What it takes to become a licensed Architect…

Recently a good friend of mine, Justin Alpert, AIA, was recommended and received his architectural license. I truly congratulate him and like to share a portion of a note that he had send out in gratitude to his friends and colleagues that helped him get there.

It is particularly interesting to me, to see the detailed explanation of what it takes to become a licensed Architect; something that most people are not aware of. It is one of the most intense and time consuming career paths you can imagine.

Consider the seriousness and effort of your licensed professional the next time you have the opportunity to select an Architect for your project…

“For those that know what it takes to be an architect, you may skip this next paragraph. But for those that don’t know, here is the process:

The first requirement for architectural registration is earning a professional degree from one of the 123 colleges that has an architecture program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). A typical architecture program is a 5 year program. I believe I had to earn about 171 credits. I think a typical non-architecture degrees is about 120. The next step is the Intern Development program (IDP). Through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) I had to complete  total 5,600 hours of specific work experience within 16 different categories, including programming, construction documents, and project management. Once I fulfilled NCARB’s IDP requirements, I became eligible to start taking the Architectural Registration Exams (ARE). When I started taking them, there were 9 exams; Pre-design, General Structures, Lateral Forces, Mechanical and Electrical systems, materials & methods, Construction Documents, site planning, building planning, and building technology. Each one is a 4 to 6 hour exam. Once the first exam is passed, you have 5 years to pass all of them. If an exam is failed, you must wait 6 months to retake the exam. Since licensing is done by each individual State, exam scores are sent directly to a State. For me, it was Florida. In June of this year I passed my final exam. The Florida Licensing Board reviewed my college transcript, my IDP transcript, and my passing exam scores and approved me for my license.

With my initial License, most states, including Massachusetts have a reciprocity process, where through NCARB, my records are submitted to another state (MA in this case) along with applications and fees, and the State reviews all the records. Before you can submit to other states, you need to be approved for an NCARB Certificate, which requires forms, fees, review of credentials and background check. Once I received my NCARB Certificate, I applied for a MA state License.

Tuesday night the MA Board of Registration of Architects met and approved me for a license. Today I was issued my license number, making it official. 17 long years to reach this one goal. For some people, this process is easy and maybe their license doesn’t mean so much to them. But for me, it has been a constant challenge. Maybe that is part of the reason why this means so so much to me.”

PS: the “AIA” stands for American Institute of Architects, and can only be used by a licensed Architect who has also joined this organization. It is a sure indicator that the individual is indeed licensed…








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