But now, at this point in my life, I'm not so sure anymore.
I STILL believe that being a licensed architect would be the culmination of my studies. I STILL believe that it would lend me a certain level of authority that I cannot claim without it. And yes, I STILL would like to pass my exams and get that stamp. I'm just not sure if I want to do it RIGHT NOW.
There are several reasons why trying to take my exams this year (and probably next) seem like an attractive option: I just got out of grad school, this stuff is still fresh in my mind, I have the money to do it, it would be nice to put those letters on my business cards...
...er, IS it fresh in my mind? DO I have the money? And do I NEED those letters on my business cards?
Frankly, now I'm working for a company in which being a licensed architect is not necessarily value added. I am the only trained architect in a company of over 300, a good portion of which are professional engineers, which is necessary for our work. Consulting is only part of our business, but it IS a part. Designing buildings is not. I am valuable to my company because of my building science knowledge, of which there is currently no meaningful certification.
Despite all that, it was still a personal goal of mine, so I was pursuing it... until I started to feel like I was being ripped off. Getting your architecture license involves the following:
- Being a member of NCARB who administers your records for $60 a year;
- Paying to have NCARB send your record to a state;
- Applying to the state to accept your record;
- Paying the state up to $100 to apply;
- Having the state send your approval to a testing agency;
- Paying at least $200 to the testing agency to take your first four - or six - hour exam;
- THEN paying at least $200 each to take each of SIX additional four or six hour exams;
- After you get your license, there's the fees you pay to join the AIA, the fee you pay to get your stamp, the fees you pay to take continuing education credits, and other fees that I'm probably unaware of.
- Pay $20 a year to maintain your records;
- Take one day-long exam (let's assume it costs at least $200);
- Put the letters P.E. behind your name and move on with your life.
But this red tape I have to wade through is a real de-motivator. Especially when I feel like, "what have all these groups done for me lately? The profession is dying, unemployment among architects may be 50% and they don't even have an aggressive stance on green building, and I'm supposed to want to be a part of this group? And pay out the wazoo for it? WHY?"
Anyway, if anyone has an opinion on my mini-existential crisis, please leave a comment below. I could use the input and I love second opinions!