Is NCARB licensing worth it if you‘re staying abroad?


I‘m an American citizen currently working in an architecture office in Germany - got my B. Arch in the US, worked for a bit, flew over and completed my M.Sc. here, now working full time with a visa.

A while ago I had been planning on ultimately moving back stateside to get licensed, and thus have been studying for the AREs (there‘s a test center here in Berlin) but ever since the pandemic I‘m really glad I‘m over here and not back home (not making this political), and seriously reconsidering those earlier plans.

Regardless, since I have some time I‘m still studying for the AREs, given more credentials are better than less. But assuming a long-term stay in Germany (can apply for permanent residence in 6 mos), is being licensed in the US of any use here? Any chance of working in European firms with US projects? Or is it going to look doubly bad if I move back home with a license and absolutely no US experience to speak of?

Jun 29, 20 1:07 pm

If you do come back to the US, having a license and no US experience will make you a stronger candidate than having no license and no US experience. Given your past threads, you seem like someone who most likely will continue to move around, and to wonder whether the grass is greener wherever you're currently not.  I don't mean this as a bad thing - it's just that you don't seem like the settling down type.  So, why not create as many options for yourself as possible, by getting the credential?  Studying and following through on taking and passing exams gets more difficult for a lot of people as they get older and farther away from their student years.  Other life circumstances have a way of taking priority. Also the rules change all the time, and you might find that whatever combination of factors makes you eligible to test now may not be the same later (different AXP requirements, no testing location near you, and/or who knows what else). If you've got the time to do it now, there's little downside (other than some fees) in doing it now.

Jun 29, 20 1:24 pm  · 

it's a credential and if you later end up working at an international office of a large firm the license will be a factor in your position and salary even if you're not working in that jurisdiction. so get it in whatever state is most convenient for you (check the renewal fees and ceu requirements) and just keep it in a drawer at home.

Jun 29, 20 8:58 pm  · 

executive summary: it's just money

Re US state license: yes, follow through. That is worth the hassle.

Re NCARB maintenance fees: Do the math for the continuous upkeep fees vs the reinstatement penalties charges. There is zero value to the credential until you need to send your info to a state that requires this ridiculous certification. Even then, you wonder what it is you are paying for.

Arch experience is arch experience at the right offices. Local stuff you can learn as you go. Don't stress about that part.

Jun 30, 20 12:48 pm  · 
1  · 

A new inquiry, without making a new thread (I seem to have made quite a few already): which country is better to be an architect in, the UK or Germany?

As mentioned I‘m working full time in Germany currently, one more year before I can apply for permanent residence. However I still feel like a fish out of water in all aspects.

Recently a possible path has opened up regarding working in the UK (it‘s related to the current events in Hong Kong) and while I would be starting from square one, if the prospects in the UK, i.e. London, are better, I‘m considering it. Is working as an architect better in Germany or the UK, in terms of prospects, salary, growth? Besides working language, that‘s a plus for the UK in my books.

Jul 4, 20 6:28 pm  · 

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