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


There are all kinds of firms.  From the coat and tie ones to the bohemian ones, and everything in between.  That's why there are different kinds of programs and different kinds of grads.  Some schools would not work for certain people.  Some firms would not work for certain people.  Some clients can afford cutting edge design.  For others, there is neither the money nor the need for cutting edge design, just good design. 

Architecture is not an art.  It is the blending of art and science.  The blurring or weighing of where one starts and the other ends is not measurable.  Still, the output is something tangible - something that is meant to be inhabited, and used safely and to support purposes.  If a person thinks they're going to art or design school, they shouldn't be going into architecture.  The person who is curious about both the artistic and technical aspects of buildings should be going into architecture.  Some of the M.Arch. people who came in with art backgrounds, such as painting, did not fare well in M.Arch. programs because they wanted to, deep down, remain artists.

The fact that there is a strong building science component and that it affects health and human welfare makes it a profession.  That's WHY it's regulated. That's why schematic design is short and the construction document phase is long, comparatively speaking.

The "tortured artist" type hurts the profession, if I'm understanding you.  It means they'll undersell their talents and the value of their services just to draw.  And that trickles down into the offices they can afford, the wages they can pay, etc.

When you have situations like I've described in offices, such as "I even knew that," it's time to raise the bar and level the playing field.

Jan 19, 13 3:17 pm

so do you anti-formal education folks feel that very many offices will give a job to a kid out of high school with no ambition of going to uni?


i'm definitely of the archtiecture is art persuasion.  building is for builders and i'm happy to let them do that.  they take an exam (in japan anyway) that is as hard as an architect's license, so all power to them.


speaking of starving artists, it's a bit different in archtiecture than in painting an sculpture i think.  mies often took a loss on his work, just cuz he liked it that much.  i can't see how he survived financially but he did manage, and the result was crowne hall, farnsworth house and seagram's tower.  not to mention inventing an entirely new kind of architecture, more or less on his own.  not bad for a guy who started off designing the text for tombstones and never made it to uni...more folks like that would be a great thing for architecture, not less. 

as far as some kid with a 2 year degree competing with a graduate from 6 year degree...if after two years someone can do better work than a graduate with an march and take the job of latter, then they deserve the job. hell we are looking for people like that right now.  send them over.

Jan 19, 13 10:57 pm

It's an applied art.  I was able to draw well without training.  However, taking drawing classes in art departments of schools in the evenings pre M.Arch. helped me to add shadow and elements which enhanced the 3-dimensional aspect of a composition.  And this was within the art department of these schools.

I feel that the person who selects architecture is indeed artistically inclined, but they like the practical arts.  Either in a class or through reading, I learned that FLW did not care for "non-objective" art.  Perhaps it was in studying the Guggenheim.

As for most of the people in offices without the education, they were generally involved in project management, production or even specification writing.  Rarely were they among the most talented in (building) design from my experiences.

Jan 19, 13 11:18 pm

Formal education is great for learning, but it should not be looked at as only an entry into the profession. 

Jan 20, 13 1:35 am

IDEO hires people of all kinds of diverse backgrounds because they want diverse approaches to the problem.  Architecture would really benefit from this kind of thinking, which is why I am so critical of what ncarb has done. 

Jan 20, 13 2:17 am

Diverse backgrounds?  Consider M.Arch "3."   There's part of the answer.  All of those people show up with different backgrounds, and complete a disagree.  Are they appreciated within most curricula for the diversity they bring to the table?  No.  Not if there are 4+2s alongside.  Nevertheless, they persevere.  That could be one answer to diversity.  Training people to put together construction documents our of HS who are "finding themselves" is not the solution.  The only thing that NCARB has done is (1) push for a professional NAAB degree within the slate of degrees, and (2) defer admission to the test until completion of the internship.  In that regard, I differ because (1) I believe 4 year non-NAAB architecture degrees should be allowed to license, with a longer internship, and (2) admission to the test should happen after racking up 1 to 1.5 years of office experience, before completing IDP.  I have no problem with 4 year non NAAB graduates licensing. 

English major?  Community college 2 year vocational program?  Construction management or engineering grad?  BFA in Sculpture?  No.

Jan 20, 13 3:17 am

oh grow up.  I think you are hurt by some personal circumstance and are looking for an answer to help heal the pain, this isn't it.

Jan 20, 13 8:23 am

Not at all.  Some of us went to a M.Arch. after unrelated degrees.  We wanted to GO TO WORK and improve our chances of being hired.  I looked at the NCARB site and found that there were still states that allowed HS graduates to license, and felt it cheapened the profession, and also let in a few who got in through the cracks, while others were going about it the way 95+% of the people enter the profession. 

What this pro-no education stance proves to me is that architects have a collective low self-esteem problem, and hold themselves FAR below all the other decently paid professionals.  That someone recounted Mies's doing work and taking a loss because he loved it so much, and thinking this is normal, is kind of offputting, not to mention bohemian.

Jan 20, 13 1:17 pm

yeah ^^ what there said.  I don't see why you care what other people do.  Worry about yourself and let others go about it their own way.  Diverse backgrounds are important in any creative field period no debate. 

Get ahead on your own merit and stop trying to win by default.   loosen up these tight constraints to create a more inclusive field, and you will see a greater diversity of people and projects. 

Jan 20, 13 1:22 pm

How about someone who toiled through their education, in both design and supporting topics, chiming in and saying that entry to the profession and licensure should be limited to individuals with architecture degrees?  Other than paraprofessionals, that is. So far, it's the same cast of about 4 or 5.

As for the more inclusive argument, about 30% of the projects I saw in any design studio were definitely very good, especially among 4+2 people, and this is an already crowded field.  I am confident enough to give credit where credit is due.

Jan 20, 13 1:28 pm

If you really love and care about architecture, you would want the architecture of our time to shine bright within the overall history of human civilization... you would put that greater good over your own selfish job security.  You would support inclusion and diversity over professionalism.

Jan 20, 13 1:34 pm

You missed the point.  Your whole argument, for having a degree, seems more "bleeding heart" than logical.  I saw this ridiculous idealism in school, too - that of single-handedly bettering the world through one's OWN work.  No, the world is bettered by the collective efforts of the profession. If you don't think there is enough inclusiveness and diversity in a crop of new architectural grads, look again.  I'm not looking after my own self interests.  I'm interested in rewarding those who have paid their dues, as are 38 of the states in the U.S.  Perhaps you can explain to me why those jurisdictions require degrees, and have for a long time. 

Jan 20, 13 1:41 pm

anything more than 4 years of school is an absolute waste of time if we're talking about licensure.  4 years gives you a foundation, and work experience fills in the rest.  i stand by the idea that if you have a four year degree in architecture (even BS, BA, etc) you should be allowed to pass the test and get a license.

I don't know about you guys, but I want to design buildings.  not be in school forever, in debt, designing fake crap on paper that will never ever happen.  most of the appeal, at least to me, is seeing an idea become reality.  i don't think its necessary to spend the better part of a decade in school.

Jan 20, 13 2:23 pm

 No Formal education

 Formal education

I'm interested in rewarding those who have paid their dues, as are 38 of the states in the U.S.  Perhaps you can explain to me why those jurisdictions require degrees, and have for a long time. 

It is not "bleeding heart" at all....It is cold hearted natural selection. Bleeding heart is supporting a formal system where real competition is limited and everyone gets a trophy.  I am for allowing the natural order of things to reward those who have the skill and talent to add something worthy to the field, and I could care less how they get there.  Those 38 jurisdictions caved into the pressure of the university industrial complex, the aia,  and the ncarb cartel.  Like I mentioned I have an M-arch, I learned alot during school, but most of what I have learned came from my own personal studies...I know many people who got through the program and did not put in one second extra to self educate.  Formal structure leads to mediocracy.  It creates a "safe haven for the mediocre" where "dues" are quantitative rather than qualitative.  IDP is just an extension of this mentality.  I am for getting rid of all licensure requirements with the exception of an exams, and allowing the field to be naturally regulated by competition and free-market. 

Jan 20, 13 2:27 pm

That being said......Even if it was not a mandate......Most people would still seek an education and work experiance.  98% of law school grads who pass the bar go on to work for a firm.  They do not just jump into having their own practice.  They have the liberty to do so, but as responsible adults they make their own judgements based on their own confidence in their capabilities.  Some capable ones start firms right a way and excell, others who have more confidance than capability fail and go out of business.  Why do architects feel that they have to police this license?  It is a little cray cray imo.  control freaks?

Jan 20, 13 2:40 pm

The fact that state boards are allowing this to happen is more a reflection of the architectural education, than what the authorities are allowing to happen. In a lot of schools, the education has become so irrelevant, that you apparently do not even need to go to school to get a license!

Voronoi scripts, anyone?

Jan 20, 13 2:54 pm

@Due 89 - I agree with this, as I said in my original post.  The 4 year programs provide a handful of studios, a history sequence, some insight into theory, and a sequence of structures and environmental control courses.  Some of them are more comprehensive (and actually impressive for 4 years) and some of them are a little looser on what one needs to take.  I think a slightly longer minimum work period, such as 5 years instead of 3 years, could differentiate the requirement, but that's about it.  Largely, I admire the graduates of 4 year programs too because they decided to complete a degree in architecture.  They liked it THAT much.  I have numerous friends who have a 4 year BA or BS in arch. who licensed.

Jan 20, 13 2:56 pm

jla-x...Observant will scold you for using unprofessional slang like "cray cray" his eyes, the profession just took a nose dive.

Observant...Don't you find it interesting that of the thousands and thousands of people who frequent this venue, you can't find a few to back you up? If you need to place such high regard for your education to prove your value, then maybe something is wrong. Wouldn't you agree that there must be a great deal of innate talent, understanding and intuition to succeed? Maybe you should do the leg work and call those states and ask why they either do or don't require degrees. It's your beef, you do the research, stop whining about it and find the answers. Surely you had to do research at the big U., you'll know what to do. If you have a problem with firms hiring non degree professionals, call who is responsible for hiring, and find out why. Get some answers and get back to us. You started this thread to have a circle jerk of people who agree with you, and it hasn't happened, and you are really starting to sound immature....but of course very eloquently...

You want people rewarded for paying their dues, you say. You will then be pleased that I continue to be rewarded for paying my dues.....we just had different dues, both being hard hard work. If you want change, write your congressman or something.

Jan 20, 13 3:04 pm


You're looking for a needle in a haystack with those pictures, which show extreme examples.  Even kids with a high school education sometimes come up with "neat" design-your-own home solutions, but have no idea of integrating the ingredients of architecture.

You're right.  I would have opted for an education nonetheless.  First, as I have stated, mine was not fluffy.  Sure, I had a seminar that dealt with Renaissance Architecture.  I also learned a lot of really, really practical things.  I was able to synthesize as a result of my education.  That's what it teaches one to do - synthesize.  It took me 3 years, since I had another degree.

Could someone who started the "office only" route be able to synthesize in those 3 years, or in 5, or in 8?  I don't think so.  In exact same time increments, graduate architects tend to do better.  I was able to have intelligent conversations with structural engineers about the way to lay things out within 1 to 2 years, and they remarked I was more perceptive than a lot of interns they spoke with.  Why?  A course in steel.  A course in concrete. Good grades.

For that matter, law school doesn't teach you to be a lawyer.  It teaches you to think like one, be exposed to the structure of the profession, and see some of the tools and resources.  Lawyers tell me that new attorneys need to be trained.  However, there is NO entry without an ABA accredited law degree and the bar exam.  Are there people without a law degree who reason better, write better, and are smarter than some lawyers?  Yes.  Do they get to be lawyers?  No.  Again, if they LOVE the law, a very noble occupation if you consider William Pitt's statement "Where law ends, tyranny begins," then they will do what it takes to get in, and get through, law school.  It's not about a "lobby" of snobs.  It's about creating a baseline for that profession.

Jan 20, 13 3:11 pm


Most of my friends/peers agree with me.  A few are indifferent.  As for the latter, that's because, well, you know the "sensitive," politically correct types found in architecture.

You mentioned you dropped out of architecture school.  After reading more, you dropped out of a vocational program at a community college.  Couldn't you have just worked around the schedule, part time, until you at least finished that?  If your employer valued you that much, they would have allowed for that ... architecture classes during the day, and general education at night.  If in Calif, credit units at a CC cost $20 per unit, and are America's educational bargain, unless that has gone up.  The "Big U" comment is another good one, and par for the course.

I'm sticking to: (a) NAAB degree - IDP w/ a min. of 3 years, and (b) non-NAAB 4 year in arch. - IDP w/ a min. of 5 years.  That TAKES CARE OF, and admits, a lot of people.  It also makes for a lot of talent, diversity, different life experiences, and dedication infused into the profession. 

