What do you think of SOME states allowing licensure as architects with a High School education?


I believe this is suitable for general discussion, since it involves students, educators, interns, and practitioners alike. Even today, with architecture becoming more complex and competitive, upon looking at the NCARB web site, 12 states, excluding Guam, allow for the licensure of architects with a HIGH SCHOOL education.  While it's not common, it's still an option.  One such state is California.  In such a market, the limited reciprocity wouldn't even matter.  In most cases, employment could be obtained elsewhere within such a large state.

People who license with a high school education have to usually complete IDP, and also work for a longer time period.  Still, this is not 1900 when someone could apprentice themselves to a dentist and become a dentist because there had not yet been a proliferation of dental schools.

I believe that a professional education ought to be required, meaning a 5-year B.Arch. or the M.Arch.  For example, look at the diligence and filtering that is involved for those pursuing the M.Arch. with an unrelated degree.  The applicants to those programs post their trials and tribulations here on this forum. I would even add that I think it is acceptable to license graduates of 4 year BA/BS programs in architecture, but require that their prescribed internship period be longer.  The reason is that graduates of 4 year programs actually made a concerted effort to obtain a bachelor's degree from a school that taught architecture.  Clearly, any foreign degree deemed to be equivalent should also be considered satisfactory for licensure.

We learned in our professional practice course that a profession is characterized by 1) education, 2) training, and 3) examination.  By allowing high school graduates to license, the educational component in training a professional is eliminated.  Again, this is 2013.  What are your thoughts about still allowing this route to becoming an architect? 

Jan 18, 13 3:55 pm

I know i may be in the unfavorable crowd here, but i don't have a problem with it. College is not a once size fits all to life. Wright did not have an college education, neither did Ando, just to name a few examples. you don't need a 7 year degree to prove what is already in you. besides most of the built environment was design and constructed by individuals with no college education!

Jan 18, 13 4:12 pm

I quit Architecture school because I thought it was wasting my time. I live in California, where a degree is not required, and I have qualified for exams through work equivalence. Best thing I ever did. I have stayed employed, while many around me  with their fancy book learnin' have been let go...16 years, millions of square feet to show for my efforts, happy clients, and a great life. The college thang...just wasn't for me. I apprenticed with an 83 year old former Wright apprentice, I worked with a former Gropius guy, and now with one of the worlds largest firms, just got promoted, as a matter of fact. They dig the fact I took the route I did. Different strokes for different folks!  Can't beat learning by student loans to pay back either.

Jan 18, 13 6:22 pm

I'm cool with it. You don't actually need a college education to do this job well.

Jan 18, 13 6:24 pm

Is everybody who thinks this is cool in the same situation; that is, they don't have a college education?  How did one even get hired without the education, when there were people with degrees looking to get hired?  I don't know of many architectural firms who would hire someone looking to climb with just a high school education, especially in crowded markets.  One can't put down architecture school.  You'll never learn design theory, the flow of architectural history, structural calculations, foot candle charts, and professional practice in an office in 3 years, which is what the experience period typically has been in CA and other states before IDP.  The candidate without the education will still have to learn it - from taking prep courses and reading the book.  You can't go into that exam without studying.  As far as saying "they dig the fact I took the route I did," this is in a major firm where most of the management supposedly consists of degreed, licensed architects?  That seems counter-intuitive.

Jan 18, 13 6:46 pm

I went through school observant, and I have no problem with anyone else getting licensed, degree or not. The most talented painter I know is an electrician who didn't go to college. My father is a contractor with a two year degree and better space planning knowledge of small residential homes than anyone I know. If someone like either of them decided to become an architect, I bet they could make a damn good one, without paying tons of money to have some self righteous professor tell them how the world should work. 

There is still a great deal of experience required in the field before one may sit for the exams, so why should someone with drive and motivation to work be forced to go to school instead of working?

Jan 18, 13 6:55 pm

I spent several years at University, and got myself a few degrees to show for it, including a NAAB-accredited professional degree in architecture. University was good for me, but it's not for everybody. I still think you don't need a college education to be an architect.

You do, however, need to be smarter than average and able to think in certain specific ways in order to succeed in architecture. University programs try, with limited and debateable success, to teach those specific modes of thinking.

The presumption (very much encouraged by universities themselves) is that if you can get a college degree, you are both smarter and more disciplined than average. The fact that employers are not allowed to IQ test employees but college admissions departments can (via things like SAT scores) simply means that the colleges are doing the pre-selecting that employers are forbidden to do. Thus, college degrees have become proxy measures of prospective employee intelligence and work ethic. This is the main reason employers are hesitant to hire non-graduates for critical job functions, not because college degrees are inherently worth anything.

