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Scott:I was going to post this as a separate thread but I will post as an answer to your first question:"Does it seem like it is getting harder to enter and advance in the profession of architecture?".
Absolutely and shockingly not, in fact I would strongly argue that currently the criteria for getting licensed is so low that a license is nearly meaningless. I knew NCARB has been changing the rules for years, seemingly making the recording process more Byzantine yet the actual exam easier but I had no idea that universities can now teach to pass the exam and students graduate with a license. GRADUATE WITH A LICENSE!! I understand that they intern along the way but it can by no means be the same level of experience one gets from full time employment in a functioning office. NCARB is allowing folks to sit for the licensing exam so quickly that a few years back I had an intern, who had started the whole exam process in college and had just passed the ARE, come into my office and cry because he felt he had nowhere near the knowledge required to be an "Architect", to lead a project, to be solo on one. Which, of course, he did not. I was as comforting as helpful as I could be but all I could think was why is NCARB allowing someone this fresh (two years) out of school to sit for the exam?
Someone a day out of school has been led to believe that they are as qualified as any other licensed architect and I guess legally they are. They can stamp a high rise as readily as I can.
I will put aside the dis-service that this does to them and ask when hiring, how does one handle this? Someone is applying for a job directly out of school but I am sure has looked up salary levels for licensed architects.
I am certain there will be folks responding to this singing the praises of IPAL and similar programs but I cannot believe rushing to give someone a license that they are not prepared for is in their best interest.
Drake: You are spot on about the cost of the degree. I remember when one could apprentice to become an architect and I would argue those were some exceptionally strong architects once they were done. What schools teach has so little to do with the actual practice of architecture that it is, in some cases, worse than worthless. I have had interns come in directly out of school who are genuinely SHOCKED by what actually goes on in an architect's office..."what! we don't read poetry about our design aloud all day?!"
In the past 20 years I have had three interns leave the profession in under a year because it was so different than their expectation. But this is not new; at UVA my first class was taught by a "professor" who was 25 years old and had left one of the finest design firms in the world after just two years for life as an academic because the reality of architecture was just not what he was interested in.
However, on a positive note I have had some interns arrive who were thrilled to discover architecture was so much more than school ever indicated. They thrived on learning how buildings went together, what jobsites were like and even were genuinely curious to learn about codes.
My perception from once being in a very large firm that had over 300 employees but about 25 licensed architects is that it use to be that folks got out of school, got comfortable in their job, realized they never wanted to start their own firm and that they would never have to stamp drawings at their large firm so they decided why go through the hassle and expense to get a license. I am not saying I agree with this, just what I observed. I think the number of licensed architects to the number of students graduating was disturbing to NCARB and the AIA so they have rigged the system so that nearly anyone graduating can easily get a license. The fundamentally wrong assumption is that since those graduates were not getting licensed was that they had left the profession because somehow a license was too much of a barrier. Nonsense. I have worked with many, many graduates who even into their 40's and 50's never got licensed and some of them are the finest architects I know. The system seems backwards at this point where experience is not valued or rewarded (with a license) the way simply being in architecture school is now rewarded.
Sadly, I do think it is going to take a series of serious mishaps before those making these changes see the folly of the too easily given professional credentials.
I think the medical internship (gasp - they still use that word? don't they feel denigrated?) is a better model for us to consider.Given that- pre-licensure experience is a fundamental part of one's education as an architect- some firms hesitate to hire AXPers because they feel they are training staff who will leave them in a heartbeat- the quality of educational experience is wildly variable- there are compensation irregularitiesI suggest that only experience at accredited firms (call them teaching practices or whatever) counts towards licensure. Those accredited firms must have a formal program and truly invest in their candidates.The controversial BIG change I would consider is ... omit the exam requirement for candidates who successfully chart a slightly-longer (maybe 4 year) path through these teaching studios.
To compensate the firms for that higher level of effort, maybe the firms are tied to universities and somehow can be compensated beyond a modest salary, or the candidates would earn less but can still draw on financial aid/scholarships; need more thought on that part...
