The dust-covered jobsite is a far cry from the studio Darren Guyer left behind when he switched from junior designer in an architecture firm to a site supervisor for a construction company, but the 31-year-old isn't looking back. Guyer got his architecture degree in 2000 from the Cooper Union and worked at two small New York firms before decamping for construction in spring 2005. Guyer made the switch for several reasons: frustration with the long hours of architecture (though he says his former employers were “very fair”); the feeling that he had learned all he could at a small firm; and low compensation. “I am making 60 to 70 percent again now what I was making in architecture,” he says.
Construction has its own drawbacks. “There's a lot more stress involved in terms of having to deal with crises like fires, God forbid, and accidents,” Guyer notes. But he thinks the benefits outweigh the concerns: “Not a lot becomes standard or boring.” Guyer's not letting his design training languish, either; he's actively pursuing his license through the ARE testing process. “In construction, it would be an untouchable qualification.”