Friday, July 07, 2006

Roadblocks to Licensure


In a May 2006 report prepared for The American Institute of Architects, An Assessment of Population, Construction, and Alternative Professions and Their Relationship to Architect Licensure and Registration Levels, Minnesota is listed as one of the states where registrations are increasing. Across the board, however, the rise and fall in the numbers of interns sitting for licensure exams is dependent on how well the construction industry and therefore also the architecture industry are doing. A good economy means increased numbers and poorer economy means fewer numbers.

Is the major roadblock or deterrent to becoming licensed simply a financial one?

Does the increased cost of earning a professional degree in architecture exacerbate this problem?

Click on the comments link below and share your thoughts on this discussion.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the firm I work at four out of the seven employees are graduates with BS degrees, have worked from 3 to 7 years in the firm, get paid well, like their work but seem to have no real desire, other than to say they'd like to be registered, to go back to school for their Master's Degree in order to get licensed. Perhaps, the value of the requisite Master's Degree needs to be looked at and challenged?

Ellie Font said...

Employers may soon catch on to the fact that the BS does not equal the BArch and stop hiring those with only a BS.

Anonymous said...

When I have spoken to recently licensed emerging professionals, I often ask how has it changed their careers. Most answer not at all. If any major changes, they have become salaried and now make less money because they are not paid for overtime. The biggest reason most of them did it was for personal pride and to get out of the firm they are working at.

I am not licensed and the people I speak of have been licensed for a year or less. I don't want to sound down about it, but this is the overwhelming response I get.

Back to the personal side of licensure, they were all very excited and proud of themselves as they should be. I can't wait to do it myself.

Also, being a current student, teachers constantly pound in our heads that you make no money in architecture, you have to do it for the love of it. I have several classmates looking into development and construction because of this.

So I would say ultimately it is a financial decision for the people on the fence. Those who love it enough will not let anything stop them.

Anonymous said...

Wait until some of these respondents from above reach a ceiling on their salaries and responsibilities. It is difficult to have all of your options stay available for types of practice or types of buildings that you participate in if you are not registered. I think that it might appear that one can practice architecture without being registered..but not really.

I do think that the U of MN School of "Design" has now created a process that is not valuable to the creation of architects. The school seems to want to be "everything" and is therefore losing it's focus in the mission of producing educated students of architecture. You can learn what you need to in 5 years for a B Arch and then get out of school and practice. The school does not teach what you need to get registered at this point anyway. It is a shame to make the premium for getting registered 3 more years. That is a long and expensive road.

reaXtions said...

This last comment makes some very important points regarding a threshold of contributions one can actually make as a non licensed "architect", and should be seriously considered by those who harbor ambitions of their own practice.

The value of the MArch degree and the loss of "focus" of CALA's in "creating architects" needs to be questioned now that the cost of education and salaries are even further out of alignment. There are many issues at play in this discussion, and all contributions are welcomed.

Anonymous said...

The BArch degree is much more useful in exposing students to studio and design while simultaneously minimizing the number of years in school and subsequent expenses. Undergrad students don't have a solid design sense, and only minimal building technnology exposure.

I see so many undergrads stop their educational process in favor of work and an income. They don't seem likely to return to school given the cost of tuition and minimal increase in compensation.

We can't do enough to encourage licensure. It's the core of our profession. Without the license, an architectural grad is either a draftsman or a spatial artist. Neither role aligns with the public perception of architects or the true potential architects have as cultural, civic, industry, and community leaders.

Anonymous said...

My personal experience found the problem to be that Master's programs require more experience while the firms are generally looking for grad students. When I graduated from the U of MN with my BS in architecture, I applied to 15 internships. Those that took the time to call me back told me that they were looking for graduate students. At the same time I was sending resumes I had filled out 2 grad schools apps. Both recommended that I work in the field, gain some more experience and then reapply.

I find this to be an impossible situation since I am dependent on one or the other to further my career. Until the firms and the schools begin to communicate with one another about what they are expecting, I think that fewer people will be entering the field.

reaXtions said...

You've described perfectly the "Catch 22" of the practice/education paradox.

There is a program planned for this year's AIA Minnesota convention in November that will try to tackle this and other difficult issues that surround practice, education and internship. The panel will include people committed to improving the current conditions you have found yourself in. Please attend this program and make your voice heard, and bring others you know who feel strongly about changing through creative dialogue the current very confusing and frustrating situation.

dsgnXer said...

My experience has been similar to 'Anonymous'. I had the bad luck to graduate when all the firms were laying off people. Difficult to interview at a place when seasoned veterans are getting axed. However, I eventually found a job. Wasn't the exact job I hoped for, BUT it was a job doing design work, and learning the ropes. I then moved to another part of the country, and I have found that with little experience under my belt, and the experience not being within that marketing segment, it is difficult to get a foot in the door. No it is difficult to even get a response during a follow up to find out if they ever got a resume. They all want experience, but how is a person supposed to get experience if they can't get hired right out of school.

I am going to suggest something, and if I am incorrect please tell me why. I have a theory. Client's needs come first - but it is to the point where the schedules and demands are so insane that there is no time to sit down and think about how it is negatively impacting the firm's business overall. This will eventually catch up with the firm. To not seriously think about the people you hire, the training you are passing on, and the principles the firm stands for in the long run will create an unhealthy atmostphere for the people working there. You will have a shortage of trained people, if you don't commit to training them out of school. Yea - the nubes are a pain, but we're thinking long term here. I keep coming back to a thought I had years ago; It's not just about the bottom line. That is just one part; and if that is the only thing the firm is thinking about, it won't be around for very long.

