What's the deal with all the bitching and moaning about these organizations? Do you hear doctors and lawyers bitching and moaning about their accreditation boards and professional organizations? Okay, maybe. But seriously, for all the negative aspects I have heard on this forum about the above organizations, can anyone provide a few positive aspects?

Dec 20, 13 2:49 pm
I actually think that NCARB has cleaned up their act, at least things are on the computer now, instead of lost in a file cabinet and customer service actually works (as compared to when you couldn't even reach them). They also have made it easier to take the exam, I'm jealous of the young people who now get to start testing before finishing IDP for example. The 6 month rule is stupid though.

AIA on the other hand, they just hand out awards.
Dec 20, 13 2:58 pm

NCARB used to be very opaque and Kafkaesque.  Internet does seem to have helped things a lot.

Dec 20, 13 3:50 pm

yo handsum - "wanna cook" haha just kidding; but when you mentioned "kafkaesque" I couldn't resist thinking back to a few days ago when I finished watching that episode from Breaking Bad.

Dec 20, 13 3:56 pm

AIA - like any volunteer organization the world over - does nothing more than represent the collective wishes of its dues paying members. If you're not a dues paying member, I can't see that you have any real basis for complaint. If you are a dues paying member, then you are wholly entitled to lobby internally for changes that you think might be desirable. AIA always is looking for members who wish to exercise their leadership skills.

The AIA currently is engaged in a fairly rigorous process of "re-positioning" itself to become a more effective organization - the aims of this effort are to:

(1) Elevate public awareness

(2) Advocate for the profession

(3) Create and expand the sharing of knowledge and expertise to ensure a prosperous future for our members

For anybody interested in that effort, you can find more information here:

Dec 20, 13 4:19 pm
I am a dues paying member. I am way too busy trying to make a living wage to agitate my trade organization to actually do their jobs and work TO HELP US MAKE MORE MONEY! Those other things are supposedly what they've been doing all along, with little effect.
Dec 20, 13 4:32 pm

I kinda agree w gruen.  Aren't those things that the AIA has been doing for years?  Doesn't sound like much of a "re-positioning" at all.

I don't know, if I were tha AIA I'd probably focus on throwing parties. Teh kind that politicians and  developers want to photographed at.  If you can get Kenya West (or even some of his lesser homies to show up) that might create some buzz.   And that mitght lead to some more monies too.

Dec 20, 13 4:44 pm

"Elevate....Advocate.....Create and Expand" No touchy-feely happy BS nonsense there!

Dec 20, 13 6:07 pm

I agree with Gruen, Seems like the AIA is only about handing out awards.  I worked with my firm to create an outreach program and so I went to a lot of AIA meetings but they really weren't too beneficial, just committee joy. The funding came mostly from donations outside of the AIA.  Renewing my membership this spring - nope.  I'll miss Architect Magazine though.    I believe the re-positioning when I see it.  Also NCARB,   

Dec 20, 13 7:00 pm
I agree with stone, and say this as a member and volunteer Executive Board member of my local AIA chapter (not a job, gruen. Volunteer service). We, and all chapters, are *always* happy to have vocal, involved members who want to work on whatever their passion vis a vis the profession is. The problem is if you want to complain but not *do* anything about it then the Board and other members are necessarily going to take your opinion into account but then put their own limited volunteer hours into the things they personally choose to focus on (within the scope of AIA activities, of course).

The Repositioning process truly is, IMO, an attempt to address the things members have wants for years. If anyone has suggestions for how to advocate etc, make your ides known.
Dec 20, 13 8:28 pm

You guys are priceless !  You don't want to pay much (if anything) in the way of dues and you expect the AIA to solve all your problems in exchange for the little you do pay.

Let's look at some rough comparables:

American Bar Association:
. 410,000 members
. Annual National Dues (full member) - about $400

American Institute of Certified Public Accountants:
. 394,000 members
. Annual National Dues (full member) - $415

American Medical Association:
. 215,854 members
. Annual National Dues (full member) - $420

American Institute of Architects:
. 83,500 members
. Annual National Dues (full member) - $251

Do the math ... the ABA's dues revenue is about 9 times larger than dues revenue generated by AIA.  Maybe you'll want to consider adjusting your expectations after thinking about the comparison for a bit!

NOTE: before anybody jumps on me about omitting local and state dues, those vary considerably by state and by organization. For that reason, I have looked here only at national dues. All of the other associations also charge additional dues for additional participation levels, but one cannot easily get a handle on those for comparison purposes.

