Calling yourself an architect



my boss thinks associate architect sounds better than drafter (rightly so) and so he printed some business cards with the aforementioned title for me.

I now have a lot of business cards that have "associate architect" next to my name even though I am not licensed.

Being the devil's advocate, if someone were to sue for improper use of the term "architect". Who would be at fault? My boss who printed out the cards and the firm that is named on my business card or me, of whom the title "associate architect" is affixed to?


Mar 20, 19 10:08 am

Architectural Designer is a far better choice.  I'd say that if you distribute anything claiming to be an architect, you're still at fault. 

Mar 20, 19 10:25 am

Even using 'Architectural Designer' is not allowed in some states. The OP would have to check his/her state's rules about allowed titles.


Just don't hand them out and you should be fine.

Mar 20, 19 11:12 am

I would think it would be your fault, but I would hope you could approach your boss and say that this isn't your correct title and you are not licensed.  Maybe print out the state rules to show him?  I know office (mine included) that just doesn't include job titles on business cards.  Only name and contact info is included.  That way you don't have to change cards every time someone gets a promotion.  

Mar 20, 19 11:49 am

According to the AIA, the term “architect” and all such uses of the derivative are regulated. Legislation varies state by state so researching the state laws would be the first step. Unfortunately for you, even though your boss was the one to give you this title, you (the intern) is still ultimately responsible for any consequences. When you pass these cards out, you are implying that you hold a license recognized by the state. This is known as “holding out” and will get you in trouble if the regulatory board finds out.

I would inform your boss of these regulations and have him come out with a new title for you. Project Manager or Team Leader works just as well. 

Mar 20, 19 12:06 pm
Non Sequitur

I want my next cards to say "Coffee Wizard"

Mar 20, 19 12:08 pm
atelier nobody

True story: For the first 10+ years of my career I was both a high school and college drop out (I eventually finished my BA) - I tried to get ", GED " on my business cards, but for some reason none of my employers thought it was as funny as I did...


If you are being deemed an "associate architect" then there is a contractual agreement in place I assume. That being said; then there is a scope and risk matrix either inferred or defined in that document. So if you distribute those cards you are accepting that role and responsibilities as well as risks associated with the title. 

Mar 20, 19 12:53 pm

amateur attorney hour 

Mar 20, 19 2:20 pm

The thing I'm curious about: Is your boss licensed?  Meaning, is he aware of the sketchy/shady nature of what you're describing?

Mar 20, 19 5:12 pm

sounds shady.

Wasnt there a change in usa recently about what an intern architect can be called legally?

Mar 22, 19 5:23 am

NCARB and AIA have issued statements trying to go away from that title, but it comes down to state law. i don't think there is any federal guideline.


this link has a picture of states that don't allow 'architectural associate'

Mar 22, 19 5:38 am

well that settles it. It is basically not allowed anywhere. Not just dodgy, its an outright violation.

When I was an undergrad student I blithely promoted my services to architects in the area as an architectural illustrator and was sent a letter by the provincial architecture association lawyer telling me to cease and desist. One of the architects I wanted to render beautiful pictures for complained. I didn't care exactly but it was surprising how protective people can be with their titles.

Seems a good idea to plan for trouble when claiming anything with the word architect in it if not licensed (and not in the computing biz).

Mar 22, 19 5:49 am

You should have just put your name, Illustrator, Bachelor of Architecture, University of Wherever, 20xx, and be done with it. If they still complained refer them to your school. 

Mar 22, 19 8:21 am
You’re offering design services with the business card. Your boss I assume is licensed. The company is able to legally provide said services. I wouldn’t worry about it. No one is going to sue you over a business card. In the mean time get licensed so you won’t ever have to ask yourself this question again.
Mar 22, 19 8:22 am

Only registered architects and IT people can call themselves an architect!

Mar 22, 19 1:13 pm
atelier nobody

It depends on what state you are in.

Here in California, based on job titles used by the Division of the State Architect, "architectural associate" is OK, but "associate architect" requires a license. Of course, DSA is not directly affiliated with the California Architects Board, and doesn't make the rules, but I figure since it is another State agency following their practice is a defensible position. Also, when there are violations, all that happens is you get a "stop doing that" letter from the Board.

On the other hand, I have heard of cases in other states where they came down on someone for having any of the words architect, architecture, or architectural anywhere on their business card (other than the firm name, of course). These scare stories could, however, be pure urban legends, since I can't say I've met anyone with any personal experience this bad.

Mar 22, 19 2:06 pm

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