What's the reason for joining AIA?


Current architecture undergrad, nowhere near being licensed of course, but I am genuinely curious as to what the real intrinsic benefits are in being an AIA member? Is it just something fancy to put after your name once you're in the professional world to stand out? Or is there something truly worth paying for to be a member? 

Apr 22, 19 1:55 am

Not a member, so I can't tell you why you should join.  I can enlighten as to why I haven't.  

The closest local chapter holds their meetings over 1.5 hours from where I live. The state chapter doesn't do much of anything other than a continuing ed conference that would be of interest to me.  

So, aside from the supposed lobbying support, all I get out of the AIA is their approval of continuing education curriculum.  I still have to pay to use their forms, so, I'm not counting that. 

And for this benefit, I'd have to pay over $700 annually.  Because you're not allowed to just join at the national level.  You're required to join at every level.  The other levels are zero benefit to me. 

Even bigger BS:  My firm has to pay a fee for every non-member Architect.  So, my firm is still getting ripped off by the AIA, and I'm not even a member. 

Apr 22, 19 8:03 am

The "supplemental dues" (fees charged to firms for every non-member architect) were abolished decades ago by AIA at the national level. If your local or state chapter is still charging those then that, in my opinion, would be a good reason for you and/or your firm to at least voice your displeasure about it to the chapter.


Virginia is actually phasing it out. Non-member architects are still being charged this year. "Other technical" staff don't get phased out until next year. I still hold that it's garbage that such a fee ever existed. A non-member Architect is $334. Other employees are $206 each. Mind you: The Virginia dues for a member Architect are $328. It costs my company more for me to not be a member at state level than it does to be a member. Obviously, there are the savings of not joining at the National and Regional level. If that's not bullshit policy, I don't know what is.


The AIA can be a good place for students and early career people to network with older professionals and get jobs.   I recently went to an AIA/AIAS joint event and I think every student there left with a multiple interviews lined up for summer jobs.   Some AIA chapters have ARE exam prep programs also.

For me, 20+ years in, we occasionally enter projects in AIA awards programs, and that's about it.    The high dues prevent a lot of people in my community from participating in AIA.

Apr 22, 19 10:29 am

$700 a year each year for a working career of 40 years if compounded at 4% would yield $72,500 at the end of the period. The NCARB is also a money pit.

Apr 22, 19 11:42 am

where are you getting 4% over 40 years? I need that....


This topic has been discussed ad nauseam on this forum.  Same conclusion every time.  It's a club that you buy into.  If your firm will subsidize the fees, you might as well take advantage of it.  If not, save your money.  That said, it's like any organization--the more you put into it, the more you get out of it.  If you simply pay the dues and never attend anything--then chances are you will see zero benefit.  The ancillary benefit often discussed is brand recognition.  Like ordering 'a Coke' or the client requesting 'linoleum'.  With AIA behind your name, chances are most of the public knows what you do.  If that sort of thing is important to you, then pony up the $700. (I have found their CEU tracking to be helpful when keeping up on several state licenses).

Apr 22, 19 12:06 pm

Excellent post, gibbost. Sums up the endless conversations had here on this topic very well.


It somewhat depends on the quality of the local chapter. 

The 2 main reasons for me:

1. The national and (most) local chapters do lobby Congress and state legislatures with varying degrees of success.  This not only includes protecting licensure, but also ensuring that laws and code changes have input from professionals.  It's the less glamorous but a very critical function of the organization.  Individuals can lobby, of course, but a larger body being engaged is much more effective.  Some chapters engage lobbyist or legislative staff that helps keep an eye out on bills entering discussion.

2. Networking - I am still at a point in my career where having professional mentors and contacts I can call to get advice/questions answered (outside of the office) is helpful to me.

Apr 22, 19 3:12 pm

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