Jan 20, 13 3:21 pm

Observant...I don't want to bore you or the rest with my long story....and it is a long one. I was in another industry, successful, but hated  it. Hated every minute of every day of it. For me quitting the CC was a no brainer. I was involved in, thinking about, studying architecture on my own since I was a kid. It came easy to me in a lot of ways. As people in my first firm experience would leave, the owner would ask if I could do certain things, I would say yes, then figure out how to do it. I quickly moved up in the firm, and became one of the lead designers, but smaller firm, so learned to take projects from sketches on flimsy to ultimately casting shadows...start to finish. Then my big break came with a well known former Wright apprentice. I eventually would take sabbaticals to Taliesin West, and hang with other former apprentices, and sleep in the desert in apprentice made shelters. The traditional school route for me, just seemed like going backwards. My education became locating old Architects whose work I admired, and getting to know them and learning from them, along with my work at the firms. One of my mentors passed away (another Wright apprentice from the 1950's) and I now live in the house he designed and built for himself. My life is in a sense 24-7 architecture. I realize my story is not at all typical, and I can understand how many would not see it as a route for themselves. My education, my way, is deeply important to me. My mentors were untraditional, they were friends, and they were 24-7 architects, it was their life. So, thats the short version, and why I did things the way I did.

Jan 20, 13 3:50 pm

That's fine ... and atypical.  Before going off to M.Arch., I was living in a big city in a degree required state.  I was working doing something else and being paid reasonably well, and taking classes at night at a CC in architecture, also taking the calculus requirement, and also working on my portfolio.  I also became friends with my teacher, who got his degree at one of the better Texas schools (this was not in Texas).  He invited me to come into his firm, one with several offices, to get several opinions on my portfolio pieces.  One of his colleagues said, "If you can do this, I'll give you a job in our production department right now."  Double edged sword:  get experience right now and enjoy the work OR take a pay cut, advancement versus other architects would be uncertain, how that would transfer to another office would be uncertain, not being able to license in that state, and then regret I didn't go to archi. school because of all that ... when I was looking to be admitted the fall of that same year.  In most people's situation, like mine, most people would have chosen to go to school.

Jan 20, 13 4:20 pm

I'm sure a "cool story, bro" comment won't be far behind..

Jan 20, 13 4:21 pm

I am not looking for such a comment.  I was giving you a parallel situation.

Jan 20, 13 4:45 pm

I meant from others.

Jan 20, 13 5:54 pm

As most college architectural programs are about psuedophilosophical conceptual artistic bullshit rather than building practice and technology, I don't see the need for a degree as a prerequisite for a license. In fact many graduates flunk the test repeatedly because they are not prepared to take it by their so-called "higher" education (or thier internships).

Practical experience in the field trying to build some of the crap produced by name brand university architects who think that mastery of a mouse and some CAD program makes them Louis Kahn reinforces the point emphatically.

Jan 20, 13 6:24 pm

that's demonstrably untrue, miles. 

just to offer a test to some of the claims above...

all professors here have to have phd and license, more or less.  most have offices too. so we know what we are talking about when we teach.

above that, the architect's license is an engineer's license (people decide to practice as engineer or architect but license is the same), so it's practice oriented.

even with those very high standards the education ain't any better that i can tell (i am professor, in school with very good professors on board, as well as run own small office so i see both sides).  the architecture ain't noticeably better either. 

in the end its about what we do, not the qualifications we have.


as far as mies not making money on his design work, well you know he loved the profession that much, to paraphrase a bit.  i don't think he suffered for it, but he was unique.  not really a model for most, though i wish he  were.  we need more creative and unfearful people like him around to take the profession forward.  i mean this is a guy who asked to meet with the SS to discuss keeping the bauhaus open.  seriously fearless man.

Jan 20, 13 7:53 pm

Miles, I'm surprised at your point of view, supporting the viewpoint of some people that architectural education is flaky.  I felt that it was anything but.  The initial term's studio was flaky because that professor needed to RETIRE, and he did just the following year.  Also, he was a PhD and not a licensed architect.  In subsequent studios, professors were architects and our projects were very true to life, in terms of the building type, the program, and its "constructability". I also had to take many technical courses.  I received high grades because I was always in studio or at the library.  I then went to work.

After about 3 years of work, I curled up with my prep books and attended seminars given by the local AIA in some of the test areas.  When the test was wrapping up being administered on a semiannual basis, I passed building design/site design at one sitting.  I passed the rest of it at the next sitting.  No retakes were needed.

Everyone I know who was serious about school, serious about the breadth of the curriculum, serious about going to work, and serious about testing early were competent at everything they did - be it in school or at work.  I will also gladly admit that I lived architecture 24/7 while in school (who doesn't?), and certainly don't believe in that after entering the work force.  Dedication does not require 24/7.  One wouldn't have any friends, except for other similarly fanatical architects.

Jan 20, 13 8:17 pm

observant, I can only speak from experience.

Ever listen to architects argue about the number of degrees a building should be turned on the site without consideration for topography, light, views, traffic flow, etc.? Ever been asked to price a square hole in a tempered glass partition or build a magical 15' double cantilever in the space of a single structural member?

