Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Architect

Jobs are as important for our characters as they are for real people. A character’s career might be their dream job or one they’ve chosen due to necessity. In your story, they might be trying to get that job or are already working in the field. Whatever the situation, as with any defining aspect for your character, you’ll need to do the proper research to be able to write that career knowledgeably.

Enter the Occupation Thesaurus. Here, you’ll find important background information on a variety of career options for your character. In addition to the basics, we’ll also be covering related info that relates to character arc and story planning, such as sources of conflict (internal and external) and how the job might impact basic human needs, thereby affecting the character’s goals. It’s our hope that this thesaurus will share some of your research burden while also giving you ideas about your character’s occupation that you might not have considered before.

Does your story feature an architect? Get tips on how to write this occupation for characterization and story building purposes

Occupation: Architect

Overview: An architect is responsible for designing physical structures, such as homes, office buildings, shopping centers, religious buildings, factories, and bridges. They design not only for function and safety but with an eye for design, as well.

Necessary Training: An college degree in architecture is required to pursue this career. You must also acquire a license to practice from the local state or municipality, which is granted upon completion of an internship and an examination. This is the training necessary in the US, but requirements differ from place to place, so research this aspect of the job carefully.

Useful Skills, Talents, or Abilities: Multitasking, strategic thinking

Helpful Character Traits: Ambitious, analytical, confident, cooperative, creative, diplomatic, disciplined, focused, honorable, meticulous, organized, passionate, patient,  persuasive, professional, responsible, studious, talented

Sources of Friction: Indecisive clients who keep changing their minds, having to jump through bureaucratic hoops in regard to licensing and permissions, nitpicky inspectors, a worker being hurt or killed on the job, the structure one has built being faulty and injuring the inhabitants, being given an assignment that conflicts with one’s moral beliefs (building a strip club, drawing up plans for a known mafia boss’s home, etc.), one’s workers taking shortcuts that compromise the safety of the project, workplace politics, being passed over for a promotion, fighting for a specific project and losing to an inferior co-worker, having a client whose design aesthetic or preferences are very different from one’s own, being unable to collect money from the client to cover expenses

People They Might Interact With: other architects, construction workers and contractors, clients, inspectors, licensing and permitting officials, interior designers, landscape designers

How This Occupation Might Impact One’s Basic Needs:

  • Self-Actualization: Many architects enter the profession hoping to work in a certain field, but that desire doesn’t always pan out, and they end up doing more generic work. In this case, the job may be unfulfilling and boring, simply supplying a paycheck instead of providing the satisfaction they once dreamed of.
  • Esteem and Recognition: An architect who is unable to distinguish himself (due to being given uninspiring projects, being surrounded by architects who are more talented or creative, or through personal doubt and insecurity) may begin to miss the esteem of his colleagues or the community.
  • Safety and Security: Construction sites are high-risk places and are rife for accidents if workers aren’t paying close attention. An architect who experienced an injury on the job might find it difficult to return to the site and do his best work there.

Common Work-Related Settings: Break room, construction site, elevator, office cubicle, parking garage, parking lot, waiting room

Twisting the Stereotype: Historically, architects were male; this stereotype is changing, but it’s good to keep in mind, and get the women involved in this career. It’s common for architects to become associated with a certain kind of structure or building. Why not get your architect involved in a less common kind of project or aesthetic, like amusement parks, or someone who specializes in medieval design?


Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling. You can find Becca online at both of these spots, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.
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5 Responses to Occupation Thesaurus Entry: Architect

  1. Pingback: Writing Links 2/26/18 – Where Genres Collide

  2. JOHN T. SHEA says:

    Thanks for this! My WIP is set largely on an ocean liner and has a naval architect as a major character. He rebuilt the very old ship and keeps it going through all sorts of danger and mishaps. He became a more important and useful character than I first expected, explaining technical matters in accessible language for both other characters and the reader.

    We writers are like architects in a way, planning (or pantsing!) our stories and erecting them level by level. Unlike most architects though, we can and do go back and improve (hopefully!) our work even after it’s first ‘finished’.

  3. Jan Rydzon says:

    Occupational Thesaurus Request: Advice Columnist

    Can’t wait for the character building tool!

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