Not joining the AIA


I would not recommend anyone joining the AIA. Its a joke and just a money machine. When I was an intern I tried to get a couple of firms to sign my idp hours. They were lazy/busy and never really would sign very many of them. This is a violation according to the AIA cannons. The AIA said as long as the companies were paying their dues there was nothing they could do. At that point I realized that that the AIA was a money machine and after talking to many colleagues, about 30% are not members for similar reasons. $660/yr is a lot for a magazine.

Jun 13, 18 8:53 am

$800+ for my chapter. And the Look up campaign? Totally makes owners rethink hiring a CM or contractor to spearhead a project....not.

Jun 13, 18 9:06 am

$600 a year times the 90,000 membership is $54,000,000 a year or $4,500,000 a month. Life is good.

Would you care to discuss the NCARB take? Or the NAAB income that is baked into the school's tuition?

Jun 13, 18 10:19 am

Ironically, the dipshits at NCARB and licensing boards that they are seriously incompetent to set things up in a sensible fashion. All the records for every architect in any state (even California) can fit on to a database on a $1,000 desktop PC with a few terabytes. For a modest database server costing around $10,000 and about 56 TERABYTES of Hard drive space. NCARB could with $250,000 (or so), NCARB can set up one of these (URL: with 3.6 Petabytes (3,600 TERABYTES). At this scale, the storage can hold the records of every architect in the nation. At $500,000, they can back it up on server redundancy and it would still have room for growth. Yeah, that is with 1 GIGABYTE database record for each architect. This would be unlikely to be even 1 GB worth of data per record because it can be more efficiently recorded for better footprint. Every state with a less intense hardware configuration can fetch NCARB records either as a batch query fetch or done in real-time transaction. ALL of this can be done with full automation even with security systems in place. There is absolutely no reason these morons need to be charging for record transfer. Considering all the money NCARB collects for maintaining a record for everyone including the non-licensed members of the profession working on their NCARB record.


I believe that the AIA has made direct efforts to equate membership to professional registration which is just wrong.  

Jun 13, 18 12:37 pm

Not a fan of AIA.  The one thing they do though that now has value to me is maintenance of continuing education records and standardizing with most States.  If I was just registered in one State, it isn't worth it.  But I should be registered in 20 States by year end (currently just 5) and me keeping those records and updating every State will be a pita.

Which gets me to NCARB; $400 per transfer just to pull the file (which is all they do for $225 per year).  You'd think for those fees they'd also track the application.  At least the transfer fee is a one time thing, but it is still painful knowing all they are doing is hitting send on a file I provided every chunk of information contained in there which they also charged me to do.

Both organizations are just jumbo marketing firms selling their data and standards to agencies.  It isn't about selling 'architects' it is about selling that they have a minimum standard to gain their certifications and forcing us to pay them to prove we meet those standards.  The AIA puts a spin on it, and adds spectacle and pomp like the fashion industry strutting our best designs down the runway... but at their heart; they are selling standards (contracts, data, etc.).

Jun 13, 18 1:21 pm

I agree. 

It is stupid because the server, if set up properly, can automatically send it to the states had they set up things with any sense of computer intelligence. How is NCARB so damn incompetent with computer technology? 

They could and should have arranged with all 50 states an means and method where each state's system collects records from NCARB on a daily basis after the office closes. The method of process would be similar to how BBSs used to do Fidonet EchoMail but faster (not limited to modem baud rate speed). I said similar not the same. It's just Database querying updates from NCARB Records master server and all the states can simply have sub-database servers on their end pulling the records after 5pm EST and by 5am EST. In the 12 hour window, all 50 states should be able to get all their requesting data automatically. 

NCARB records would be transmitted to target state within 24 hours automatically. Then the state will just have to process that information after that. In my opinion, this whole process manual process on NCARB's part is stupid. Especially if they need human involvement on NCARB's part beyond a system administrator keeping the system operational.

Actually, it is possible to do this real-time via real-time database query transaction but they can batch operate during after-hours. Which makes sense as well. Again, no sense for what NCARB is charging.


@Rick; They are setup on some sort of sophisticated email with notifications. You get notifications of your order, your receipt, and when it was sent. What you don't get; Automatic filling out of applications even though several are identical. You don't get to have them store additional information almost every State requires like criminal record search if you've ever been convicted (even expunged, including misdemeanors). You don't get them being proactive about just following up once the transcripts are sent. They do at least have a button for each of the sent ones that you click once you get your license to add the number and expiration dates to your NCARB account. I'm also hoping their system will send reminders when licenses are going to expire


NCARB doesn't keep track of certificate holders' statuses with other states anyway. They rely mostly on the annual self-reports. It's possible they may spot-check some % of records to actually verify the info with the states, but I know for a fact that they do not do this for all certificants or for every transmittal. There was a person I know who had their license revoked in another state, due to some criminal activity. That architect just never reported that to NCARB, and kept checking off that their license was still valid and they hadn't been arrested (both false) and was able to move to another state and use their NCARB record to get hired as an architect in the new state. That person's NCARB certificate still showed up as valid on that "Is Your Architect NCARB Certified" page for years afterward.  I emailed NCARB about it and got back a response that they couldn't do anything about it directly and I'd need to "report it to their state".  But the person was no longer licensed in any state, so to what state would one even report that? 


