so what's the value of a registered architect employee in a firm


If the common office practice shows that only the partner/ principal sign and seals the sheets, how else would an employer value his state license? These days, Iicensure does not necessarily validate ones competence nor the lack of it would. My boss told me that the office will add $3k on my annual salary upon registration. 

we still pursue it, although I can't see any other justification for  its existence unless you use it as a leverage for partnership, or putting your own office someday. Im trying to look at this on another other angle aside for it being just a plaque on the wall. 

Aug 21, 16 3:44 am

Keep in mind the data is averaged across the whole nation.  You can use the website to look at different regions if you'd like.

5+ Years Exp

Architect 1: $62,600

Unlicensed Designer 1: $56,400


8+ Years Exp

Architect 2: $74,800

Unlicensed Designer 2: $65,000


10+ Years Exp

Architect 3: $88,000

Unlicensed Designer 3: $72,000

Aug 21, 16 4:34 am  · 
1  · 

I make 72k with 5 years of experience...

If you are going after a project and include the bios of the people who will be working on a project, how would the client feel if the only person licensed as an architect at your firm was the principal in charge who usually has nothing to do with the project other than bringing in the client? Its about legitimacy....

Aug 21, 16 8:12 am  · 
I personally learned a lot about architecture by taking the exams. I'd say there is an actual benefit to being licensed in terms of knowledge.
Aug 21, 16 9:26 am  · 

fun letters in your e-mail signature

Aug 21, 16 9:45 am  · 

The numbers are averages...of course there's a range in there, but that's the medium salary across the nation.

Aug 21, 16 10:31 am  · 

From the firm side: Team leaders and client marketing.  Basically, there is a problem if you are introduced at the "project architect" to a client and you aren't a architect.  They also have to dance around and be very clear you are not a licensed architect.   Tends to annoy clients when they think they are buying architectural services and find out the team assigned aren't licensed (and a liability issue for the firm too if the client suspects there isn't much oversight by the licensed folks).   Essentially a clients doesn't know you or what you are capable of; that license at least establishes a certain competence level well above draftsperson or designer or worse; intern. 

From your side; Upward mobility.  Non-licensed people can only get so far up the food chain in a licensed industry.  And if you are laid-off, you being licensed have a foot up on a non-licensed person.

Aug 21, 16 11:48 am  · 
Surprised no one has mentioned that the firm will bill you at a higher rate when you get licensed.

Doesn't it also start to lower the firm's insurance as well?
Aug 21, 16 11:55 am  · 
t a z

Having more licensed personnel should help a firm get better E&O insurance rates, but it might only count licensees in the state in which the firm is incorporated or registered. Not sure on exact specifics...

Aug 21, 16 12:05 pm  · 

I keep hearing the thought about lowering insurance rates with a higher number of licensed individuals, but does anyone know this for certain? I think Donna has mentioned it a couple times as well but I've never heard anyone give any real confirmation of it or any figures/percentages of this. Anyone out there have any first-hand experience with this?

Aug 21, 16 2:03 pm  · 

In my experience the opposite occurred.  More licensed staff meant slightly higher insurance premiums - the insurer's rationale is that with more licensed people there are more people who can be assumed to be exercising independent judgement, and also more people who can be held to the standard of care a licensed professional.  

Our employer's worker's comp premiums increased too for newly-licensed people, because the state's multiplier for a "drafter" or "designer" is only about 60% of that for an "architect" - in other words architects, for whatever reasons, suffer more on-the-job injuries, according to actuarial tables. I would guess this is because the architects are more likely to travel for work purposes, and spend more time on job sites - and also might be more prone to injuries because their average age is older - though I can't say for sure.

Neither of these is a huge amount of money - and the benefits of having more licensed people outweigh these increased costs.

Aug 21, 16 2:28 pm  · 

I've seen the opposite happen to a friend - he took his exams, got his license, and was promptly fired. The reason given was that they didn't want to pay him more to do the same job he'd been doing already.

Aug 21, 16 5:11 pm  · 

^ Sounds like somebody not worth working for in the first place. I briefly worked for a guy who did all he could do to sabotage his employees' licensure process, including retroactively rejecting people's IDP hours whenever they left the firm. He saw any sort of professional development as a threat to his own authority. I got the hell away from him as fast as I could. Thankfully, employers like that have been a small minority in my experience.

Aug 21, 16 5:22 pm  · 

∆ you got the nail on the head. That firm has by far the highest employee turnover in the city.

Aug 21, 16 5:50 pm  · 

Yeah, my entire project team (for by far the largest project in the office) and the office manager / marketing director quit over the course two months. The only people he can keep on staff are 1) student interns and co-ops who are obligated to stay there an entire semester for course credit, and 2) a couple of long-term employees who were hired straight out of school and who have literally never worked in any other offices, who have no ambitions to ever become registered architects.

