Methods for reducing AIA Dues?


I am nearly licensed and am considering membership with the AIA.

I'm more interested in the affilliation with the national AIA and less interested in engaging in or paying for the feeble events, networking and support that my local AIA chapter provides.

Have any of you practicing in high-AIA-dues cities bypassed paying local dues by directly joining through your state AIA or a nearby rural region? Or can you recommend another strategy for reducing dues?

Jul 15, 08 1:08 pm

having your employer pay?

Jul 15, 08 1:12 pm

Good suggestion, but my employer only covers the national dues.

Jul 15, 08 1:14 pm
Ledoux's Eye

Join Archeological Institute of America (AIA). Yearly dues are $50 without the magazine, $66 with a really cool magazine. You will be entitled to put "AIA" after your name.

Jul 15, 08 1:15 pm

Ledoux you're a genius.

I suppose they don't make you do the annual continuing ed credits, either. Though lunchtime archeology seminars would be pretty cool!

Jul 15, 08 1:21 pm

AIA membership cannot be separated out by component ... if you join one, you join all three levels (local, state and national) - and you pay dues accordingly.

My advice ... if you want to be a member, be sure you participate at a level that makes your dues seem more like an investment than a cost.

As with any volunteer organization, you get out of the organization what you are willing to put in. Those who just pay dues and then sit back waiting for huge personal rewards are in for a huge disappointment. Membership has its costs -- but it also has its rewards if you engage.

If you don't like the "feeble events, networking and support that my local AIA chapter provides" I can almost guarantee they'd love to have you join the Programs Committee to help make those events better.

Jul 15, 08 1:24 pm

I'm drawn to the AIA because the public perception confuses it with actual registration. Unfortunately, I feel that AIA after my name rather than just RA is necessary to legitimize my professional standing to the public.

The AIA has weakened the status and role of architects over recent decades (for instance the rewriting of contracts to 'protect' the profession has simultaneously removed power from our hands) at the same time it has managed to bolster its presence in the public eye. After a thoroughly researching what's on offer, I've concluded that it's an organization that serves the established generations of professionals more than it cultivates opportunities or serves the needs for Gen X and Gen Y professionals.

I'm not sure even a high degree of my involvement would make an impact on an organization so rigidified. Otherwise I'd engage it wholeheartedly.

Jul 15, 08 1:40 pm

I understand your point of view ... however, I think you fail to recognize that with the AIA there is no distinction between the AIA and its members ... the organization does what the preponderance of its members steer it to do.

The easiest thing in the world is to criticize the AIA and its [perceived] failure to make every single one of its members just as successful as they want to be, without any real effort on those members' part. It's much harder to engage and contribute your time and expertise to making the AIA better.

I have little respect, and no patience, with architects who stand on the outside, throwing stones against the wall. The AIA is the only meaningful voice of the profession in the US and, as members of the profession, we need to steer the AIA in directions that will improve conditions of practice for us all. You can't do that from the outside.

You mention the changes that have occurred in the contract documents over time ... you may wish to know that the Documents Committee -- which is the entity primarily responsible for developing new editions of the documents -- is comprised almost entirely of volunteer practitioners from all over the country and representing firms of all sizes, who devote endless unpaid hours of their time assessing what changes are needed in order to reflect the practice conditions present at any particular time. Again, these are the members making these changes.

I think you miss the point entirely .. but it's a free country and you are free to make whatever choices you want. But, of course, I note that you still want the legitimacy that having AIA behind your name bestows.

Jul 15, 08 2:02 pm

For where I live the AIA is not an option. It would be a full day trip for a one hour lunch program.

Depending on where you live the Association of Licensed Architects. is an option.

Dues run about $85 per year.

The ALA gives me a title at the end of my name, but I still prefer using the R.A.

Jul 15, 08 2:04 pm

quizzical - you make alot of good points. thanks for your thoughts.

I think if time were infinite and it didn't seem like such an uphill battle, I would relish the task of working to improve the only organization that represents our beloved profession. Maybe at another point in my career I'll have the bandwidth to participate.

The AIA definitely needs the voice of the younger generations of professionals - who could more effectively address everything from alternate business models for architectural practice and leveraging emergent technologies to the crisis of decreasing wages and the growing IDP/ARE complexity.

Jul 15, 08 2:31 pm

For the past 15 years, AIA has benefited greatly from the work of a VERY active internal group - the Young Architects Forum - which represents quite well the viewpoint of the "younger generation of professionals" -- I believe YAF actually holds a seat on the National Board and they exercise their voice quite effectively.

Jul 15, 08 2:39 pm

Now that I think about it, YAF probably is not represented on the National AIA Board ... YAF is a bit more closely aligned with the College of Fellows, the thinking being that "young architects, like many young professionals, need mentors" -- and what better place to find successful mentors than among the Fellows.