Dec 20, 13 8:37 pm

Well the ABA hasn't done jack for their members either. Students are graduating from Ivy League law schools with $200,000 of debt and no prospects for a job. They are marginally better off than architecture graduates as they can take the state bar exam as soon as they graduate and hang out their solo shingle. And starve that way.

Dec 20, 13 9:58 pm

I'm sorry -- how is it even remotely the responsibility of any professional association to ensure that student's don't take on too much debt ?  Professional associations are neither your parents nor your nanny.

The ABA is not responsible for policing, much less preventing, stupidity.

Gimme a break !

Dec 20, 13 10:12 pm

The ABA gives certification to law schools. Fewer law schools, fewer graduates looking for the diminishing number of law openings being created each year. Not really too hard a concept to grasp, is it?. The ABA has been no more upfront with the dismal job prospects of the legal profession than the AIA has been with the architectural profession. If the truth were told by either organization there would be wholesale loss of teaching jobs by faculty members as well as school closures. The faculty members and deans are very highly paid members of their respective "professional" organizations and will do anything to keep their gravy trains rolling.

Dec 20, 13 11:03 pm

Those are, I think, decisions made by the schools - not by the profession. The profession has no real incentive (and every disincentive) to keep expanding the number of practitioners. Over supply negatively impacts everybody's economics. The schools don't really care if they contribute to oversupply.

Even so, professional associations do not control access to employment data - if a student in any profession REALLY wants to understand job prospects in that profession, the data is available. The truth is that most students never really think about this information until close to the time of graduation.

Dec 20, 13 11:55 pm

"Professional associations do not control access to employment data" Apparently the AIA does not even access the data itself, never mind controlling access to it. How can a professional organization exist that is ostensibly concerned with the health of the profession but not concerned with the economic health of it's members? Both the ABA and AIA rate an epic fail.

Dec 21, 13 8:58 am

You know, I was kind of joking abou tthrowing parties.  But that actually might not be a bad idea. 

Architects, as a profession, have vastly more soft power at their disposal that accountants or lawyers but cannot, obviously, compete directly on a dollar basis on capital hill.

Instead of giving out awards (which are basically just boring parties anyway) focusing on using the architecture to throw better parties.  Use the cool spaces, selective invites to creat some buzz.  Get the champagne flowing,  add a little white lady appetizer and then when the moneyed folks start talking foolishly have cameras ready (or maybe even contracts) to capture them on the record.  The issue isn't getting AIA to work fro you but getting blackmail to work for you. 

Dec 21, 13 10:42 am
Really, the AIA dropped the ball when I was still in grade school. Subsequently, it's been easier to do awards, glossy magazines and parties than address the decline of the profession. Now that I'm approaching the middle of my career and finally reaching the point where I'm old enough that people will listen, I doubt that my opinion would carry much traction with the AIA, but Donna, I will go down to the AIA in down Providence next week after the holiday and volunteer to talk to the national folks about what we can all do to increase pay for architects at all levels including unemployed young people, folks in the trenches and firm owners. Unfortunately, I don't think they want to hear it, because it involves some tough decisions and fights. I received my email to renew my membership, I will be renewing.
Dec 21, 13 6:44 pm
Really, the AIA dropped the ball when I was still in grade school. Subsequently, it's been easier to do awards, glossy magazines and parties than address the decline of the profession. Now that I'm approaching the middle of my career and finally reaching the point where I'm old enough that people will listen, I doubt that my opinion would carry much traction with the AIA, but Donna, I will go down to the AIA in down Providence next week after the holiday and volunteer to talk to the national folks about what we can all do to increase pay for architects at all levels including unemployed young people, folks in the trenches and firm owners. Unfortunately, I don't think they want to hear it, because it involves some tough decisions and fights. I received my email to renew my membership, I will be renewing.
Dec 21, 13 6:44 pm

gruen - I applaud your change of heart and wish you well in your efforts to improve compensation levels within the profession. You are correct - that challenge will be daunting and I hope you have both an open mind and patience for a long slog. As with so many things surrounding the profession, problems of that nature didn't arise over night and they won't be solved instantaneously. 

As for your statement "I don't think they want to hear it, because it involves some tough decisions and fights." I will mention that you are not the first member who has raised this issue about compensation -- and, as I suspect you already know, you likely will be faced almost immediately with legitimate anti-trust considerations that arise from the original 1972 'consent decree' (and subsequent 1990 'consent decree') forced down our throats by the Justice Department. The culture of the National Component is permeated by that constraint -- which constraint is primarily where the resistance you anticipate comes from.