And no, NCARB's system does not send reminders of your upcoming license expiration dates. They do show that info on your page on their site, but then you'd have to remember to check that. I find the calendar on my phone is better at reminding me.


All that money and NCARB does about absolutely nothing more or less for that cost. Ripoff is what I call it.


With the basic hardware configuration, (the rest software) could do all that bi-directional query work. I'm surprised the states don't automatically update NCARB of termination of licenses and the basis for it. This stuff should be automated.


Mightyaaa -


I assime


I assume you do rollout and big box retail for you to be registered in 20 states...


@Bulgar... lol, no. Expert Witness stuff, peer review, disaster assessment, insurance, etc. Projects in CA, MI, FL, ND, TX and CO right now. Not glamorous big box... just more red pencil and reports sort of work :P


Beats low end retail... im licensed in CA, HI, and NY


I believe the professional memberships and fees at NCARB subsidize the exam costs


The exams are written by volunteers, administered and graded by computers. Many people take them 3 or more times. Subsidy?


I guess i'm just parroting ncarb, I have no idea how accurate that really is




Prometric isn’t volunteering to administer the exams. The computer systems that deliver and grade the exams need to be maintained.

Superfluous Squirrel

I used to think so too. Then we got a last minute exemption from the recent tax overhaul, and lots of sole practitioners dodged a huge tax increase. Lobbying is expensive.

Jun 13, 18 8:53 pm

I agree I feel guilty about not contributing to the lobby effort that keeps the profession recognized as a profession but my issue is the multiple multiple people who say, “architects deal with code and get jurisdiction approval?! Wow that’s incredibly integral.” Some public outreach beyond “look up” that reinforces us as in competition with houzz and Pinterest would be nice.


*as not in competition with


seriously? that low... :)

Jun 14, 18 6:40 am

I've repeatedly said I'd pay if it weren't for the requirement that you join every sub group applicable.  I shouldn't be required to join, and pay more, at the state level if I want to be a national member.  That's just bullshit. Oh and then we have regional chapters.  And we're supposed to pay there. No, nope, not gonna happen. 

I get zero benefit from any of the social aspect of the AIA.  The closest meetings are almost 2 hours from my home.  So, my benefit is AIA forms, continuing ed (which would be replaced by some other system should they stop certifying courses) and whatever supposed lobbying they do.  

Jun 14, 18 7:56 am

i agree that the costs are outrageous for the average architect, no wonder the average member is 55 years old.  

The social aspect is important, when I was laid off from a giant EA firm back in 2010 I knew almost no one in the profession.  Most of my graduating class had left the state and I knew no professionals outside of that work place.  The AIA helped me make contacts at a very wide variety of firms.  Between the aia and constant job hopping I think I have pretty good access to most of the architects in Detroit.  

I'm no longer an AIA member, can't justify $600, but I'm still on a committee and attend maybe one event a year.  I think most people assume that I'm still in the AIA, I'm not shy about no longer being a member either.

Jun 14, 18 8:38 am

The awarding of FAIA fellow status by AIA national has become a travesty.   Some of the most incompetent and unethical people in my chapter have been elevated to fellow status in the past 5-6 years.

I'm seriously considering joining the Society of American Registered Architects (SARA).

Jun 14, 18 11:28 am

There's a whole field of consultants who put together FAIA applications. It takes 2 years to get through that whole process, and a ton of work - really hard for the small or 1-person firms to do unless they pay someone to do it for them.


Yes, the FAIA application process definitely favors well-funded applicants.  They have relaxed the qualifications: AIA national told my local chapter that they "wanted to give out more FAIAs" and that the AIA national has an informal quota of giving each chapter 2 new fellows each year. In the old days, FAIAs were handed out much less frequently and very qualified people would be turned down regularly.


Yes, NCARB and AIA, dumb and dumber. Ever notice all the questions on the ARE exam about the AIA. Since when do you need to know about the AIA cannons or even a member to be an Architect.

Jun 14, 18 12:48 pm

The only ethics or canons question I recall from the exams were about NCARB's code, not AIA's. The questions pertaining to AIA were all about contracts and other standard documents.

On the fence

The AIA is a members only club.  Pay your dues and you too can be a member.

Jun 14, 18 2:29 pm

One piece of advice if you do want to join the AIA and can't afford it:  call your local chapter ask for a hardship discount.  The chapters have leeway to grant discounts, or even total forgiveness, if you have a good reason - such as unemployment, underemployed, serious illness, unemployed spouse, ill family member, etc.  They may try to bargain with you, so you might not get to be a member for free, but you can talk your way to a decent break.  If the chapter recommends a discount then the national AIA usually gives you the same % off the national dues.  I did that twice when I'd had periods of unemployment during a previous year.

Jun 14, 18 6:35 pm

that's a good idea. I guess could afford it, I guess I just don't want to.


My local chapter would laugh in my face if I asked for a discount. Because of high costs, just about all of the sole practitioners have dropped out of my chapter in the last 5 years. The overwhelming majority of people left are mid and upper level people from big firms that pay the dues for them.

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: