What’s My Career Path? The Technologist’s Dilemma (Part 1)

There’s been a recent opinion piece making the social media rounds about why AEC technologists change jobs so frequently. While its point was that few firms have fully committed to proper BIM, it got me thinking about the career options technologists have, both within and beyond the traditional AEC firm universe. So while at the beach this summer, I did some thinking and jotted down my thoughts.

For this post, I’ll focus on working in an architecture or engineering firm, where there seem to be two categories: directly within the structure of the professional employees, or in support of them. These two can be thought of as “Technical” and “Administrative” roles, respectively.

A Technical role is, in essence, a traditional career path within a firm. Some people focus on interiors, others on codes & specs, building enclosure, and other areas. A technologist’s focus is on – you guessed it – technology. Advancement in a Technical role is well defined and understood – as a junior employee, lots of production is involved, and as one advances, the role grows to include mentor ship, management, and possibly business development. Administrative staff work in support of the Technical project teams. Layers of IT, knowledge management, marketing, accounting, legal, etc, exist to maintain and optimize the Technical teams’ and the whole organization’s performance.

Here’s the million dollar question: if a technologist role is situated in or across administrative layers, how can it best maintain its strategic focus? We’ve proposed a few suggestions in our “Billable vs Overhead” article published last year; please do check it out if you haven’t already done so.

Next time, I’ll ruminate on technologists’ options outside of traditional practice.

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