Monday, January 21, 2013

Career forks in the road: get licensed now or get the M.Arch?

I recently got a question from J, who started out in one state with a 4-year pre-professional degree in architecture and then moved to another state to work due to family obligations. J is about to finish the ARE and get licensed, even without his B.Arch or M.Arch.  His questions were good ones: does getting my license this way mean I have an asterisk by my license number, and will it hurt me if I move to another state?

The short answers are no and maybe.  While some states are beginning to close the loopholes on not gaining experience through IDP/NCARB and not getting a B.Arch or M.Arch, not all have done so.  This link to NCARB's Registration Board License Requirements describes by state and jurisdiction what is required for initial license as well as reciprocity in that state.  It's a good reference for both your present situation (should I go back to grad school now or just get going with my hours and ARE?) as well as your future.  If you get licensed without the professional degree and then decide to move out of that state, you'll need to check if you can get reciprocal registration in your new state.  This might not be a big problem if you work for another firm, as they have partners/owners that stamp and sign the drawings. However, if you start your own firm and want to pursue work in a state that won't offer you reciprocity, you'll need to partner with another firm that is licensed in that state in order to do the work--and there goes a chunk of your profits.

There's no right or wrong way to go about this. It's just about knowing the benefits and costs of each method.

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