Jan 18, 13 7:07 pm

I  started kicking tires when I was 17 years old, oh I mean twirling pencils.  I do not have a college degree and I have been a registered Architect Since 1992.  I have also been in private practice since 1992. I have worked on a  variety of project types over the years in the residential, industrial, commercial and institutional  arenas.  I find your comments most offensive.
During the course of my life I have encountered people who  for one reason or another did not take the  NCARB  accredited Architectural school path to registration. They are all outstanding Architects.  I believe the profession  is no more demanding than it was at the turn of the century in 1900.  In fact is was more demanding at that time. We have many tools and  associates who make our life easier than it would have been at that time.  
I  have  worked in offices over the years in a number of States and can say I was never without a job for more than a week even thru all the downturns I have seen over the years since the late 60's. My drawings  and projects have been published in  Architectural magazines and we have been the Architectural consultants for international celebrities. We have worked on homeless shelters and everything in between.
One of the biggest problems I see in the profession is the lack of diversity.  Having a bunch of middle class people  with a dabbling of rich kids  direct this profession because they can fall into a educational system which awards for payment is a sham.  If one has put in their time in the school of hard knocks, and can sit down in the same room and take the registration exam and pass it along with the kid who has paid out over a $100,000.00 for an education. I would say hire the guy from the school of hard knocks.  It is most likely been around the block a time or two and has no attitude. They just know how to work their way thru the system. 
Architecture is not about building monuments, it is about  builds which correspond to program requirements, which are SAFE.  I think aspiring to visual   beauty  is not something taught.  It is something one is born with, a need for a pleasing form. So if you go to University or are sitting in an office  you will get it sooner or later.  Well maybe I shouldn't go there because most of the time those educated architects  just want to do big box stores, and solve code problems.  Solving those Code problems and making a visual delight  now that is where it is at.
Those states you speak of understand a person can learn plenty from starting at the bottom, running prints, delivering prints across town, correcting redlined drawings, mucking around and existing site taking field measurements of a building.  Having to interface with the person in City Hall who may make or break your project, based upon the face you put forward.  That person eager to build models, and make coffee just to have the chance to do more.  This person learns to observe and see the mistakes of others and in time formulates an understanding of all the elements of a building system.  Unlike a student who with any luck learns about structural systems, electrical systems, mechanical systems and how they inner face with  Architecture, yet has no idea how they are applied in the real world.  That is until they are tossed into the real world aka "A JOB."
They are two learning  methods, neither  inferior.  It was the apprentice method who brought us  most of the great Architecture of the WORLD.  All you need to do is to think about your Architectural History Classes (that is if you had them) and ask how many of those buildings were designed by people with a masters degree from and Architectural School in America or Europe. 
I say bring diversity into the profession and allow that kid who doesn't have  the money to be in the mix.  Be it a boy or a girl who has the desire to apprentice  in to the profession the right to do so. All of the States you have spoken about do require people to work in an architectural office for a period of years which is almost the same amount of time it takes to get your masters degree in Architecture. The profession will be richer for it.  
For the record, one of Americas Great Architects and  Architectural Teachers  Bruce Goff  was not University educated.  He did however have a forever impact on the Architecture of  America. You look to the profile of the leading architectural firms of this past century and you will find people who studied with him to be major role players in those firms.  Most of those students coming from varying backgrounds.
If you can tell me what is learned in University which isn't learned by doing I will  do a 180 and run in your direction.  Until then, go suck wind!

So you have The Snooker Dude Take!

Jan 18, 13 7:16 pm

Observant....I learned how to read, observe, and do. You see, while you were doing your pie in the sky stuff at the big U, I was working in a firm on all aspects of real projects. College is great for some....I didn't want it, or need it.


Jan 18, 13 8:00 pm

Observant it sounds as if you have never worked...most of what you really do in school does not even cross into practice it is 7 years of fingerpainting while fun and you do learn design it is mostly bs. Clients will not pay for you to sit at your studio desk to ponder theory for 4 months. I think it is great to allow people to get licensed multiple ways. You can always become a architecture professor most of them have never put a set of cd's together in their life.

Jan 18, 13 8:14 pm

Oh and I did the bs arch-m.arch route ...