When I was at RISD, Friedrich St. Florian had 5th year students doing mural size presentations in isometric with ink on vellum. Instead of focusing on design, or communicating design ideas, or even different ways to communicate, these poor students were desperately using razor blades to scrape mistakes off the vellum. In hindsight this was perfect training for long careers of drudgery as mindless draftsmen forever redrawing their master's ever-changing designs.

When I look at some of the postings here I see that things have only gotten worse. Instead of ink on vellum we have CAD, and nobody knows how to build anything. The level of bullshit in university architectural dialogue today would flood beyond capacity the NYC sewer system.

The most consistent thing I've seen in "professional" architecture is incompetence. For the most part architects are good at spending their client's money and making contractors the scapegoat for everything from cost overruns to their own mistakes. My personal favorite is when the son-in-law / nephew fresh-out-of architectural school is given a family commission, which invariably turns out to be their only project. Ever.

You want art in architecture? Make a building built from sustainable materials within a responsible budget that performs some basic functions and doesn't leak. Bonus points if it looks like something someone actually wants to live / work in. Architecture is not art but rather craft. It only becomes art - and only rarely - when it has stood the test of time.

My idea of architectural training is old school, classical training in fine art and some actual construction experience. Renaissance to Bauhaus, they had it right. If you're studying Eisenmann (ick) and Gehry (gag) you're not an architect, you're a clueless fashion wannabe.

Jan 20, 13 11:41 pm

Yes, add a Morphosis project that made the cover of some architectural magazine in the mid 90s.  It made me think of Skylab, after it crashed into the Australian Outback on 7-11-79.  People were accepting that "vocabulary" as the norm.

Sure, there are those who speak in those flowery terms, but I didn't see many.  I've seen misuse of words.  One studio professor asked a student what aspect of the building he was working on, to which he responded "I'm fenestrating."  Yet another student who was a senior in the 4 year sequence, who thought he was a design savant and salivating to do his +2 at Sci-Arc, was in studio at all hours, looking as if in a trance, yet sleeping in structures classes, where he was barely passing.

The product of  architectural schooling is often determined by "flaky program & profs versus sensible program & profs" COMBINED with "flaky students versus sensible students." That, from the get-go, makes for 4 types of architectural grads.

I don't know "old school," except by reference while in school.  Rather, I think (a) the NAAB needs to clamp down on the wide variability of what is taught within programs in order to accredit them, and (b) IDP should be shelved to return to "timed" internship periods under licensed architects.  With architectural programs now visible on line, one can see the swing away from comprehensive nuts and bolts curricula to more theoretical, ivory tower ones.  I don't agree with that direction.

Jan 21, 13 12:34 am

observant, law is different.  My point was just that even without the mandates people will usually act in a responsible way, and if they do not the "market" will smack them back to reality.  I don't see the harm of making the field more inclusive and less regulated.  It often seems that we spend too much time regulating people and way too little demanding quality work and fighting for meaningful things like sustainability.  Shit if we just demanded simple things like mandatory proper solar orientation for new builds we would eliminate alot of waste...Architects are too busy fighting each other for the last slice of pie....

Jan 21, 13 1:02 am

"As most college architectural programs are about psuedophilosophical conceptual artistic bullshit rather than building practice and technology, I don't see the need for a degree as a prerequisite for a license. In fact many graduates flunk the test repeatedly because they are not prepared to take it by their so-called "higher" education (or thier internships)."

Exactly.  Licensure has nothing to do with anything but safety and liability.  Contrary to what people think, its not some kind of buffer to weed out "bad designers."  Everyone in this profession thinks they're so high and mighty, like the rest of the world can't possibly understand the importance of well-designed architecture... which may be true, but its not the point of licensure.

Although I feel a degree is necessary for the test, there should also be an experience equivalent.  I think the whole "NAAB accredited" BS is ridiculous.  If there was no requirement, the number of classmates I had in my M.Arch year would be significantly less.  And we didn't learn anything test related, except for maybe some contract/pro-practice related stuff.

Jan 21, 13 1:12 am

Hey, I'm not responsible for the 4+2 model.  That's become more in vogue as of the last 3 decades.  I think a B.Arch. is better.  If you look at the +2, it's a series of studios and a thesis, a pro practice class, and a bunch of electives.

