Would you take ARE exams if you are unemployed?


I have masters in architecture, and bachelor degree in art and architecture and 2 years of experience abroad. After long months of unemployment upon graduation in 2012. I was able to find an internship that paid me 10$ /hr with 1 hour commute from where I live. My salary was paying for the gas and lunch, but I did not complain, as I was desperate to find the job. However, this did not stay for long as I was laid off only 6 months after. The office was not able to get new projects and they had to downsize. I took the LEED GREEN ASSOCIATE EXAM; I am participating in AIA events to increase my chances in finding new job yet still nothing coming in the horizons. I honestly started to feel this industry is dying.
I got to a point where I should spend the plenty of time I have with either finding /taking on other career choices. (I recently started exploring coding and Apps.designs ).
OR, stick to architecture with a faith it will get better?!

I am seeking advice from the professionals and the wise of this industry, do you think I should take A.R.E exams or change my career?

Do you think the market for architects will increase in the next 10 years? If yes, then what kind of skills I need to increase, and which places they will need most??
Thank you.

Nov 6, 13 4:03 pm

one word - yes.  You'll never have a better time to fit them in. 

Nov 6, 13 4:15 pm
The market is saturated with unlicensed graduates. The market is not saturated with young licensed architects. 3-5 years experience with a license is the sweet spot for hiring. If you have the means, knock out the exams with only IDP hours to fill. Best of luck.
Nov 6, 13 4:21 pm

Better option is to get hired by a firm which reimburses. The costs of the exams are absurd, and unemployed folks shouldn't be expected to eat nearly $1,500 so NCARB can keep flying people around to stay in expensive hotels and preach to the choir (the choir in this case is shackled to the pews).

Nov 6, 13 4:27 pm

It might be worth it, but probably not.

As someone had mentioned above, the market is saturated with architectural interns, those that may have an accredit BS or MArch.

Business owners are not stupid, and most firms only have one or two ppl that are licensed and stamp the drawings (usually the principals). I was told directly by my previous boss that 'my licensure was of NO help to him'. This was simply bc he knew that it was an avenue to more pay for me. I wasn't making that much in the first place at $17 an hour.

Licensure is to be thought of as more of a badge than a 'golden key'.

Your license is a backing to your clients that you know what you are doing.

If you have your license and no work experience it will be VERY hard to convince a client that you are the architect for the job. Why, bc there are a ton of other practicing architects WITH experience with incredibly low rates to begin with.

Also, there has definitely been a decline in job offering that want you licensed due to the surplus of architectural interns.

It may make you EVEN less desirable to potential employers.

Nov 6, 13 7:32 pm
J.W. Smith
@DeTwan- though I agree with much of what you said, getting your license is not just about your current job, your current boss or current clients. With the current generations, it is highly unlikely you'll stay at the same job for your whole life. You get your license for YOU. It is personal professional development. There is no telling what the future holds. If you base things on what your current boss says then you'll never get your license. No body wants to be a Cad monkey for life.

Having said that.. OP needs to weigh the cost of the exams and their determination to do ALL of them. No point in doing a few and stopping. Plus despite completing your exams, he will have the ~3+ yrs of IDP before actually becoming licensed.
Nov 6, 13 9:53 pm

It would definitely be worth it if you do it and continue with the path of architecture.

But when you don't have a path it simply could be a worthless endeavor.

And the path in architecture is a blind mole tunnel from hell right now.

Choose your path wisely, sir.

Nov 6, 13 10:22 pm

It all depends on whether you will be continuing in traditional practice or not, and believe the situation in your market, and in general, will improve.

The pros:  you have all the time to prepare and do this, assuming you are able to do so in your jurisdiction (IDP).

The cons:  you may experience being in a funk, which doesn't help matters, and people don't seem to get as much done when they have free time.

I did this while working and CA did not require IDP at the time.  It forced me to budget my time.  All I remember was many nights at coffeehouses, and drinking too much coffee and eating way too many cookies and pastries staring at me from the glass case, making for about a 10 lb. weight gain over 4 months.  Back then, the exam was semi-annual, in December (graphic parts only) and June (all parts).

Nov 7, 13 12:27 pm

I think of it this way, if you start to study for and take the ARE's, something will happen. It will either get you involved and keep you curious and get you further in your career. Or it could help you decide you aren't interested and want to take another road. So I say start, but keep your eyes, ears, and mind open. Keep exploring other things like the coding and app design. 

Nov 7, 13 12:45 pm

In hind sight definitely yes

Nov 7, 13 1:56 pm

very good idea to take them, highly recommend.  if you've never had an arch. job before, going to an interview having already passed even just one test says a hell of a lot about how seriously you take your new career, and demonstrates that you actually have followthrough.  any dimwit can graduate college.

Nov 7, 13 9:21 pm

Ask yourself this: what was the total cost of your professional degree versus that of the ARE exams?  I'm astonished how often I hear folks who paid $60,000 for an undergrad degree complain about $1500 in costs for licensure.  I went to school with people who spent more than that on resin.

Nov 8, 13 11:48 am

Yeah, quit complaining about getting screwed because you should be used it by now.

Nov 8, 13 1:12 pm

Do it. Seriously. Exams have a way of getting pushed to the side as you're working a demanding and time-consuming job. I took all of mine while I was out of architecture doing other things and am very happy with that decision.

Nov 8, 13 4:45 pm

Yup,  take the tests now.  You will be in a much better place employment-wise if you have the tests out of the way prior to beginning employment.  Many architecture jobs require time commitments that make the testing process difficult.

Nov 11, 13 11:28 am

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