Jan 18, 13 8:15 pm


I am licensed, and have been for over ten years, and licensed very quickly after finishing the M.Arch.  I also had to take quite a few structures courses, technology courses, and a lot of optional practical courses, instead of the theoretical ones I could have taken beyond the core.  I also went to a community college for a term immediately after graduating to learn more computerized graphics before looking for a job.  Mostly, design courses taught me how to think of building programming and none of the projects were flaky.  I could honestly say that I couldn't be as productive in an office setting as quickly as I was without the education I got, both the M.Arch. and other courses taken at a community college. I've either documented, or designed and documented, quite a few buildings.


You have that attitude because that's what the jurisdiction you're in allows.  Look at a NCARB map.  Had you been anywhere in the Southeast, including FL, you would have needed an accredited degree to license. Had CA been that way, in a block with NV and OR, you would have had no choice but to finish. There is nothing "pie in the sky" about laying out fire sprinklers, doing site plans, computing where to place rebar in concrete beams or learning about how loads on steel floor beams work, right alongside design courses of buildings like rowhouses, museums, visitor centers, and hotels, among others.  Again, you didn't address how you got your foot in the door.  The "didn't want it, or need it" attitude is cavalier  A person who becomes a lawyer or a dentist can't pull this "didn't need the education" card because it's required for admission into the profession. 


This is sort of why I came up with this thread idea.  Sadly, I've seen B.Arch. blast M.Arch types, and I've seen B.Arch./M.Arch. "2" types blast M.Arch. "3" types as though they're getting a bargain, after another degree.  On top of that, the folks who don't have a degree get even edgier with those who went to school, just like I'm seeing.  One never knows where they'll be living, so most people think it's better to have the bases covered.  For example, an attempt from CA to stamp documents NV or OR without a degree is not possible, since the education is a requirement to get a stamp in those states.  These aren't the Bruce Goff or FLW days, and an electrician becoming a painter isn't a valid argument.  Today, there are 3 accredited routes to licensure, and also the option of doing it with a 4 year BA/BS in some states.  I wouldn't go to a doctor who didn't go to med school, and just apprenticed.  This don't need a college education attitude is interesting in the New Millennium.  I think a lot of people are biting their lip, seeing how infuriated some have become.

Jan 18, 13 10:50 pm


I wonder how you'd handle a resume with a hoity-toity M.Arch. that comes your way for employment.  I also wonder how many people can expect to walk into a humble entry-level position in an architectural firm in markets like Chicago, Seattle, Denver or Los Angeles, expecting to get hired so they can merely get the experience both to license or simply progress, without a degree.  If you started at 17 "in the print room," you could afford to do that, because at that age, you would be working at something that wasn't lucrative.  A 25 year old can't afford to take that chance, that of getting into the field or not because of not having a degree, nor the income of a high school graduate in their late teens.  The "go suck wind" ending is new, but I've seen this kind of indignant attitude from those who didn't go the college route.

If you were able to do this a long time ago, that's water under the bridge and that's fine.  I'm talking about TODAY.  Some people are biting their nails over getting into M.Arch. programs, if you read other threads, while some people don't have to go to school at all, and they can get to the same place?  I don't agree with that.

Jan 18, 13 11:10 pm

Buildings are really different now than they were in 1900, but I'm not really sure if architecture school teaches the skills to deal with this complexity (other than, say, critical thinking).  Your mileage may vary.

Jan 18, 13 11:38 pm

We can solve this and adopt the Canadian alternative path to license work + course work for the few that do not want to do traditional college. I do feel college is great and pretty fun as well. However, I not everyone is cut out for it or can afford the expense for 6-7year education. I also agree with the idea of you would not go to a doctor that did not go to med school, professions do need barriers to entry. So instead of a 12 year yearn of work with a has diploma , give the option to take theory and design course work concurrent with work at ones own pace if they want to become licensed. The profession should meet in the middle somewhere ... Shit I think there are even for profit medical schools now... Overall this has been some interesting points of view and sorry if I was a little snide commenting that you have not worked.

Jan 19, 13 12:10 am

Ob....Why is it a problem for you that I can be successful without a degree? Your argument seems pointless. And, why should you even care how others find their way into this industry? Those with the talent and passion will make it no matter what route they take...and some will no doubt just complain on chat forums..

Jan 19, 13 12:24 am

No problem, Shimmy.

I went to a M.Arch "3.5" after an unrelated degree.  My parents are hardly affluent.  I got financial aid, worked part time, and took out student loans for my B.S.  I then worked again and saved up for the M.Arch.  I took out some loans and was also granted some money.  After an unrelated degree, it would have been unrealistic for me to knock on firms' doors 4 years out of college, with completely different work experience, asking them "Can I move around an AutoCAD mouse for you?"