The architect is responsible for the spatial and enclosure system, which is a handful.  Then, they integrate the work of allied engineers, so taking the tip of the iceberg of those topics in classes is also valuable.  A messed up spatial system (egress loads through a stairway) or an enclosure system that isn't buttoned up are big problems.  Sure, there are a some "bad designers" in studios, but generally not more than 25%.  They never go on to be designers in offices, anyway.  They coordinate projects, attend construction meetings, and write plan check letters and specifications.  They know they're not stars.  And if they don't know that, they'll soon find out.

I supported IDP and applaud the general idea, but it's messy.  I licensed with the flat 3 year experience requirement, which was great, and then tested ... but did IDP at a leisurely pace for other licenses after the first license.  No worries.  I just tracked hours with each time sheet, feeling relaxed with the test behind me.

Actually, I don't see what the issue with regulation is.  If a person does a degree and takes the test, they are really no longer THAT regulated.  After that, they pay licensing fees and take some continuing ed.  The architect is then free to come up with building designs that clients and architects agree upon, and that gets through the building department plan check process, where aesthetics is not in their purview.  A lot of good projects show up in the magazines monthly, so no one is THAT restricted.  I'm seeing a lot of creativity.  In fact, the pushing of the envelope by architects is moving forward at an accelerating pace.  However, these designs also look expensive to detail and build.

Jan 21, 13 1:40 am

I'm sticking to: (a) NAAB degree - IDP w/ a min. of 3 years, and (b) non-NAAB 4 year in arch. - IDP w/ a min. of 5 years.  That TAKES CARE OF, and admits, a lot of people.  It also makes for a lot of talent, diversity, different life experiences, and dedication infused into the profession. 

So you're all for admitting "a lot of people" into architecture. In fact you want to in order to ensure "a lot of talent, diversity, different life experiences, and dedication." But yet you disagree that those who haven't done a minimum of 4 years of higher education and earned a bachelors degree don't offer that to the profession. I would think that anyone who holds just a HS diploma and can make it through to licensure would have quite a bit of talent, diversity, different life experiences, and dedication. What does  mandating that every architect has 4 years of roughly similar experiences at a university do to add talent, diversity, different life experiences, and dedication? I'm not saying that doing it your way would somehow homogenize the profession. I just don't buy that allowing a small percentage of architects into the profession without any degree really devalues the profession. 

Of course, your argument may be better taken up with the AIA, NCARB, NAAB, ACSA, and any other acronym-laden organizations that you can get on board. Get them to lobby congress to institute a national registration for architects that only allows those with degrees to apply. Homogenize the path to the profession in order to control the diversity and types of life experiences that are allowable in becoming an architect. You might also want to include provisions for para-architects (sort of like paralegals) so that those who aren't dedicated enough to get a degree can still get their hands dirty without really practicing architecture. The profession will need someone to put down anyway once we elevate ourselves to a higher playing field like doctors and lawyers. Interns just won't cut it anymore because at least they went to school and are committed enough to jump through the proper hoops ... their life has meaning and direction.

Jan 21, 13 3:05 am

i are lisensed and aint got no college edicayshun. yall wit ur fancy storebought clothes think yer so special.

Jan 21, 13 10:16 am

oh grow up.  I think you are hurt by some personal circumstance and are looking for an answer to help heal the pain, this isn't it.

As usual, there is no there cuts right to the truth and states it succinctly.  I can't believe this thread is this long.

Edited to add: The whole world, not just our profession, is changing ridiculously quickly and will only accelerate. Lots of old-school structures are collapsing. Being flexible and open to knowledge wherever one finds it is good if one wants to thrive.

Jan 21, 13 10:54 am

Donna, how about the knowledge that we've lost to "progress"?

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Jan 21, 13 12:12 pm

It is broke though.

Jan 21, 13 12:57 pm

There you go, Donna.  Read User777's post.  I was once speaking to an architect, presumably in his 40s, and I then asked "Oh, where did you go to school?"  Sheepishly, he answered "I didn't go to school."  Others get snippy and defensive.

And you moved several times, to pursue a B.Arch. and M.Arch., and have even been an educator, yet you have this opinion.  It's always been obvious to me that architects are, as a whole, a lot more invested in being politically correct than are other professions. Even accountants, who need at least a BA, have closed the door on those who took a few specific courses and wore a "green eyeshade," for their license.  Your domicile of Indiana says "no dice" to "no degree," not even the 4 year variety.

@everyday:  The states don't "cave in" to anybody to make those policies.  They make them on their own, using a board of practitioner members and people in the public to come up with policy.  That's why there is divergence among the states.  The crop of people produced from unaccredited BA/BSs through extended M.Archs. is sufficient to meet the needs of the licensed profession.  If those who LOVE and BREATHE architecture want to be architects, tell them to enroll in the 4 year program at their least restrictive state university.  Look at all those people who want to be lawyers.  Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor, dirt poor from The Bronx, made her way through an Ivy League law school to reach her goals.