If I understand Scott Knudson correctly, he proposes tying the practical experience requirement to "accredited firms," however, that would create a tremendous hardship on small practices that, due to their small size, provide excellent hands-on training for young architect. Creating formal criteria for the firms that are "accredited" to offer training to architectural graduates would lock out small firms that cannot invest in such efforts from attracting talent.
Bottom line is that the "internship" must be held sacrosanct and the exam must gauge the readiness of graduates to practice in the real world, and it should not be permitted to take the exam until the training period is complete. An alternative path could be considered using the accredited training mentioned.
Mark I. Baum, AIA
Mark I. Baum Architect LLC
New Orleans, LA
Mark I. Baum, Architect, AIA
You are spot on Edward Shannon. We have an intern now and she is getting to see not only the how we dos, but the why we dos. I think in many cases understanding why is much more important than how. This is not taught in school. And when you have to pay to draw things all over again because of the client, code official, neighbor, developer, or specialty consultant, you really learn a lesson the hard way.
I have many, many scars which I show to the interns so they don't get the same ones. Some you will have to learn the hard way. That's called life. Ask don't tell. Measure twice - cut once. Erasers are cheaper than jack-hammers. Etc.
Dario D. D. DiMare, AIA, LS, HITH
Dario Designs Inc.
318 Main Street, Suite 210
Northborough, MA 01532
I have only to look at my own experience to realize how little we know about the total practice of architecture when we get out of school. My major professor explained to me when I visited him about a year after graduation, "We teach you here what you are not likely to be exposed to after graduation. The rest you need to learn on the job. And that was about 60 years ago!
I owe passing the plumbing section of the State Boards to a plumber on a K-12 school project when I was an intern doing job observation. I was looking at the maze of piping on the "wet wall" of a student toilet room when the plumber came in and took the time to explain the whole system to me; supply, waste, venting, loop vents and all. Sixty-five percent of the plumbing section on the State Boards read, "You have an elementary school for 450 students. Design the toilet room plumbing to meet code. Show piping to include supply, waste and vents." Luckily the occupancy was exactly what that school was three years before. I laid my pencil down and pictured the wet wall in my mind and then drew like mad.
Your experience sounds similar to mine. I remember the first thing my structures professor said on the first day, "if you are not planning on practicing architecture, please drop this course and make room for those who will..."
Best to all,
Daniel Guich, AIA, LEED ap, CDT
I had an opportunity to team with Taliesin Architects (Frank Lloyd Wright's school that focused on apprenticeship as much as class work) on a project several years ago. I was intrigued by the different experience the apprentices on the Taliesin team were getting from my own experience in architectural education. The Apprentices were a constant fixture with the Master Architect, attending and participating in meetings, presenting the work they did, being assigned to coordinate with my team, etc. Granted, there were some challenges in the lack of experience of some members (not their fault, but their years of experience). I, on the other hand, only got those same experiences due to circumstances that were for the most part beyond my control.
I have since wondered what our system of education would look like if master's degree work had more to do with training in an office (Paid of course!) instead of a classrooms; perhaps reserving doctoral work for those who want to spend a few years concentrating on specialization within the field.
Michael Clark, AIA
4715 Pilgrim Lane N, Minneapolis, MN 55442
Well said. Our 'Institutions' really do need look beyond 'tradition' and begin to adopt a much more collaborative orientation in their approach.
I also was the beneficiary of exposure to the Talisian Fellowship (many years ago) and was equally impressed with their orientation of inclusion of ideas from their student 'collaborators". Much different than the year end 'crits' in which I participated (in the age of the dinosaurs).
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I couldn't agree with you more. Good post Nea Poole.
I wonder how the E&O insurance guys feel about this?
I hope our insurance does not go up as a result of this. There would have to be more claims as a result of their inexperience.
Maybe the AIA, or NCARB, or the universities get sued a few times for wrongful deaths and the pendulum may swing back. Our profession is more than just cute buildings, it is also closely tied to the health, safety , and welfare of the public.