As for the schooling experience, it depends on where you go.  It was required that we take a fairly lengthy construction and structures sequence, so "x-raying" a building was sort of doable by the time we graduated.  Now, upon looking at websites of schools that once required 4 structures courses, they are now requiring 2 or 3 courses, and allowing more electives or requiring more theoretical courses.  I took a design studio every term.  We were still able to have the longer sequence of technology courses as well, so I don't agree with the fact that they have dialed it back a notch.

That's why I brought this up.  I doubt I could have gotten hired and licensed without the additional education.  I could have looked around for a year for a firm to hire me as a drafting jockey, and 1/3 of the time for that degree would have slipped by.

Jan 19, 13 12:25 am

Im going to take a guess when Kevin started working, times were better. Just a hunch.

I wonder how many kids fresh out of HS are getting arch jobs. As I know people w/masters who can't get one. Aint that a ...

Jan 19, 13 12:27 am


It's not a problem for me that you found success.  I just think that going forward this archaic route should be eliminated.  Is it fair for attorneys and dentists who have gone to 3 and 4 years of ADDITIONAL university to suddenly have people alongside them who didn't have to go?  I don't think it is.  Therefore, with an additional batch of schools now offering degrees in architecture (UMass now has the first public architecture program in New England), is it fair for the person who, upon seeing that most of their friends' fathers who are architects went to architecture school, goes to architecture school and, in this day and age, others don't have to?  No.

Jan 19, 13 12:32 am

You might consider not comparing Architects with medical doctors,..ridculous comparison.

Jan 19, 13 12:33 am

An architect is a professional.  When someone says "the neighborhood has professionals, such as dentists, accountants, lawyers, and architects," it means architects are being put on the same level.  That's why doctors are so collegial and want to make sure entry is controlled.  It helps them and they help each other in the process.  On the other hand, architects are catty and the profession is not as cohesive as others.  An architect friend said that architects are a lot like "a bunch of teenage girls competing for the same guy."  The professionalism could be higher.

Jan 19, 13 12:39 am

There is nothing archaic about learning by doing. You need to worry about more important things.

Jan 19, 13 12:41 am

You are sounding like you fit into that group nicely. I'm sorry you have to concern yourself with such things. I love Architecture, and it has been tremendously good to me. Best of luck.

Jan 19, 13 12:45 am

Evidently it's important enough for you to spar with me.  When I posted this, I was expecting a variety of responses - from supportive to not supportive.  So far, most of the responses have been from people who were somehow able to enter the profession after high school, even if doing simple office and drafting tasks, and believe this route is still viable and need to justify it in the 21st century.  I'm fine, too, after the grueling internship period, and after the grueling educational process, which is what I did alongside others who towed the line.  Most of those people did not want to roll the dice as to whether they could get into architectural practice or not.

Jan 19, 13 12:45 am

Quentin, It was 1996, I really don't remember what the economic climate was. I wasn't right out of high school I was in my thirties, and enrolled in an Architecture program at a community college. Less than a year later, I interviewed for a part time intern position at a well known, very busy firm. It was the firm owner who suggested I leave school to work full time, since a degree wasnt required to get where I wanted to go. So thats what I did.

Obliv---er I mean Observant...I think you were hoping for more people to agree with you, hell, even people with degrees didnt agree with you. You are is not so much us trying to justify it's still a viable route, it is you trying to express how it is not, which you have not succeeded in doing. The state of California and a few others disagree with you. Are you so naive to really believe education only happens in the hallowed halls of your universities? Open your mind to the idea that there are many ways to learn things. So far your argument is "it's not fair"..(I picture you stomping your feet and We both went through grueling education...I just happened to get paid for mine.

Jan 19, 13 2:01 am

I briefly looked into the alternative HS diploma route out of curiosity a few years before graduation (Bs.Arch, M.Arch route). I don't know what it is in every state that allows it, but I know my home state required a period of simply working under an architect outside of the time you spend fulfilling IDP. I do not remember exactly but this term was something like 7-8 years. (I just looked it up, both my home state and my current state of residency allow the HS diploma route. One says 6 years plus IDP, the other 8.) No, it won't be the same education, but you will still learn what it takes to be an architect. A university is not the only way to get an education. 

You can't really compare architects with other careers unless you simply say some careers require professional licenses or certificates to practice. In fact a lot of jobs do, even some that you failed to include in your list of "professionals" like contractors, truck drivers, or cosmetologists. Some of these require higher education or vocational training, some don't. What they do have in common, is that the state decides the laws that will allow people to practice in that state.

