The recession and its aftermath have clearly taken a toll on the architecture profession. In May, during the AIA’s annual convention, Kermit Baker, the institute’s chief economist, reported that 60,000 payroll jobs had been lost at firms over the past four years, with 36,000 of them being designers and architects. Of that group, about a third have found work outside of architecture, according to surveys conducted by the AIA.
Roughly 6,000 of these architects will likely quit the profession for good, the surveys found—a move that could have serious ramifications. This doesn’t even account for recent graduates who, unable to find jobs at firms, may pursue work in entirely different fields. According to sources we interviewed, these new career paths vary widely, from culinary endeavors to digital game design.