As our time is winding down here at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, my classmates and I are now faced with what to do next. Aside from the obvious, beginning a career, paying those dreaded student loans, and perhaps moving to a distant city, one very big decision for each of us to evaluate is, if we get a job in architecture, do we work toward getting our architecture license. To make a proper decision on the subject, one must educate themselves on what is required to gain their license and what a license really means to them. Why do you want to get it? Is it for the pay increase common in such an effort, or just for the title? For anyone to really know if its worth the time and money to continue on to licensure, they must know what it takes.
In the most basic sense of the licensure process for an architect according to ncarb.org, any candidate working toward their license must complete three different criteria before they can actually apply for their license. The first is to hold a professinal degree in architecture from an accredited program. The two organizing bodies that can accredit an architecture program are the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). Alternatives to earning the aforementioned professional degree include the satisfaction of NCARB's Broadly Experienced Architect Program and proving that a degree earned outside of the United States and Canada has met alternative NCARB requirements.
Another element of the licensing process is the Intern Development Program (IDP). NCARB outlines a specific number of hours to be spent working in an architecture firm or appropriately similar environment in various sectors of the daily work. To be more specific, one must record a total of 5,600 hours working in different common roles around the office. These different areas and the amount of time needed in each is clearly outlined by NCARB and includes such criteria as 180 hours in the pre-design phase, 2,600 hours in the design phase, 720 hours in project management, and 160 hours in practice management. These categories are broken down once more into smaller categories with their own time requirements. As one goes through the IDP process, they have an NCARB mentor that helps guide them through the process.
The third element of the licensure process under NCARB is the Architect Registration Exams (ARE). The current iteration of the ARE is the ARE 4.0. It consists of seven divisions that include eleven vignettes, and five-hundred fifty-five multiple choice questions. The questions pertain to various elements of architectural design including programming, site planning, construction systems, schematic design, structure, building systems, etc. Son to come is the ARE 5.0 which will have slight modifications when compared to its older counterpart but will still address the same subjects.
Once these criteria have been met according to the limitations and requirements of NCARB, an individual is then eligible to apply for licensure. The road is long and hard but, for many, it is more than worth it for the advantages that the title holds professionally and socially.