For the list of how divergent the state requirements are, here you go - focus on items 5a and 5b:

Jan 21, 13 3:31 pm

@ observant

for the record, I also have an undergrad and grad. both in architecture. i admire your career path to licensure, but I am not one who feels it is necessary to "protect the shield" so to speak. i also started my career path with no formal education, then went to a jr. college for a year and a half. then was hired in the city i grew up in, chicago, ill. the firm i worked at had a guy who drew on a board, and also a guy who had no formal training. in fact the very next firm i worked in after that one, was guy who only had a high school drafting training and learned autocad, and at the time he was making 55K! I don't believe there is a one size fits all career path. and that architecture is about spatial manipulation. not a hard thing to understand seeing that we all (human beings) occupy space. in my personal experience it seems individuals with no formal education , are always attacking those w/, and many of those w/ seem some what elitist and even more so w/ grad degrees. i worked at a firm were the guy had a grad degree and was always using some fancy formula to calculate roof loads that took half the day instead of just getting a catalog and going thru the chart that took 20mins

Jan 21, 13 4:17 pm


Virtually every 4 + 2 I've known spent quite a few summers after, say, junior year in architectural offices.  They were all practical.  The ivory tower ones went on to teach or write books on architectural theory.  As far as structure goes, the most I've done is generically lay out floor spans and place columns where I thought they'd instinctively go, based on what I learned in school.  The SEs told me "pretty good," and we'd then make minor adjustments to run through ducts, plumbing, fire sprinklers, and illumination, if that was even needed.

Most M.Archs. I knew turned out to be practical.  A small few never removed their faces from a book.  Also, I've never worked in situations where they were aiming for prized or published work.  I've been perfectly happy doing generic, but useful buildings, including tilt-ups, school remodels, and tenant improvements.  No complaints.  I'm not ivory tower.  I just wanted to ensure admission to the world of work.

Jan 21, 13 4:34 pm

I don't understand why you're so concerned about restricting access into the profession.  are you out of work?  having trouble getting clients?  genuinely concerned about this epidemic of poorly constructed buildings that are regularly killing people in the US?  oh wait - that last one isn't happening.

Jan 22, 13 2:06 am

How about someone who toiled through their education, in both design and supporting topics, chiming in and saying that entry to the profession and licensure should be limited to individuals with architecture degrees?

I'm not here to be that person. 

In 2007, I was just finished my first semester of architecture school when I went to visit my mom in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Near her apartment there was a small architecture firm doing surprisingly interesting work (surprising because, well, it's Saskatchewan.) A guy was just closing the doors and I stopped him and asked if he worked there. He was about my age. When I asked about his education (knowing there are no architecture schools in all of Sask., he said...

'Yep, I took architectural drafting at N.A.I.T. and then took a 6 month computer modelling course in Medicine Hat.'

I hadn't even cracked open a computer and was at least 5 years and $100 000 from being in his position.

I knew then that there was no advantage to my going to school. All of my professors confirmed this by constantly telling me that 'you will learn x skill on the job, that's why we don't teach it here.' Always seemed like I would learn everything 'on the job' so... what was the point of school?

I spent a total of 6 years going to school and while I'm glad for the different opinions and experiences it has opened up for me, you could easily get the same experiences in other ways. Most of the time, though, I just feel like a chump for wasting so much time and money when I could have been a project manager by now.

By the way. When I am in a position to hire and fire, I probably won't hire those who got good grades. I was hated by my professors for not believing in much of their bullshit, and I'm suspicious of those who got along with such professors...

I believe the best way to improve the environment and create positive urban spaces is to make architecture open source, not to make it more elite.

Jan 22, 13 2:18 am

here's a thought - the real question is COMPETENCY - which is why certain states require a certain level of education in addition to the exam.  IMO - the only reason you'd add another layer of access to licensure is if you've had a serious (and disproportionate) problem with architects who had less than a professional degree.  if not, then it's not really about competency and more about a certain group of people looking down upon another group of people - which gets you into lawsuit territory.  You can actually measure the number of people who have had their licenses revoked compared to their level of education - this is the piece of "evidence" we're all missing.  


quite frankly - this is a non-issue unless you can statistically prove that architects with lower levels of education have a higher incidence of license revocation due to incompetency.  otherwise we're all talking out our collective asses.