The question isn't what we think of some states allowing this, its why do you care if California allows someone with just a HS diploma and the willingness to work to become an architect? Are they taking your projects away from you? Are they charging less because they don't have to pay back student loans? Are they preventing you from using your NCARB certificate to get reciprocity in a state where you don't have to compete with architects that don't have as many framed diplomas? Are they hindering your ability to petition your state's government to change the laws?

If your pro practice course said you need education, training, and examination to become an architect, I fail to see how the alternative paths to licensure are negating any of those criteria. We all have to complete some level of education, we all have to complete IDP, and we all have to pass the AREs. Is it really that big of a deal how we all get there? 

Jan 19, 13 2:43 am

The NCARB doesn't support that model anymore, per their position. They support the accredited degree.  They also support IDP.  There is a value to the education in a M.Arch. program and I'm sure what I was doing in school is stuff one wouldn't see in those same 3 years in an architectural office.  In fact, the courses were 300/400/500 level and not  what would be offered in a CC, which are extremely limited at 100 and 200 level, and these courses were spot-on preparation for the exam.

Again, I doubted I could have gotten a job with the background I had.  Enroll in a community college for 1 to 1.5 years, to maybe get an offer?  Doubtful after a different degree.  Duke it out another 1.5 to 2 years and get a full fledged degree that could get me a license in any jurisdiction in the U.S. and Canada.  Sounds like a plan.

The state of California is in the minority.  It is one of 12.  The other 38 want either a NAAB degree, or at least a 4 year BA/BS, with a longer internship.  The logic California uses doesn't make sense to me.  I am sure they have their reasons.  Your argument starts to lose steam when you denigrate the argument with "college thang" and "hallowed halls."  Why criticize it?  That's what my friend's parents did - they majored in architecture.  That's even what Julia Morgan did, Cal Berkeley's first woman graduate, and responsible for much of the work at Hearst Castle.

It's not about it's not fair or not.  It's about the fact that lawyers, dentists, and pharmacists know there is a common core of learning they need.  There is a common core of learning that architects need.  It's about identifying that common core and baseline educational requirements.  The office setting is going to be a lot more varied as to the quality and amount of teaching you that stuff, if at all.  I doubt you'll do structural analysis in steel, wood, and concrete, compute sound transmission in walls, learn different types of architectural history and thought, etc. over the water cooler.

In the end, do the non-graduate architects prepare for testing by virtue of their office experience?  No.  They are scrambling to learn formulas for wind uplift and seismic impact through seminars and study manuals, alongside architectural grads who have already done those calculations in school. A real profession requires a formal education.  That's part of the filtering process.  About less than 5% of the population still takes advantage of that loophole, and they don't want it to go away.  Also, I've found just the opposite.  The non-graduate architects are NOT the most talented employees.  Neither are the ones who go to a 4 year BA/BS and sit on their duffs for 10 years, toying with the exam the way a kitten toys with this food bowl.  They're not committed.  I've found that the best architects are those who grabbed their college curriculum, and coursework, by the horns, produced good designs, got good grades in their graded classes, and then took the registration exam as soon as possible and passed it.

This is almost proof that a degreed licensed architect is better off not working under a non-graduate architect.  But I'm not just getting that from here.  I've also seen it firsthand.

Jan 19, 13 3:07 am


If approximately 5% of those who in this day and age still wanted to go the high school route could not, it makes your education and license more valuable.  Then, when some M.Archs. in certain markets are practically whoring to get a job, do you want someone undercutting you to work in the print room, and eventually be seated at a computer?  You wouldn't.  I'm surprised those who did the conventional 4+2 are being so conciliatory.  You worked your rump off, took time for professional study, and had to shell out money or take out loans to do that.  That should restrict the entry and make what you've done more valuable to an employer.  Not only that, by doing a 4 + 2, you don't even have to look at state and province requirements.  You are qualified to practice anywhere under the US and Canadian registration boards.  Maybe we should ask why FL, TX and OR, among others, DO require a professional degree?  Their point of view would be just as interesting to know as California's.

Jan 19, 13 3:16 am

"There is a common core of learning that architects need.  It's about identifying that common core and baseline educational requirements."

As identified and evaluated during the ARE. 

"The office setting is going to be a lot more varied as to the quality and amount of teaching you that stuff, if at all."

Which is why states require different lengths of time of actual experience for the different routes.

"I doubt you'll do structural analysis in steel, wood, and concrete, compute sound transmission in walls, learn different types of architectural history and thought, etc. over the water cooler."

Maybe, maybe not. You said yourself the office setting is going to be a lot more varied. More to the point, you'll be tested on this stuff in order to receive a license. If not, then is it really that important, aside from vanity or some inflated sense of what the profession ought to be, to know it?

