Hello and a Happy New Year,
I have a degree in Architecture which I obtained from my native country in
South Asia about 10 years back. I currently live in the United States (in
the Northeast). Unfortunately, I have not practiced Architecture or held a
job in any related field in the last 6 years.
I have missed working in this field, and need some pointers on how to
prepare to re-enter this field, specifically:
-What knowledge / certification do employers expect an entry-level candidate
to know and have,
-how difficult / easy is it to get a job,
-and what are the salary prospects ?
Some CAD knowledge is probably a must for a beginner. Beyond that the
expectations are (at least) comensurate with the salary being paid.
Market conditions vary with time and location. Watch your local paper for
stories/ads about new construction. See lots? Take a look at your skyline.
See many cranes? They're a good indicators. My local professional
association publishes a "jobs bulletin" every couple of weeks and
distributes it free of charge. When times are bad it's two pages. When times
are good it's twenty-eight.
Compared to what? On the whole, with the training taken into account,
salaries are poor I'm afraid. Starting salaries are ridiculous. That's part
of this business. Almost EVERYBODY wants to be an architect, until a few
years pass and they really need a new pair of pants. Then a clerical job
with a regional insurance provider, or a commission sales job selling
janitorial supplies starts to look just as sexy.
One more thing. The lack of North-American experience will limit you for
many reasons. If you want to pursue this I suggest that you cut you expenses
as much as you can, offer yourself for as little as you can tolerate, and
amass as much experience as you can as quickly as is possible. Learn about
everything going on around you, and never think that there is something
beneath you. If you are no longer learning at your job, and they won't give
you something new to do, find a new job and quit. Hang out with other
ambitious architect-types. Learn everything they know, and finally, do your
best at everything. Don't take short cuts, ethical or otherwise. It doesn't
matter if anyone notices, even though they probably will. You will be
learning faster by doing so.
Think of it as a life-long war of professional attrition: the last one
standing (and designing) wins.
First, Learn AutoCAD.
There are better CAD systems, like Revit and Architectural Desktop (which is
AutoCAD based), but most are using plain old AutoCAD. You MUST learn it.
When you become comfortable with AutoCAD, apply at temp agencies as a
Architectural CAD drafter. Keep doing that until you find a niché that you
like and that likes you and get on permanent payroll. And never let a
Sunday paper go buy without buying it.