Our firm grants a congratulatory cash bonus upon registration. We do allow time off to take the exam; if they take a half-day and return to work after the exam, then the time is billed towards "Education", but if they take a whole day off then they use their paid time off days, such as vacation. We also reimburse the cost of any exam that they pass.
We also have a system in place where we encourage our junior staff to complete ARE. It starts in our employee manual where it states that it is expected that all staff members will become registered; this attitude is reinforced verbally by our partners. Obviously, there are exceptions to older or immigrant professionals, but the junior staff are expected to complete IDP within 3 years and then take the ARE.
We also have several senior architects within the firm that are active mentors for the junior staff; they meet with them regularly and assist them with any roadblocks. We have had in-house ARE study sessions with out-of-house professionals/engineers. We have had in-house study groups. We have all the available study materials available to borrow. We monitor all the programs offered by the local AIA chapters and pass along any relevant study sessions to the ARE candidates. Peer pressure and friendly competition among the junior staff works wonders. Along with our IDP and EPC programs, these actions foster a culture of expectation.
A primary message that we stress is reinforcing the necessity to get the ARE done before life starts to get in the way. Get it over and done with and then get on with your life. I also know that it gets more difficult to get into the mind-set of studying and taking tests as one gets older.
I know too many mid-40s friends that haven't completed it before family/kids/etc, and their professional career path has hit a major ceiling. The professional avenues available when registered or when not registered needs to be emphasized. Encourage staff to look at their long-term goals and what it will take to reach those goals.
It is different here in Philadelphia where there are 4 accredited schools of architecture and it is necessary to constantly find ways to distinquish oneself. Everyone has an arch degree, even the receptionists, the delivery people, the secretaries, the librarians, the cadd-jockies, etc. Registration was not as necessary in central Pennsylvania where having a B.Arch or M.Arch was enough of a distinction.
It comes down to constant communication, encouragement and a culture of expectation.
Nicole M. Dress, AIA, LEED AP
Show Original Message