"In the end, do the non-graduate architects prepare for testing by virtue of their office experience?  No.  They are scrambling to learn formulas for wind uplift and seismic impact through seminars and study manuals, alongside architectural grads who have already done those calculations in school."

So some learn it in school (higher ed) and some learn it while working, but from different sources. Can a person go buy the same textbook you learned formulas from and learn them as well without paying the tuition? Yes. Do the architectural grads who have already done those calculations in school still study for the exams the same way someone on an alternative route would? Yes. Is one person better than another for the route they take? No.

"A real profession requires a formal education.  That's part of the filtering process."

You're digging a pretty big hole with a statement like that.

"Also, I've found just the opposite.  The non-graduate architects are NOT the most talented employees.  Neither are the ones who go to a 4 year BA/BS and sit on their duffs for 10 years, toying with the exam the way a kitten toys with this food bowl.  They're not committed.  I've found that the best architects are those who grabbed their college curriculum, and coursework, by the horns, produced good designs, got good grades in their graded classes, and then took the registration exam as soon as possible and passed it."

Ignoring the issues with your most likely skewed sampling of the profession, do you really think you can make a statement like that? Talent and commitment have nothing to do with your level of education or your timeline for fulfilling all the necessary steps for obtaining a license to practice architecture.

Jan 19, 13 3:35 am

You say it's not fair....then you say it's not about being unfair, and then again you whine about value and fairness. Let it go. All you should be worrying about is your own value and contribution....I'm sure the industry will be just fine with the 5% of us who chose not to be like you. I will promise you though, that if I decide to do oral surgery, or represent someone in a court of law, that I will get a degree....happy now?

Jan 19, 13 3:38 am

My value to an employer should have more to do with what I bring to the table, not how much I paid, or didn't pay, for an education. And those of us with a 4+2 still have to look at state requirements. A NAAB-accredited degree is not a golden ticket to get a license. Aside from IDP and the ARE you still have, depending on the state in which you wish to become licensed, other requirements you may or may not have to fulfill. California, for example, requires the California Supplemental Examination (CSE). My current state of residency also requires jurisdiction-specific exams whether you have your NAAB degree, a HS diploma, or even if you're applying for reciprocity. 

I'm sure the point of view of those other states would be interesting and that's sort of my point. Each state is allowed to do whatever they feel is in their state's best interest. If that means restricting licenses to only degree holders, ok. If that means allowing HS graduates to get licensed as well, so be it. At national AIA conventions do all the architects get together and brag about how their license is worth more because it's from FL or TX versus CA?

Jan 19, 13 3:50 am

lots of insecurity in both camps at least.

for what its worth i live in japan (i'm canadian with march from cdn uni) where architects are regularly minted without going to university.  its a standard path for the entire country, and in my old office 50% of the staff were licensed after 7 years experience, no schooling just working.  it was not an issue as far as the practice was concerned.  they passed the same exam as everyone else.  the principal of the company only went to high school too.  no big deal. 

if i had to find a difference it was that many of the guys who didn't go to uni had a relatively poor understanding of history and theory, and as designers they were neither subtle nor advanced, but they could make buildings that stand up.  Based on that experience I see zero reason to give the issue any more thought. Neither way is better.  As far as Ando goes if he had taken that route too it would be a pretty boring comment.  What makes him special is that he never bothered to get a license at all. 

btw, if flw is really a model i guess we might as well throw in mies.  he learned on the job too.  probably why he didn't think too much of formal education...totally irrelevant to today though as far as i can tell.

Jan 19, 13 3:54 am

I support as many barriers to entry as possible to keep wages up.  Especially since we as a society have been overbuilding for the last 30 years, it isn't to much of a stretch to say that  a) all sectors of the construction sector are bloated in terms of labor, and b) more expensive labor would make building more selective, and thus (hopefully) more wisely executed

Kind of a roundabout argument, but yeah, I support any system that keeps the number of licensed architects to a minimum.

Jan 19, 13 4:40 am


First, I'm surprised after a 4+2 that you, and a few others, have this more indifferent attitude toward protecting your "investment."

Those who do not go to architectural school and go to work tend to do drafting, coordinating documents, and checking shop drawings, for the most part, which IS valuable, in that same period you are in graduate school.  They don't have access to seeing all the ways to climatize a building or lay out a floor system, keeping structure in mind, and having a rough idea of how much can be spanned or what the loads are.  They get it through a "crash" seminar, seeing it for the first time, while you had  a semester of it.