Aug 21, 16 6:01 pm  · 

There's a firm here like that.  It's the "starter firm" for a lot of young people fresh out school, and people moving to the region from elsewhere who don't know any better yet and just need to find a job quickly.  I interviewed there once.  The owner was terribly insulting about most of his competitors in the area, and about his own former and current staff, and very dismissive about any kind of professional development.  Most people stick it out there a year and move on, but he's got one employee who has been there 15+ years.  He's not any kinder to that guy, so it's mysterious to me why that one guy stays.  I don't know how firms like that can develop a good reputation - I'd think all that turnover would affect project delivery and make it hard to establish continuing relationships with clients.

Aug 21, 16 7:38 pm  · 

I guess the answer lies on the right proportioning of staff on a team, registered vs unregistered.

Aug 23, 16 10:37 am  · 
  1. The cost to become licensed: If these are the cost, if you take the exams once, not considering if you take it multiple times. I am not sure if I have no end goal. 

"ARE 4.0
United States and Canada (includes U.S. territories):

  • Cost of the ARE (seven divisions): $1,470... "That is if you take it once!"
  • Individual divisions: $210
  • Retakes: $210

- See more at:"


     2. Cost of staying Licensed: Nothing is free in life but when you are unsure if it is the right move with the economy making sharp turns on your livelihood, then numerous down turns or clients not seeing the value in architects, by not paying on time, pausing projects or not allowing them to design, it makes it hard to commit to a license.  

" |Certificate Application Fee: $1,100, |Certificate Annual Renewal Fee: $225, |Reactivation Fee: $250 + all outstanding annual renewal fees up to the maximum of $1,100 


   3. Unstable industry: I did an episode on my podcast about this. I do not ignore figures or statistics. Professionals say a recession is near, that means architect jobs might be on the chopping block once again unless your firm pick government jobs:

Here I talk about it:                            

Aug 27, 16 1:20 pm  · 

I have recently been hired into a firm where I am to be the in,y licensed architect. My boss regards himself as the lead architect, though unlicensed. I am concerned that my license might be utilized by my employer solely for the purpose of his legitimacy with NO concern for the ethics of stamping documents, or supervising their origination. Does anyone have advice on the matter. 

Nov 4, 21 10:39 pm  · 

It's ultimately up to you, but by taking on the liability, you put yourself at risk without any apparent financial gain (that you've mentioned). If your boss is serious and needs your stamp, they should be open to making you a partner at the very least. If they turn that down, it's because they were trying to take advantage of you, and you should run and never look back

Nov 4, 21 10:54 pm  · 
7  · 

You're value.... your stamp. You will be largely liable for all professional decisions so you'll be liable to E&O. Therefore, you will want to be sure there is E&O insurance coverage to cover you for at least to the entire statutes of repose even if you leave the firm before statutes of repose expires. You may choose to get it for yourself.

You may or may not have liability to contract matters of the firm but you want to check on that so you aren't stuck with piss poor pay and all the big liability burden or all of it. A big red flag is when your boss regards himself as the lead architect and doesn't have the license. That can mean you are hired to rubberstamp. This is why in an ideal world, architects never be employee of an unlicensed person unless there are others in the ownership tier that are license that combined has majority stake otherwise, be an independent contractor (consultant).

Nov 5, 21 6:05 am  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

I am dumbfounded every time this question pops up here. How is this situation even permitted? It certainly is not up here.

Nov 5, 21 7:51 am  · 
5  · 

Here in my state, it is a requirement that at least one of the owners of the firm be a licensed architect. It too baffles me how a practicing firm offering 'architectural services' does not have licensed staff on hand. To the OP, proceed with caution and leverage the value of your registration and the risk you're willing to take.

Nov 5, 21 11:28 am  · 
4  · 

In Oregon (my state), under the current law, at least 2/3 of an architectural firm (which also would be required to be registered with the architect board), be owned by an architect or engineer, at least 1/3 being registered architects, and at least one being an architect. There is a proposal for potential amendments to the law the relaxes the amount of ownership stake but there would be a need for an architect to have an ownership stake. 

Personally, I am okay with the amendments as far as that goes. There would be a requirement that there would be an architect licensed in the state that has some ownership stake that would be in charge of architectural services of the firm, not just an employee. I may look into it in the future. 

There is a problem when the architect is merely an employee and the employer is not licensed. This is different than in the case of a contractor-led design-build entity subcontracting an architect as a consultant to provide architectural services. In which case, the architect is still an independent contractor. Whenever an architect is not going to be an independent contractor, the architect should be a co-owner and in a leadership role and in charge of architectural services. (as in services requiring an architect and services where an architect will be stamping the drawings) and that architects hired as employees should be under the leadership direction of an architect. 

I do support that only business owners with an architect stamp should be stamping drawings. They need not be on the board of directors or management board but should have an ownership stake in the business. If they are merely employees, they should not be stamping anything and their role is functionally the same as when they were not licensed. In the business and practice of architecture, the architect of responsible charge should be a co-owner of the firm. That is my personal opinion but I know things aren't always to the ideal that I have and some others have... and architects find themselves in a position where they are only hired for their stamp.

Nov 6, 21 4:01 pm  · 
1  ·  2

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