However, the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) does have a permanent spot on the National AIA Board ... that position is filled each year by the national president of AIAS. I've been around these guys over the years and they're very effective advocates for issues important to architecture students and recent graduates.

Jul 15, 08 6:20 pm

buy some power tools

Jul 15, 08 6:29 pm
brian buchalski

i'm a fan of the AIA...unfortunately i'm not anywhere near a chapter

Jul 15, 08 7:57 pm

I've reduced my AIA dues to Zero.
(With all due respect)

Jul 15, 08 9:01 pm
liberty bell

I'm active in my local AIA as chair of the Women in Architecture Committee. Since I don't personally feel there are many issues left in architecture specific to women <shields face awaiting flaming...> we have tried to turn it into a mentorship-building committee.

In fact, we are currently arranging a get-together for interns - including non-AIA members, as they can't be full members until they are registered - to get their perspective on what kind of mentorship experience would be helpful to them. I and my similarly-aged colleagues (40 and up) are very aware of the "generational gap" when it comes to office communication. it is important for both sides of the intern experience - interns and employers - to understand how generational misunderstanding is affecting success on both sides.

So, young architects and architects-to-be, there are indeed people in the old fart AIA club interested in you. Joining and being active will help you find those people.

Jul 15, 08 9:37 pm
The AIA definitely needs the voice of the younger generations of professionals

sorry to be so blunt, but if you truly believe that then you should quit bitching and get involved...

i used to feel much like you do... then about 5 years ago i got involved and founded our local emerging architects group along with 3-4 good friends... in the time since we've helped put together 2 statewide conferences for emerging professionals and essentially forced our local and state chapters to recognize the importance of the younger generation...

Jul 16, 08 12:35 am

architephil - that's amazing.

Your story is encouraging. Power in numbers makes getting involved more palatable and change seem more feasible.

Our local AIA chapter resembles the smug and mediocre nature of the corporate firm where I presently work. Doing it your way, I can visualize a handful of my cohorts and I could likely make an impact with the AIA, which would prove rather satisfying. If only the youth impact strategy could work at this big bad corporate firm...

Jul 16, 08 3:49 pm

word on the street is that

aia is more for white folks
moma is more for the minorities

if thats true..... that really messed up.....

are there secret hand shakes?..... lazzer shows?...... carmel apple rides?...


Jul 16, 08 3:55 pm

The national, state, and local dues are linked together, so no way really to join just one and not the others.

One way to pay a little less is to join through a place that doesn't have separate state and local chapters. But you can't just randomly pick a different state - you have to actually have an address there and are supposed to be living and/or practicing there.
We were able to do that in our office because we do work in two states and maintain a mailing address in both. In one of the states it would cost close to $900 per person because of local dues and higher state dues. In the other state it is a few hundred less. So if you're in a similar situation geographically and in terms of where you practice then look into which state/city has lower dues!

It used to be the case - and I'm not clear on whether it still is - that if a firm wants to join the AIA at the firm level (i.e. have the firm's name listed in the local directory and such, instead of just the individual principals' names) then all licensed architects in the firm had to be members, and that if any weren't then the firm had to pay a different fee that was in effect a penalty for having each non-member architect on staff. The penalty was in some cases more than the dues for each of the employees would have been in the first place, (which is one of the main reasons that firms frequently pay employees' dues as part of the employee's "benefit" package!) The logic was that those employees were benefitting from the firm's membership and using AIA resources indirectly by working in the firm.
Somebody mentioned in another thread recently that he thought the AIA had recently voted to do away with this penalty policy. If that's the case I could see some firms discontinuing the policy of paying employees' dues.

Jul 17, 08 10:46 am

Firms don't join the AIA ... individual architects join. It is true the AIA has charged member principals in firms "supplemental dues" for any licensed architects who are not members of the Institute -- in 2008, those dues were $252 per licensed, non-member architect. In our area, total combined local, state and national dues for a member were nearly 3 times that amount.

While I do believe AIA is in the process of abandoning supplemental dues, the initial logic behind supplemental dues was that all licensed architects - whether members or not - benefited from the advocacy, research, training and contract documents made available through AIA. For a while, some members felt it unfair for a firm with say 15 licensed architects to only sign up one, gaining access to all the benefits for all 15 for a single membership fee. The logic of that is arguable and has been hotly debated for years -- I think the AIA understands this to be an unpopular way to finance the activities of the Institute and is now going another direction.

Jul 17, 08 11:59 am

Some local chapters have "individual memberships" and "firm memberships". In the more expensive of the two states we looked at joining the chapter will not list the name of a firm in the online firm directory unless the firm joins at the firm level.

