Value of Licensure?


What is the true value of an architectural license, monetarily speaking, compared to other license types like engineering, PMP certification, or a contractor's license? Many grants require a contractor's license, and it's common for designers to seek an engineer's sign-off on documents to reduce liability. This is a broad question, but I'm struggling to find a good metric for comparing the value of a license versus other types.

My current goal is to use a license for personal development projects like multifamily, but I'm unsure if I should pursue a PMP certificate instead for my 9-5pm job. I don't have high-end clients to afford architectural billing, and that's not the business I want to be in. My ten-year plan involves developing small multifamily properties and working in the energy sector from 9-5. The architecture career path doesn't seem viable for a reasonable quality of life; I've worked in two excellent firms but was paid significantly less compared to other industries, and that is how architect typically is.

In summary, what is the comparative value of an architectural license, a contractor's license, and a PMP certification? If this question has already been addressed, please direct me to the relevant resources, as I'm currently transitioning careers.

May 23, 24 11:43 am

bout three fiddy

May 23, 24 11:51 am  · 
2  · 
Non Sequitur

is that in freedom dollars or communist loonies?

May 23, 24 12:05 pm  · 

Frankly I don't know if many architects can answer your question, since the license's value to us is based on a very different career than the one you're describing. 

Someone will need to stamp your drawings, no? Stamps require work (supervision, standard of care, etc.) and it sounds like you'll be doing other things day to day. 

May 23, 24 12:14 pm  · 
1  · 

Thanks for the feedback.
I'm trying to find a metric. Arch License = ?. Arch license can make you more eligible for grants or banking at a rate of X, etc…
Yes, there are two questions/paths here that in theory can help each other if I make the right choice.
My professional career started in architecture and now I’m in the renewable energy market. My personal time is spent on permitting, developing, and managing small multi-family units.
I can pay an engineer $500 to stamp plans if needed and they take the liability and I draft everything. All the grant funding and loans I see for housing require a contractor license then equalling value to me.
The PMP certificate I’ve heard would help my professional path and increase my value.

May 24, 24 11:59 am  · 

asweat2024 wrote: 

"I can pay an engineer $500 to stamp plans if needed and they take the liability and I draft everything." 

Good luck with that.  

Most states require an architect to stamp multifamily housing.  In fact, I'm not sure if any state allows an engineer to stamp architectural drawings for multifamily housing.  I could be wrong.

Regardless, you're not going to find a 'stamp for hire' to take on all the responsibility and you do all the design and drafting.  In most instances a professionals insurance won't allow it.  

May 24, 24 12:05 pm  · 
2  · 

I’ve done it before hiring engineers to just stamping plans. Unsure if there insurance differentiates but they are reviewing the project and it’s all been simple stuff. Where is that code regulating states to differentiate? Does it apply if I am the owner as well? I’m only referring to my own development projects.

May 24, 24 12:58 pm  · 

For an architect license, there's really two different questions there:

  1. What value does the license have for you?
  2. What value does the license have for your employer/clients?

As an employer of architects, I see having a license as both an indication of seriousness about being an architect and a baseline certification for being an Architect. In fact, I can't give an "architect" job title unless you've got a license. I encourage everyone on my staff to pursue licensure, even though I will never ask them to stamp drawings. I will even reimburse the cost of any exams they pass while working for me. It's important as signaling a commitment to professionalism.

On the personal side, do you want to call yourself an architect and/or present yourself as a fully-qualified professional? If so, get a license.

With respect to other professional qualifications, licenses, and certifications, that all comes down to what you want to do, know, and how you want to present yourself professionally. PMPs are more meaningful in software development and infrastructure work. A contractor's license just means you paid the fee and have a bond, not that you actually know anything about construction.

May 23, 24 12:49 pm  · 
4  · 

Really appreciate the response. But to refine those questions.
1. How does an architecture license vs contractor’s license help me on my personal projects? What’s the ROI?
2. What license is best for question 1 and to help me in my professional career in the renewable energy sector? (Sounds like you alluded to PMP)?

What’s the value of a professional title? And I agree about the contractor's license not correlating to their skills. I would also apply that to any profession. People can pass test….

May 24, 24 12:12 pm  · 

Most states don't let you design (stamp) projects unless you're an architect. Typically single family residential under 3,500 sf can be done by anyone. Anything other than or larger than that typically requires an architect.

May 24, 24 12:19 pm  · 
2  · 

Comparing an architect license to a contractor license is silly. One is about as easy to get as a driver's license. The other requires an accredited degree, documented work experience, and passing a set of tests.

May 24, 24 1:46 pm  · 
1  · 

Can you send me the regulations? I’ve seen and had engineers do most of the stamping.

May 24, 24 1:50 pm  · 

Regulations are by state and city (or county). They can differ location to location.

May 24, 24 2:08 pm  · 

if you're going to introduce yourself to the architect you hire as an architect for legitimacy, i imagine they will see through your lack of experience quickly

if you're going to introduce yourself to the bank you work with as an architect for legitimacy, i imagine they will probably say "oh, that's cool! where's your equity again?"

