Licensed Architect Requirements
Licensed architect hopefuls have different ways to achieve their professional license. The traditional route is to go to college and get a professional degree. Then, you get an internship working under a design professional for three years. After that, you’re qualified to take the exam. Once you take the exam, you will be a licensed architect.
Yet, the professional degree, which is a five-year degree, is not available at every school. So, the alternative is a four-year degree plus a Masters degree. This route takes seven years to get the academic training.
Which Route is Better?
It depends on what level of architecture you want to develop in. Often, professional degree graduates are better at production architecture than design. A licensed architect gets more exposure to design with a Masters degree. They study in design studios and have more exposure in that area. But it all depends on your preference. For instance, a lot of good licensed architects come out of a five-year degree. So, you need to find what way is right for you.
Going Another Route
Still, there’s a different route to go to become a licensed architect. You can work under an architect for eight years, and he or she can sign you off to be able to take the exam. Now, this route is difficult. Not every architect will commit to training you. But this option is great to have because not everybody can afford to go to architecture school. So, this is another way to go, if you can find an architect to train you. And if you have eight years to work under him or her.
An Architect Needs a License
It’s not possible to become an architect without a license. You cannot use the title of architect, in any shape or form, without a license. Each state has a board for architects that requires licensing. In California, it is part of the code of ethics from the California Architects Board. To call yourself an architect, you must meet the license requirements and pass the exam.
Such strict requirements are understandable if you think about it. Would you call yourself an MD if you don’t pass the boards, or if you weren’t trained as an MD? Or would you call yourself an attorney if you did not pass the state bar exam? Would you call yourself a CPA if you did not pass the exam as a tax accountant? There are reasons why the license requirements and the title are congruent. It shows your expertise in your field.
So, you can call yourself a designer. You can call yourself a draftsman. But you cannot call yourself an architect unless you pass the professional exam.
How to Check a Licensed Architect
The best ways to confirm someone is a licensed architect:
- Ask the architect whether he’s a licensed professional,
- Contact the California licensing board, or
- Check for the license online.
Architecture licenses are public information. Therefore, it is easy to check and see if you are dealing with a licensed architect. Once you find this out, you have the comfort of knowing that he or she took the required training and passed the exam.