Jul 17, 08 12:18 pm

and I should have clarified that I meant that the penalty - er, I mean the "supplemental dues" for having a non-member architect in the firm can be more than the national dues - not more than the total of local+state+national.

National dues are currently $238.
Of the two state we looked at one had additional state+local dues of a little over $600.
The other has no local dues, and state dues that range from $70 to $150 depending on how long one has been a member.

Jul 17, 08 12:33 pm
won and done williams

sellout, i find your reasons for wanting to join the aia perplexing. i don't think the "general public" really gives a flip if you are an aia member or not. perhaps if you were starting your own practice, the label may be useful to show your professional affiliation.

on the other hand, where i have seen discrimination against registered architects not being affiliated with the aia is in large firms (which it sounds like you are a part of one). i worked in one office where it was pretty clear architects were not being promoted because they were not engaged with their local aia chapter. (it was no coincidence that the chapter president was also a higher up in the office management.)

if you don't want to get involved with the aia, don't. career-wise i'm in a similar position as you and until i find a personal professional reason to get involved (of which i realize there are many), i'll save my money for other things.

Jul 18, 08 4:19 pm

Now that layoffs are a reality, and architects in the AIA will certainly feel the pinch, what is the AIA planning to do about the fees and the subsequent penalties that will come if unemployed members are no longer able to continue paying those dues. It has come to my attention that if I stop paying my membership, I will have to pay for back years. If this economic slump continues, the longer I am out, the less of incentive I have to get back in th organization.

Sound off if you're in the AIA and are concerned by this action or non-action.

Nov 14, 08 1:31 pm

I'm fortunate enough (as of today, at least) to still be employed with a firm that pays AIA dues for its associates and above. That's *cough* $728. In the midst of many layoffs, I was praying to hang on long enough to get this benefit before the end of the year. So far, so good.

That said, I'd already decided that I'd re-up with the AIA on my own if I got laid off---at least for next year. If I'm going to be on the job market, I want every competitive advantage I can muster. Seven hundred bucks is steep, but, as others have said, it buys some instant credibility.

Nov 14, 08 2:53 pm

i won't debate the merits, and that's not what this is about, but the AIA could, could, identify those recently unemployed due to market influences beyond our control, and institute some kind of delayed billing, or payment plan that would not destroy the remainder of our sanity. it's only human or am i expecting too much?

Nov 14, 08 3:45 pm

why do you just want AIA after your name? ... who is this "general public" you speak of? unless you're out there getting clients, it doesn't make much sense.

Nov 14, 08 5:40 pm

The "general public" we're talking about are potential clients who aren't experienced developers, and consequently don't know the difference between professional registration and a professional organization.

Some know the difference between ", Architect" and ",AIA", but many more don't. In the common case that you don't have the opportunity to explain the difference to a potential client (who may be searching the web or the phone book, having ",AIA" after your name covers all bases.

Merits of AIA services aside, mere membership buys a measure of instant credibility to a world of potential clients unschooled in the particulars of architectural practice.

Nov 14, 08 6:38 pm

i had to pay union dues when i was a bagger at farmer jacks... i was making 5.35 an hour in '94.....

case in point

Nov 14, 08 7:33 pm

One other comment not mentioned:

The AIA still retains a positive point of reference within the general public. At one time the AMA (American Medical Association) held a similar hold within the general public. That said, if I were a client torn between two architects and one was an AIA member, I would in all sincerity turn to the AIA member. The reason? The AIA filters out most, not all, but most members caught in legal entanglements where a matter of professionally ethics was compromised. My father, an architect starting his sole proprietorship sixty years ago, would say "Membership in the AIA is a 'clean bill of health' signifying a professional somewhat worthy of trust." 

Oct 23, 18 2:33 pm

That was probably true 60 years ago. Nowadays anybody who pays their dues is all good with the AIA, regardless of their behavior. Some of the most unscrupulous architects in my community are AIA Fellows or officers in the local chapter.


Women are the reason the AIA is successful now. It has given them a voice in a profession that had completely sidestepped them.

Oct 23, 18 9:19 pm

As an inactive (I think) Associate member of the AIA, membership renewal haven't been exactly a priority. Here's why? The benefits of these "local" events are 100 miles away which would be kind of an inconvenience to attend to benefit from it. If events were distributed throughout the areas served. If I renewed membership with AIA and the AIBD (beyond the CPBD certification), I would be willing to A) form an AIBD local chapter but also consider joint local AIBD and local AIA activities. There is no reason other than politics (wait... that would be more an excuse than a reason to me) why it can't happen if such materialized. 

Oct 24, 18 12:43 am

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