If you want to be an architect, go to architecture school.  If you are disadvantaged, they have financial aid forms.  If it's not enough, take out a loan.  Everyone who is able to license should, at the very least, have the base 4 year degree, many of which teach a variety of things.

And the point of state supplemental exams is sort of minor and moot.  They might be rigorous (California's extra test takes 2 months of studying) or they might be a quiz.  I've gone through 3 of them.  That's the least of the issues here.

The arrogance is actually displayed by those who didn't do the accredited path and put down those who wanted to get a traditional education, because they wanted to better ensure that they'd be credible candidates for employment.  In fact, I chose a program with a strong technical core for that reason.  Throwing out the "slang" and the insults doesn't help their case much.  In fact, it points out that working for them, should one have to, wouldn't be the greatest experience because of their need to put the ones with education in their place.  I've seen this more than once, by listening to comments in an office setting.  One way around it is to work in a jurisdiction where NAAB / IDP is the norm.

I'm just stating the obvious: 1) it makes the investment of those who have accredited degrees more valuable, 2) it creates barriers to entry which all of the other respected professions have, and 3) it tells kids who have a natural and precocious aptitude in design that this isn't Bill Gates / Steven Jobs type tech, where you can drop out, it's a profession for which completing a degree is necessary.  And I can't see how someone who likes architecture would be "bored" or "not challenged" by that.  Design studios, within limits, allow you to come up with the solution YOU want.  If anything, you have more restraints in real life.

Lastly, this is especially relevant TODAY, when new M.Archs. and B.Archs. are looking for their first jobs.  They shouldn't have to compete with someone who did 2 years at a community college vocational program for that slot. 

Jan 19, 13 12:53 pm

Then why is it you, with the lengthy posts trying so hard to prove your relevance. Stop feeling so threatened. At my stage of the game, employers nor clients look at my academics, they look at my work.

Jan 19, 13 1:12 pm

I tend to be more eloquent and detailed when I write.  I don't use terms like "college thang."  Granted, after licensing and after some 10+ years of experience, it's the work that speaks.  But here, the idea is about applying a "filter" to a crowded profession. Could you pull off what you did in 1996 today?  Doubtful.  I'd want to give that slot to an architectural grad.  It's about today ... and the future.  The post is not about the 1990s.

Jan 19, 13 1:46 pm

Yes, we are impressed with your eloquence...Yes I could easily do today what I did in 96. Try loosening up a bit. You don't have to carry the future of Architecture on your shoulders. There will always be that person without a degree with passion, talent, and desire to do whatever it takes to become an Architect. And sometimes the person with the degree will fall short. Lighten up, have fun, use slang.

Jan 19, 13 1:58 pm

Believe me, there are lots of architects who are wordier than I could ever be.  I'm a practitioner, so I can dumb it down.  But I'm not talking to my friends at a happy hour on this forum. No, I'm talking about getting your foot in the door today.  If someone needs to lighten up, it's someone who capitalizes architecture or architect.  When I graduated, and it was good, I had to send out a lot of resumes, make follow up calls, go to a limited number of interviews, get rejected at some, and then end up with a few offers.  It was NOT an easy process.  I'm rooting for the architectural grads who are currently going through the same process by having brought this up.  Read their trials and tribulations.  Some can't even get initial interviews.  Perhaps that's why you feel a little "guilty."  If you went the "worked up from the mail room" route, bask in that glory.  And if the person has the passion, talent, and desire, as you say, then they call enroll and complete architecture school, the same way someone who badly wants to be an attorney, a CPA, or a medical professional does.  In fact, if the person has all that, their application and portfolio will rise toward the top of the pile, and they'll get to PICK where they want to go to school.

Jan 19, 13 2:11 pm

I support as many barriers to entry as possible to keep wages up

I support as much competition as possible to keep good architecture up.  Your assumption that this will keep wages up is foolish too.

Jan 19, 13 2:19 pm

who cares if someone has a degree or not.  If you can do good work then thats all that matters.

Jan 19, 13 2:20 pm

I don't have a problem with the competition.  It's a good thing.  Applying to a B.Arch. is more academic, since those people can't assemble as much of  a portfolio.  Applying to a M.Arch. (especially +2) is especially competitive, since you've got 6 or 7 studios under your belt.  Look at how many BAs and BSs are turned down at some of the good schools.  So, for the person who has all this determination, talent, and drive ... let them compete for the slots in school, and then let them compete in the workforce.  No one is playing down the reality of, and betterment, brought on by competition.

jla-x:  you have a degree and you don't care?  or, you don't have a degree and this works for you?