Jan 22, 13 2:46 am

It was this very ivory tower elitism bullshit that made me switch careers, yes my new field requires a college education too sometimes even a masters degree but they accept people from various backgrounds as long as they get related experience and prove their talent. I used to love architecture up until college. Then the bullshit artistic theoretical crap sank in followed by the bureaucratic crap. If I stayed in architecture I was going to have to get a masters degree since my 4 year BS diploma wasn't seen "professional enough" by architecture professionals. I still like architecture and I'm being inspired by it but the profession is shit.

You don't have to put more barriers for licensure. If I'm kept out of the profession because of my 4 year diploma how do you expect a person with a high school diploma to get a foot in the door? The field is saturated with people with BArch and masters degrees so naturally the employers choose them. The lucky ones who were able to get into the field with a high school diploma will be retiring in a decade or two and I'm sure they were no less talented than the ones with the masters degrees.

Wages is a supply vs demand issue. If you have too many qualified people the wages drop down, people with a high school diploma is such a tiny minority they're not your problem. The problem is the employers who treat employees like slaves. There is no ethics whatsoever. Apparently the 4-5-6 year of formal education hasn't taught them how to treat others like human beings.

We should be doing the opposite. Bring down some barriers and let the people compete in a free market. Allow all people from different backgrounds and if they can pass the ARE let them get licensed.

Jan 22, 13 4:23 am

I'm envious of Kevin's path in the profession. I did good in school & enjoyed it, but looking back I would have done better apprenticing into the profession. I am apprenticing into another profession right now, and love it.

Jan 22, 13 9:41 am


No.  This was my sentiment when I looked at the state handbook to license and saw that high school candidates could do so with more work experience.  I was stunned to learn that.  I didn't know that before, nor would I have imagined it.

One person above said that they were not even seen as employable with a 4 year degree.  That's sad.  I believe that 4 years in an arch. school starts to get one thinking like an architect and that it IS professional enough.  However, you are right.  In a tight market, the 4 year degree holder might be pushed aside in favor of the B.Archs./M.Archs.  The HS grad who DOES find employment, and I've worked along some, say "Yeah, I'm going to take the exam."  Most either never do, or fail it.  This is not surprising when the 1 hour Supplemental Exam in CA, when held as an oral in front of a panel, had about a 50% pass rate. And CA indeed needs some kind of supplemental exam for conditions specific to that state. I knew people who passed the ARE who then had to take that a few extra times.

I think the profession is plagued on various levels:  a) the discord over education and its value, b) the changing internship processes, from flat time to IDP to who knows what, and c) the treatment of employees, shown by articles such as "The Profession that Eats its Young" (by a Princeton prof. in the 90s) and the fact that, since principals were "abused," they are conditioned to "abuse" the incoming crop, creating a never-ending cycle.

There's a LOT to fix.  It's just not the educational process.  Also, for some of us, school WAS the prep course for the A.R.E.  Again, that depends on whether you went to architecture school ... or to art school.

Jan 22, 13 12:14 pm


Now there's another prejudice: suspicion about those who got good grades.  I got good grades, and I didn't kiss anyone's ass.  I went back after working for a handful of years, so I already had to wrangle in the work world.  I had also traveled a lot.  My interactions with design professors involved brainstorming, arguing, defending my point of view but, in the end, coming up with a very finished design.  All of the students with high grades, at least in my group, have gone on to be practitioners ... and quickly.  However, I'm am agreeing that some less than competent, biased, and elitist professors are found teaching design studios.  They are rarely, if ever, found in other parts of the architectural curriculum.

Jan 22, 13 12:28 pm

I went to school, and while it was fun and stimulating, it provided nothing needed for the real world. I know about ten unlicensed, unschooled guys who I have gained more respect for than any Harvard graduate AIA bowtie and suspender guys. They are great designers and overall hands on nuts and bolts types.


As for as an education, license, or experience when looking to get a job in architecture today just learn Revit. Degree or no degree, license or no license, it's all anyone who is hiring today is looking for. Firms need people to teach them how to use the program and to be able to market themselves as bimwits. Just look at all the listings for help needed in NYC. The one thing they al have in common is the BIM factor. I'm old school. Started out drafting by hand for the first 8 years out of school. Since then it has been a game trying to keep up with the latest greatest software at age 48. When did architecture become all about the software you use? When I was in school the only tool envy there was revolved around who had the better electric eraser!

Jan 22, 13 1:48 pm

Good grades do not have much if anything to do with real world competance.

Jan 22, 13 3:10 pm

Block this user

Are you sure you want to block this user and hide all related comments throughout the site?

  • ×Search in: