What myraid of professional orgs is everyone in? What are the must-haves?


Besides the desire to have alphabet soup after one's name.. I kid :D

But being newly-licensed I'm trying to figure out which organizations provide what, in terms of continuing education and finances.

I'm considering NCARB cert. ($450/yr) for the free continuing education units (I'm licensed in WA, so 24 CEUs per 2 years) as well as reciprocity (looking to get CA license down the line). But to that last point, I hear it's easier to just pay the bigger one-time fee when it's time to apply, instead of paying the yearly fee.

Perhaps also AIA (continental Europe chapter, $400/yr) for the name recognition and networking. I'm currently working abroad and would love to remain connected stateside, so having a professional network is all the more attractive - though not sure how helpful it'd be.

Thoughts? Any advice to a newcomer to this whole professionals thing?

Dec 5, 21 9:42 am
Non Sequitur

I'm a member of 4 org....  Prices are in canadian loonies

I have 2 for each of the provinces where I hold a license ($2400ish/yr for both) as well as RAIC ($450/yr) and my local city chapter ($30/yr).  The last one is more of a donation than anything else and the RAIC is more of a drinking club/social thing but it's hard to justify the costs if you can't get anything out of it. 

Dec 5, 21 1:07 pm  · 
1  · 

$1200 annually.. wow. And I thought the Americans liked overcharging. Are these very specific orgs?

Dec 5, 21 4:00 pm  · 
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Non Sequitur

Yes, and it's mandatory in order to keep my license in good standing. It gets much more (at least twice) if I also tag on a certificate of practice fee. It's actually a little under $2600cad... Quebec charges more than others, for some reason. 

So at that cost, it's really in your best interest to keep up to date with membership offers and perks.

Dec 5, 21 4:15 pm  · 

If your employer is going to pay the dues and fees, go for whatever they will pay for.

If using your own money like me:

Investigate the AIA chapter before joining.  If they have are having in-person and/or virtual events, attend a few as a guest and see how you like them and if they speak to your interests and goals.   The activity levels of AIA chapters varies from place to place.   I am currently based in a city with a weak local AIA chapter and it really makes the yearly dues feel like a painful waste of money.

With regards to CEU's AEC Daily and other websites can fully supply what you need free of charge.  I wouldn't do an NCARB membership  for "free" CEUs.

Dec 5, 21 2:51 pm  · 
3  · 

Thanks for the input! Always happy to find more sources of free CEUs. Though, I'm a bit hesitant since most of them (at least via AIA) do it to put you on their mailing list. Is it just a matter of signing up, taking the course, then unsubscribing? Or is it not that simple?

Dec 5, 21 3:57 pm  · 

I’m pretty sure AECDaily sells your info. After I signed up, I got a barrage of junk mail. For free CEUs, try IMI, APA, etc and other organizations that are more focused on technical knowledge and less focused on selling products. I find these much more valuable than the disguised sales pitch.

Dec 5, 21 4:11 pm  · 

I've found the amount of emails from AEC Daily to be pretty unobtrusive. AEC Daily emails me about once a week with an advertisement, but you can limit it to just that by checking boxes at the end of each CEU telling the salespeople not to contact you.

Dec 5, 21 4:16 pm  · 

I'm a member (though not really active) in AIA and CSI. Both include dues to national and local chapters. All paid for by my employer.

NCARB is worth it if you're still not sure where you want to settle down and practice and need reciprocity in the next years. If you are pretty sure you don't need reciprocity elsewhere it's not worth it, especially just for "free" CEUs. For the cost of maintaining the certificate you can pay to go to conferences, etc. to get CEUs and probably come out ahead. 

Re: CEUs, note that AIA membership and other organization's membership benefits usually include access to CEU opportunities for free or for a discounted rate. AIAU for example has a variety of classes you could take for free as a member. 

AIA membership abroad to stay connected is interesting. I don't really find that it keeps me connected (and I live here), but that's probably because I'm not that active. I'd recommend getting involved with the knowledge communities if you want to keep connected with professionals focusing on similar things, and could easily help with networking if you decide to move back stateside at some point.

Dec 6, 21 11:41 am  · 
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I actually am considering getting reciprocity in CA as well, so will probably get NCARB for a year just to get eligibility to take their supplemental exam, then drop it. Hopefully that's a valid loophole - get it for a year and get all the reciprocities you need. 

 And I'm not holding my breath for any big networking opportunities, esp. that there's one AIA chapter for all of Europe as compared to, say, Boston. I'll never know though till I put in the effort I guess - I'll check out the knowledge communities on offer.

Dec 6, 21 3:03 pm  · 

Consider real estate groups, such as some in the ULI. Good networking opportunity to meet folks outside architecture but who are still decision makers in the AEC/RE business and appreciate design opinions.

Dec 7, 21 9:01 am  · 
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My employer pays for my NCARB Certificate & AIA membership, so I did those. I'd have done the NCARB Certificate either way, but I probably would drop my AIA membership if they didn't pay for it. I don't go to any of the networking events & particularly in our segment of the industry it doesn't seem to carry much weight. I don't feel like I relate to AIA very well.

Dec 7, 21 10:46 am  · 

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