Jan 19, 13 2:24 pm

Apologies for the capitalizing...part of my Wrightian training. Habit.

Jan 19, 13 2:28 pm

I have an M-arch and I don't really care whether someone follows the same path as me or goes about it in an unconventional way. 

I know several very good architects that do not have degrees and several really shitty ones that do......At the end of the day it depends on the individual.  If those unconventional ones were blocked "to keep wages up" for the shitty ones  our little world would be a bit less rich....

Jan 19, 13 2:38 pm

Cool ... and not cool.   The words doctor and medicine are never capitalized.  In fact, if anything, it shows the arrogance with which architects are bred.  I also know people with the best educations who trained under Richard Meier, James Polshek, and Ralph Johnson (Perkins and Will) who wouldn't have been in those offices if they didn't have said training.  My overall point is that architecture programs release ENOUGH good designers and architects into the field as it is.

Jan 19, 13 2:40 pm

Your attitude and commitment to life-long learning keeps you in the profession. Can't get that from a piece of paper. 

Completely agree with posts above, different strokes...

However, without my MArch, I wouldn't have my current job. 

Jan 19, 13 2:45 pm


It isn't even about money.  It's about professionalism.  It's about the defensiveness.  It's about the crowding.  In offices, they can be downright defensive, having seen the person who started at 18, and has more years in an office, tell the 29 year old recent grad across the studio "The solution is (this).  I even knew that," based on an isolated tidbit of info they picked up while collating documents or through a conference room visit with a consultant.  I've never seen that from one graduate architect to another.  It's a heck of a lot nicer to get together in a conference room with a group of peers who all interact like equals. 

Jan 19, 13 2:48 pm

as far as keeping wages up, it does nothing.  If anything it keeps wages down by creating a stratified structure of dependency where the entry level employee is at the mercy of the employer for many years.  His/her low starting wage as an intern creates a deep pit to crawl out of...

Jan 19, 13 2:49 pm

Agreed.  That's why I got the M.Arch.  To get a job and to get the mindset necessary for architecture in advance of the office experience.  Life-long learning is also necessary.  That goes without saying.  Most of us do better work after 14 years, than we did after 4.

Jan 19, 13 2:52 pm

Generally, the indentured servant wage lasts for 3 years.  If one tests early and gets some varied experience, they are more competitive in moving to a better job if they need to.  This is an aside, but different states have different time frames as to when you can test.  I tested in an environment where one could start before the internship was complete.  Some states are more radical:  they want you to finish IDP before testing, and honestly filling out IDP forms takes longer than 3 years!  The reasonable model is admission to the exam after a portion of IDP is completed, that way a person can get it out of the way and concentrate on their work.  Whether or not non-traditional folks are absorbed into offices doesn't affect wages one way or the other, since they are few.  The wages are driven by how well the economy is doing, the quality of the firm, and what that specific city/market pay.  I don't expect that to change, and it is not a part of this equation.

Jan 19, 13 2:58 pm

It's about professionalism

and professionalism is another problem imo.  We are trying too hard to conform to the expectations of the suit and tie "professional".  Architecture is different than law and medicine.  Architecture is an art.  If we treated architecture as an art/science, and did away with the illusion of a "safe structured path" there would be far fewer kids entering the profession.  There would be no expectations or promises of a career.  The only ones who would attempt such an uncertain future would be the most determined and most talented.  The ones that must do architecture! rather than the ones that seek a career in architecture.  But of course this would be much less marketable for the university and far too inconvienient for firms.....   

Jan 19, 13 3:00 pm

Taking a look what is being designed and built today, in general, would seem to conflict with the idea that enough good designers are being churned out of the schools.

As far as getting ones foot in the door, I cannot really offer much advice. I think if there are a string of grads going after few jobs, it is vital to set yourself apart from the pack. 16 years later, I still make an effort to do just that. I take pride in my unconventional journey into Ar..architecture. Of the three employers I have had, each have always made it clear they appreciated my approach. It is important, in my humble opinion, to be an individual, especially today, when everything is so team and committee driven. Recent grads could do themselves a favor perhaps to really consider who they want to be, and start living it.

But, in 16 years, I have been pretty amazed at how many grads are so indifferent about things. I really don't hear much architecture being talked about, which to me translates into lack of passion. Architects of the past seemed to be a bit more colorful than today, now fearul that they will be accused of being arrogant, etcc..Perhaps recent grads need to consider their place in the industry a bit sooner, in order to stand out from those who make me wonder why they chose architecture in the first place.

Jan 19, 13 3:10 pm

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