May 23, 24 2:59 pm  · 
2  · 

Cool is not what I’m looking for. That’s what I thought in architecture school that cool equaled a livable wage for the amount I worked. That was not the case. I’m looking for actual value and the reality of what an architectural license vs other easier licenses will do for me.

May 27, 24 11:39 am  · 

Almost all the "Is license worthy?" threads are by hacks who want to maneuver the system and are fishing for stories to rationalize the easy way out. If you are that smart, get your license and STFU! It is not that easy but it is not rocket science either.

May 24, 24 1:36 pm  · 
3  · 

Quickly, the value proposition for me in obtaining my license is multifaceted. Probably first, I went to architecture school and in order to call myself an architect I needed that license. Secondly, professionally, I work on the GC side leading the preconstruction effort. It is easier to explain to owners and other architects my value or strength to a project when I have the license. 

The OP is less about ways around getting a license as much as it is what license should they get. Frankly the OP has little understanding of how to obtain the licenses and certificates they list. If you want to develop multifamily projects, better to go take a certificate class in real estate. 

The most successful developers I work with have close relationships with banks and investors. No special degree/certificate required. 

May 24, 24 1:54 pm  · 
2  · 

Thanks for the feedback. What’s OP?

May 27, 24 11:40 am  · 

Original Post

May 27, 24 3:00 pm  · 

the highest ROI is getting your GC license and learning how to operate heavy machinery. Most successful solo builders/developers run this model. One operator can do a lot of expensive dirt work, utility trenching, tree removal, clearing, foundation prep, compaction, retaining wall (ecology block install), moving building materials around the site, final grade… I’m sure I’m leaving out a few other things. The builders that I’ve encountered usually use local architect spec home drawings to get through the permit slog quickly. They don’t have to be dated plans either. I saw a Graham Baba (boutique firm in Seattle do a spec home design for a home in MagnoliaAlso doing your own project management will help you save the typical 20-40% margins a GC will charge on a build (depending on complexity and risk). 

Also it’s best to focus on a niche. I don’t understand why you want to be “just ok” in both the multi family and energy sectors. Why not pick one instead and become “good” or perhaps even “great?” Those two are completely separate beasts. 

In architecture you’ll require a lot of volume if you don’t have wealthy patrons, as you are alluding to. If you are a self builder you’ll get paid big at the end of a project, but at the same time assume very high risk. Do note: you’ll need to be able to feed yourself while hemorrhaging tonnes of money. So start small, to reduce the risk and pay day delay (1500 - 2000 sf single fam house). 

May 24, 24 11:46 pm  · 
1  · 

No body with a soul keeps a soul if they pigeon hole themselves to one thing and one thing only. You lose creativity and the soul and heart of creativity 100% of the time. Everyone that done it lost their creativity. Doing the same thing over and over is perpetual "groundhog day". Do you want to do door schedules 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, every single day of the year for decades until retirement? No. Of course not. Doing one super narrow niche only also means you don't do anything else which means you don't gain the diverse experience to do anything else but repetition. While multifamily may have more diversity than perhaps energy but there are both pros and cons. In addition, what will keep you busy working when there is a slow period or downturn in the multifamily residential as with any residential sector? The reason for two things is this profession is VERY susceptible to the boom/bust cyclical nature of the economy of the various real estate development sectors. Each sector except very few have have these cycles of boom/bust. Just that not all sectors are effected by boom/bust at the same time as the other sectors. They may enter them at different times. So you need to be able to do things. No one wants a one trick pony. Okay. You aren't going to be great as a one trick pony unless you just want to be a one hit wonder. Almost no one pays for great. They pay for competent and good but great is a bit far fetch for almost every client. Why? No client has the money for your greatest wet dream of great designs. You'll never finish it and would cost quadrillions of dollars because you'll never finish it even if you had 10,000 life times to complete it. Why because it never is good enough. It's the mentality of trying to be "great" like trying to be the master artist. FUCK THAT. Do the work and get it done decently, on budget, and get fucking paid so you can fucking eat and not starve to death.

May 25, 24 9:32 pm  · 

This feedback is exactly what I’m looking for. What is the value of different license types for my specific situation of 1- Career in renewable energy? 2- small multi-family development?

I have realized I do not want to specialize in one thing. I need diversity for life fulfillment and financial diversification. 

I understand on a small scale multi-family as I’m on my 4th unit. My wife has her realtor's license, which equals 3-6% savings. As for my situation, I do not see how pursuing my architecture license in California would help my energy career or multi-family development career as much as a general. And my general would be way easier to obtain and sustain vs my architectural. Thus far loans and grants only require a GC license. And no offense intended but engineers seem to be able to do more with their stamp and it has more value. But I went to architecture school not engineering, so that’s out of the question. 

I will say, due to the amount of work architects have to endure to design and get licensed I would think here stamp would have way more value.

May 27, 24 12:07 pm  · 

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