Anonymous said...

I went to school in MN, but moved to Seattle right after graduation. Everything your talking about happens here too, but add more people and more competition. In fact most internships here require a Masters as well as 3-5 years of experience. I always thought that when you have a Masters and complete your 3 years of IDP, you are no longer an intern! So, I don't understand that. It took me over a year, after applying to 50 firms to finally find a job. And I don't even get a lot of traditional experience here. I want to move back to MN and am interested in what you all are saying about Architecture there (and a bit scared too).

I agree that Undergrads do not know enough right out of school, especially technically. But an undergrad is still capable of learning and doing architectural tasks and should be able to get a job. I think that the prerequisite of a Masters in order to get a job is not a great idea. That would just make this problem worse. What's wrong with being a designer without a license anyway? As long as your working under a licensed Architect there seems to be no harm in that.

I do however, agree that a Masters should be necessary to get a liscense. Getting a BArch seems like a way to slide by without really knowing your stuff. I think there should be a decision made once and for all how that should be for all schools. Instead of some offering a BArch, some a 2 year grad degree, some a 3 year grad degree. There should be one choice. And I think that our undergrad programs need to be more technically orientated. I wasn't even required to know CAD when I graduated!

Additionally, I want to point out that it's not always a matter of "do you love architecture enough?". Sometimes you don't have enough choices in life or parents to pay your way. The structure of grad school does not usually allow for night and weekend classes. I want to go back to grad school, but cannot figure out how to go to school, pay the bills and hang with my 2 yr old daughter and actually succeed at all of it, and then be able to pay back all the loans afterwards. And yes, I know it was my choice to have a child but Architecture is not the only thing that happens in life. It is important to be connected to and enjoy the world apart from Architecture too.

Anonymous said...

I'm recently licensed. There are other barriers that I must deal with in this profession (female & minority ) but being unlicensed will not be one of them.
There are employers who do value licensure and make greater opportunities available to their licensed staff. Unfortunately, there are those who say they do but the work opportunities are little better than for a non-degreed drafter. (current employer)
Licensure is no guarantee for an interesting job or even a better wage. However, I feel more confident with license in hand for my future job search in 2007.

Anonymous said...

I went to the U of M in the late 80's and I don't know why they ever changed the arch program- it seemed better to graduate with a b arch. Regarding registration- I have been working on it bits and pieces- not great. Perhaps part of the problem is not a lot of motivation to get registered. Many colleagues never do it- see no reason. It seems it should be required- like lawyers.
Speaking of, I am looking for an ARE study group- any out there? Specifically M & E-

Anonymous said...

Maybe you guys can help....I'm a contractor/remodeler that's developed a strong interest in architecture, but at this time I'm not sure that starting the program at the U is possible right now. Can any of you give guidance for some "self-study" materials to see if this is something I'd be suited to explore further?! Are there any "first year" materials that I could purchase anywhere? I know this is a strange request, but looking for someone to get a bit of direction from.
Shawn@jlinteriorsllc.com

Anonymous said...

Just because you're licensed doesn't make you highly competent... while at the same time being highly competent doesn't give you a license.

So where does that leave me? I guess I'm working towards proving I'm a highly competent licensed professional. Hoping that the profession will find someway to reward people like myself, so I can finally pay off the debt incurred by putting myself through school.

By the way, a Bachelors of Science and Architecture (5 year professional degree), is in no way "sliding by without knowing your stuff", In fact, the same as with a license... both capable and non-capable people get Masters degrees and BArchs alike every year... just because you made it through school doesn't mean you're better or worse in practice. 3 Extra years is not a sign of competence... it's seeming that it's only a sign of poverty (tuition is not cheap).

reaXtions said...

Let's not make any excuses here, or pretend this is about getting ahead in the office or who does what or who has more talent or who should get more money or whatever the reasons stated in any of these posts about licensure. Sure, short term it might be about degrees, school and salary, but your current condition and why you might not see the value of licensure has to be seen in a much broader time frame and how it will serve you. This is called "wisdom" and it generally comes from those with more experience, much of it gained from a lifetime of living the profession and dealing with issues and people and situations that have tested their resources. Sometimes you find someone with wisdom and little experience, these are rare, listen to them because they might have been born wise. The wise will tell you licensure is about your soul, about finishing something you started not because it will gain you something tangible but because it will forever fill you with satisfaction and after some critical experience that might turn into a humble confidence. If that happens, then you might become wise. Finish the task and embrace the responsibibility of being a professional. A chip on the shoulder is not very becoming. Expect more from yourself and the goals you set when you first said "I want to be an architect". This should not even be an issue.

Anonymous said...

I am about ready to retire, I've worked in architect's offices and worked for contractors. If you don't mind great pay, long hours and tremendous stress work for a contractor. If you want less money and more fun and no stress, work for an architect.

By the way, when you hit 50 years old, you will know enough to call yourself an Architect.

BIM will be a savior to the old guys to save their jobs because the young guys typically don't know enough to build a building in their heads before it goes into the computer.