Why all the "hold out" on licensing?


Maybe another "controversial" topic.  Who knows.  For people who earn accredited degrees (B.Arch. or M.Arch.) and have done nothing BUT work in an architectural firm, why do some who completed these courses of study successfully, and could pass the ARE based on their work, choose not to license?  I'm talking about people who have worked 10+ years ... exclusively in architecture.  I went for it quickly because, if you don't license, you can't call yourself an architect (though people STILL do anyway in casual conversation) and I wanted it behind me as quickly as possible.  I guess that, unless someone is in an environment where stamping drawings is pushed down the ranks, I don't understand the procrastination. 

Apr 8, 13 5:59 pm


Apr 8, 13 7:17 pm


Ego in that the licensing process is beneath them because they are a design star?

Ego in that the licensing process early on shows one is egotistical?

I'm not following.  If one wants to be an architect, they have to do it sooner or later.  It's no fun curling up with your ARE books in Starbucks at night for months.   BTDT.

Apr 8, 13 8:14 pm

true, it's no fun studying.  after a full day's work, it takes a lot of motivation to hunker down and study the stuff..not real fun.  and i don't think most people really see value in it unless they are trying to get their own projects/start up an office.

Apr 8, 13 8:29 pm
You could easily go your whole career without stamping a drawing. In many firms, only senior ownership will stamp drawings. Which is nice, really; you can switch jobs and make a clean break, because if your project has a lawsuit after you leave, your name's not on it.
Apr 8, 13 8:40 pm

^ and ^^

True and true.  However, some people become architects and run projects for the duration, either never becoming a principal because of no desire or management did not peg them as principal material.  That way, they get to be an architect, use the title, get a decent enough income, and not deal with the hassles of ownership.

One of my really good friends left a firm that had a policy of pushing down the stamping to project architect level, given that these project manager types were licensed.  If you don't get the perks of the name on the door and the position of principal, then you shouldn't be stamping drawings.  Any firm that pushes that responsibility down to non-owners is a firm NOT to work for.

Apr 8, 13 8:52 pm

never becoming a principal because ....

because most firms don't have that as an option?  of course some do, but then i think for a lot of people it's quite obvious there is no or very little reward for going through the trouble.

Apr 8, 13 8:55 pm

curt, correct ... why go through it ... but many still license, nonetheless, and continue in the employ of firms.

Apr 8, 13 10:06 pm

Im trying my best to get licensed, not so i can be called an architect so much, but so i can have more opportunities. In my mind a license is something that helps a person pull away from the crowd, and start to move to the forefront. Unfortunately for me im juggling studying for the license - Failed my first exam :( , being a husband, being a father (3 children), learning revit (seems like everyone wants at least a year of revit skill set), working a 40 hour work week, a few volunteering groups, trying to keep my sanity!

Apr 9, 13 12:49 pm

I'd agree that you shouldn't stamp without having an ownership stake, but your firm's liability insurance goes while marketability and billable rates go up for having another licensed arch on staff. So there is still value to it.

Apr 9, 13 11:34 pm

I did not do it yet, because I spent my time working on many intense, yet fun projects and traveling around the world (for said projects) - and of course bringing home the bacon...

Apr 9, 13 11:43 pm

in the end, none of it matters if you can't design meaningful architecture and can see it from a napkin sketch to a built work.  I'd rather be a self-taught architect like Ando, than someone with all these fancy degrees and designations but creates work no better than an undergrad

Apr 10, 13 12:34 am

I have one left that hopefully i will take in the next month or so.  The only reason i am really doing it is that its something good for the resume and something to check off and be done with, not because i ever expect to be stamping drawings any time soon.  And with one kid at home and another one the way, its much much easier to get it done now, have it and not use it, than to try to get it later if i ever needed it


Anyone that thinks having your license really makes a difference at all about your actual work skills is kidding themselves.  But then again, you can say the same thing about an architectural degree as well, yet most of us have that also.

Apr 10, 13 12:20 pm

A couple of things:

- I'm all about getting it out of the way - I couldn't believe how nice it was to have weekends freed up after I finished it - sometimes, there's a nasty oral exam on the heels of it in some states

- True, it doesn't matter if you're not stamping, however

- You can't call yourself an architect without it, and who wants the potential hassle of having held oneself out to be an architect, and it does make the firm look better and more credible if they have more licensed types on staff - I've known of one real backward "alumni club" type office where he didn't want that much of his staff licensed - he just wanted job captains in perpetuity.

For me, getting it out of the way dominated the decision, especially since I did the M.Arch. with a work time gap before going back to school.

Apr 10, 13 12:34 pm

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