Many have argued that AIA should have challenged the Justice Department's anti-trust accusations and fought the consent decrees more vigorously. However, having knocked around AIA for many years, I've heard enough war stories to believe the economics shared above in stone's comparative post accurately reflect why we were unable to mount an effective challenge -- we simply didn't have the money available to do so.

Nevertheless -- good luck in this quest. You'll be a hero if you can make improvements.

Dec 21, 13 9:00 pm
Quiz, you took the words out of my mouth. And, I agree, the AIA does not have the resources to fight the battle. Yet, no creative solutions have been attempted either. I doubt I will make a difference but I am capable of complaining :)
Dec 21, 13 10:54 pm

Since I started this thread, let me add on to the the last few comments...

I am not going to state the obvious about what we do as architects. But to elaborate on this idea, as architects we contribute cultural capital. I think the profession has reduced our practice to a commodity rather than a heritage. When everything is made out of GWB and acoustic tile, how are we as architects supposed to perceive our work as anything more than a commodity that can be demo'd every other year? In the past, we haven't seen so much change happen so quickly. The cathedrals have been around for hundreds of years; the pyramids for even longer.... I don't see how our current profession provides for a sense of permanence in the minds of a public that is constantly evolving with ever more advanced technological capability.

Dec 21, 13 11:17 pm

The AIA needs to help us make more money so we can actually live.  The first place to start is cracking down on all the unpaid positions and finding what the real dollar value of our work is.  This will ripple upwards to every level and everyone would get paid more.  Unfortunately its illegal for the AIA to assign dollar values to anything (like fees) because its considered price fixing.  Honestly, we just need a labor union.  They exist in engineering, they should exist in architecture.  At the very least, a crack down on unpaid "internships" by holding licensed professionals responsible for obeying labor and employment laws could fix this.

In the end though, any profession where people say stuff like "I love this so much I'd do it for free" is going to have compensation problems.  you artsy people are screwing us over.

Dec 22, 13 10:54 am

Somebody's going to have to help me understand how the AIA can do more than it already does to "help us make more money" because I've been heavily involved in the profession for a very long time and I just don't understand why such expectations are realistic.  To me, large parts of this discussion sound like some participants are simply looking for the proverbial "Easy Button".

The AIA's focus is - and always has been - developing and distributing tools (i.e. the Contract Documents) and knowledge (i.e. the various Conventions and tons of year-round continuing ed) designed to assist practitioners in their work and their careers. On balance, over the course of my career, I've found this stuff to be pretty useful to me in my firm and in my career -- but, to be fair, I've also spent a lot of time drinking from the AIA fountain.

At the end of the day, we all are responsible for our own practice and our own career. The AIA can help us by providing information, tools and knowledge -- but it's up to each of us to grab hold of that that stuff and do something worthwhile with it. 

Dec 22, 13 9:00 pm



""It's a thing in the rules . . . that you never discuss fees," Jacobsen said matter-of-factly. "If you interview us, select us for our ability, our experience or our necktie, but never talk about fees. Don't come in and have us tell you our design philosophy and then ask us our fee.

"Of the men and women whose work I admire, we'll never do it," he said of the practice of quoting fees for a building when there is a competition for architects.

("I don't respond to a client who asks me to match a competitor's price," said Patrick J. Killen, principal of the Los Angeles firm Architrave and a director of the Cabrillo chapter of the AIA. "It comes down to a question of ego: People should be coming to me for all the right reasons--that I'm the man for the job, and not that I can shave 2% off the price."

("You don't go to a doctor and say, 'Give me a price on an appendectomy,' " agreed Gaio of Los Angeles chapter.)"


Oh how the mighty have fallen. Now the same people who said we were too good for that kind of behavior slash each others figurative tires so the other guy doesn't make it to the interview.

Dec 23, 13 9:01 am

stone, maybe part of that 'education' could include a bit of practical practice management, in the form of at least some kind of encouragement to not compete on price alone, and not to continue to push the bar lower.  having someone who  sells ceiling tile try to sell their ceiling tile under the guise of aia continuing education is great.  i like that those are available, since i need continuing ed to keep my license.  however, what the aia is doing doesn't really address the problems our profession faces.

you think people here are asking for an easy button?  it sounds to me like these people would prefer to see the aia do something instead of nothing.  i don't equate 'do something useful to address the problems our profession faces' with 'easy button.'

Dec 23, 13 9:31 am

In other professions it is considered unethical to undercut fees. I think architects could raise their fees just by raising their ethics.

Dec 23, 13 9:41 am
AIA distributes opaque, confusing documents that "protect" us by miring us in legal gook. Oh, and these docs make money for the AIA, with the AIA members paying for it.

Stone, the AIA could have a different focus.

I don't want an easy path. I want the AIA to fight for the profession, lobbying, compiling and releasing data and tools to help my business, helping us operate as a bargaining block, solidifying our perception and need, helping young people get jobs, helping people in the middle learn the skills and steps to get ahead, helping firm owners with marketing and pricing, help with enforcing the law for unlicensed practice and improper permitting.
Dec 23, 13 11:37 am

curt / tint: while I understand and respect what you have written, I think you fail to adequately consider the very real macro-economic trend that dominates modern day professional practice. Any way you look at it, there are significantly more design professionals out there than are needed to satisfy the weak demand for design services - plus, there are substantial numbers of non-architects trying to poach on our traditional territory. Were the AIA to attempt a reduction in the supply of architects, we'd be in even deeper 'restraint of trade' hot water than we're in now.

Given these circumstances, firms do what they have to do in order to survive - whether they want to reduce fees or not. It's that, or go out of business. There's always some other firm - probably a firm with zero affiliation with AIA - willing to take the work at an even lower fee (and substantially lower quality). 

Also, when I raised the 'easy button' analogy, what I was attempting to convey is what I have found to be a widespread attitude among too many architects -- that attitude seems to be "I"m not successful and it's because the AIA isn't doing its job".  I, for one, categorically reject that notion.

Due to resource constraints, the AIA has extraordinarily limited authority and reach. As I wrote earlier, AIA can do little more than lobby (to the extent practical, given its very limited resource base) and provide tools and knowledge and strategies to assist practitioners. The rest is up to the individual practitioner. 

In the long run, firms that are truly successful will be able to clearly demonstrate the ability to deliver outstanding value to their clients, without resorting to protectionist activities by their professional association. Firms that can't (or won't) do that will wither - and the AIA won't be able to do anything about it, now matter how much we wish otherwise.

Dec 23, 13 11:54 am

It's not true that other profession don't undercut on fees. Every store offers to beat their competitors' sale prices, dentists offer new patient specials, plastic surgeons are on Groupon, and of course contractors submit bids; contractors for the most part only compete on price.

An easy fix totally doesn't exist.  Period.  Members and non-members have been asking the AIA to elevate the standing of our profession (as a way to allow us to bolster our fees) for decades: there is no easy way to do it. If anyone has an easy idea, please contact your local chapter.

Also, gruen: if you think the AIA contract docs leave you mired in legal gook, wait til you try signing the contract your developer wants to use. You'll be swimming naked in the raw sewage of clauses and sub-clauses that all leave all responsibility on you.

Dec 23, 13 12:13 pm

No one mentions the real problem that is Idp.  If firms didn't have the advantage of the cheap labor that Idp provides they would not be as flexible with price.  The system provides the biggest users and creeps an advantage while those that pay fair are at a handicap since they have a greater overhead. The system is broken at the bottom and this is a large part of the problem.  If you create an advantage for jerks then dont be surprised when they do other jerk things to their advantage. Idp alone cannot be blamed for the entire decline of the profession, but it is a huge part of it IMO.  The other big problem is the lack of architectural culture in American society.  After all, if the client dosent value architecture they wont be inclined to pay for it duh. I firmly believe that some architecture and design should be taught as part of the high-school art curriculum.    

Dec 23, 13 12:17 pm

Basically, you can't force relevance.  If you want to increase the value of the profession then do it from within and stop looking for external support from the state.  The state does not care about or understand architecture, and the self imposed regulations are not helping the profession as a whole, they only help those that serve a plate of crap with a side of stamp.  The system is protecting the least fit and reducing the gene pool. It is a safe guard against natural selection and as we all learned in evolutionary bio 101- if you can't adapt to a changing environment you go extinct.  

Dec 23, 13 12:32 pm

How do you increase relevance when the majority of the profession is not doing architecture. Building design is not architecture. People will not value a profession that offers (for the most part) competent good enough buildings.  Greatness on the other hand.... Like I have said before (and many will disagree,) the title architect should be only granted to those (in an informal way) to those that do architecture.  Increase smart regulation on the actual architecture (the game)in the form of higher quality standards (environmental,etc) and remove all regulation on the players.  Reduce liability, increase fitness through competition, force knowledge and competence rather than title and beurocratic bs. 

Dec 23, 13 12:42 pm

If we call every licensed cook a chef then the title is reduced to nothing more than a license to cook.  The value of the title chef will be diluted in the sea of Mac and cheese.  The actual value and the public perception of the value will be diluted by the lowest common denominator.  Of course in the culinary world this is not the case and so people are more than willing to pay for a great meal prepared by a chef.  

Dec 23, 13 12:58 pm

I'm sorry, but I don't quite get this persistent desire to come on Archinect and castigate the institutions that organize the profession of architecture - it's as though the accusers don't have even a basic understanding of the institutions in question. It seems that some feel these institutions are run by poorly informed and evil outsiders who haven't a clue about the issues at hand, much less the possible solutions.

Do you not realize that NCARB is governed by a Board that is almost entirely licensed architects? Do you not know that all State Boards of Architects are composed almost entirely of licensed architects. Do you not realize that NAAB is governed by a Board that is almost entirely  licensed architects? And, for certain, the vast majority of people who do any work for AIA are graduate architects - people just like you and me.

During my career, I've had the privilege of knowing many individuals who volunteer tons of personal time to serve on these boards and/or committees. Invariable, they're neither more prosperous. nor less prosperous, than those who don't volunteer. Invariably, they're neither more motivated, nor less motivated, than your average architect to do what is right. Invariably, they do recognize the weaknesses in the institutions they serve and do what they can to make improvements. Certainly, they're neither a bunch of wild-eyed radicals nor knuckle-dragging conservatives aiming to enact some extremist agenda. Primarily, they are just a bunch of regular design professionals who have chosen to raise their hand and try to make a difference in the profession they love.

It may be satisfying to vent about these institutions here on Archinect, but if you really want to effect change, you've got to participate meaningfully in the institutions that shape our profession. You can't just bitch from afar, because that's not going to produce any positive results.

Dec 23, 13 2:07 pm

regarding basic understandings; if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

so, i gave an example.  instead of aia having a product manufacturer provide continuing ed credits, let's get some good firm management seminars for ceu credit.  that's a good idea.  i can't teach firm management, or how to compete without lowering your fee, because noone ever taught me.  i might also lack credibility among some people sometimes.

my aia chapter doesn't seem to have much for committees, except a committee who chooses who to give awards to, and where to have the party where it is handed out.  (there is also young architects, which i might be too old for, and women in design, which i'm too masculine for)  that essentially makes the aia a 'good ole boy's' club of people patting each other on the back.  i've heard people talk about aia chapters where there might be a committee that talks about stuff and then is able to actually do something that somehow improves something.  having said that, the administrative staff at my local aia does a very good job of organizing what does get organized, and they are very nice people.  i don't want to sound too hard on them.

so the solution is either for me to take on this problem by myself, since the aia that i've seen has no interest in addressing the concerns people on this forum talk about, or give them hundreds of dollars so someone might pretend to listen to me for a little while.  maybe they'll pat me on the back and give me an award?  joining the aia doesn't seem to be a viable option towards making a difference in the profession.

also ncarb costs way too much for the service it provides.  seriously, they make money for the test from the test.  hundreds of dollars a year to sit on a file?  that's just not necessary.

Dec 23, 13 3:28 pm

Stone, I understand your position, and I agree that these organizations are comprised of good people for the most part.  It's not the way the institutions are run, but rather the very existence of them that is the issue.  I have a problem with the overall idea of the institutional organization of architecture or any field of art and science. I do not believe that institutionalization and human regulation is beneficial to anyone. I am for a return to architecture as a decentralized profession that is inclusive and relies on a system of apprenticeship and informally earned title.  I do think that stricter regulation on the actual built environment would be beneficial, but you can't ensure quality by regulating the players, instead regulate the game.  Make the knowledge, talent, and experience indispensable and allow anyone capable of playing play.  My position comes from a place of respect and humility not arrogance and entitlement.  To improve the built environment and the value of the dicipline we need to advocate for a better quality environment, by doing so we will elevate the value of the people capable of meeting or exceeding such a standard.  Builders will not be able to achieve this.  Fools will not be able to achieve this.  The value will be in the ability to do something that no one else can do.  Mandate a certain performance of buildings based on science, sustainability, etc.  whatever factors make sense.  If we did this the ball would then be in out court to raise price because the client simply would not be able to find a way around hiring someone who can achieve a certain quality standard.  Its basic.  

Dec 23, 13 3:53 pm

I agree that NCARB fees are out of whack with what service they offer.

curtkram, does your local chapter have a PR committee or a contract with a PR firm? We are strongly encouraged to write opinion pieces related to development issues in our city, all handled through our PR firm.  Surprisingly, the local newspaper really is read by a lot of people, so we reach a broad audience - often of older, more established people who actually have the means to participate in building projects - by writing opinion pieces, and the paper is hungry for thoughtful commentary.

Dec 23, 13 3:56 pm

People can find ways around a required stamp for a basic competent building (that an engineer, contractor, etc) can achieve,  they cannot find ways around necessary expertise and knowledge.  

Dec 23, 13 3:57 pm

Why is it that it that people always think that they can be architects, but rarely say they can be doctors? I don't see anyone thinking they can operate on themselves... I don't see people saying they can build a bridge... Architecture seems to be one of those professions where people can relate to on a level that transcends formal education. People just don't take architecture seriously. Why?

Dec 23, 13 4:37 pm

donna, i have no idea.  i've never heard of an architect writing a local opinion piece, though there are organizations that want reinvigorate downtown, revitalize certain areas, save a water tower near my house, etc.

now i wonder if people are writing them, and i'm just not seeing them?

Dec 23, 13 5:02 pm

Bulgar, I'm not sure what you mean?   Not many people think they can be architects.  There are far more doctors than architects.  Architecture is extremely hard. You need a certain balance of right and left brain thinking which is very rare IMO.  We have so many arch grads because of the way we institutionalized the profession. Related to what i was saying before, we essentially designed a profession around serving and protecting the average. If arch school was not a professional degree, and it was sold for what it is (an uncertain path) little timmys momma would have made him become a dentist. There would be far fewer architects if we removed the illusion of security from the professional degree. Also, Architecture is not surgery. Architecture is a creative profession. Architecture also poses no immediate risk to anyone. We design things that can be checked before they have the chance of doing any harm.  As for your question, people don't take architects seriously because we are always trying to demand relevance.  

Dec 23, 13 5:36 pm

There are actually some jack asses in my state demanding that the board "save my profession" this is their slogan. They are completely retarded and sound like little babies.  People tend to not respect that kind of thing.  Lol. It's friggin common sense.  The state ain't there to protect professions. Lol. Not their job. 

Dec 23, 13 5:51 pm

curtkram: regarding your 3:28 post, if your local component is not actively promoting Practice Management programs, you should check into the National AIA"s Practice Management Knowledge Community, which is very prominent in providing very high quality programs and free webinars on the topics you seek.

The Practice Management Knowledge Community also publishes a quarterly practice management newsletter which features articles by some of strongest practice management and marketing consultants and practitioners around. All of those newsletters are archived and you don't even need to be an AIA member to access those archives - see:

I'm also aware of a number of communities where the local component did not provide much in the way of Practice Management programs, resulting in individual members volunteering to set up a program of monthly meetings for firm principals to hear lectures and discuss issues of common interest. From what I gather, these efforts have been quite popular and filled a management and marketing vacuum in the local component's program calendar.

Dec 23, 13 7:22 pm

jla-x: "No one mentions the real problem that is Idp.  If firms didn't have the advantage of the cheap labor that Idp provides they would not be as flexible with price."

With respect, let's examine this statement more deeply. Let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that all graduates were able to sit for the exam immediately upon graduation and, if they pass, are granted a license. How would that change things? How would this relieve the "cheap labor" problem that you define?

Most likely, those who pass the exam would do one of two things - a) some still would pursue a job with a firm; and b) the rest would start their own firms. In either case, we still have the same number of graduate architects entering the marketplace looking for a way to earn a living.

Those who start new firms would be in competition with existing firms in a marketplace already overpopulated with design firms -- causing further downward pressure on fees across the board. Those who choose to pursue jobs with firms will be chasing jobs at firms that now face even greater fee competition, putting even more pressure on the cost structure of those firms.

While not wanting to be argumentative, I don't see how is this an improvement for anybody? I just don't see how this changes the fundamental economics of the profession.

Dec 23, 13 10:09 pm

Stone, lets look at the law profession.  Upon graduation one can sit for the bar exam and become licensed within 6 months of graduation.  The vast majority of new lawyers will go on to work for a firm as a lawyer.  They start right away with a career and can begin to focus ona special area of law gaining experiance in that area and thus gaining value as an expert in that niche.  Some will take a chance and start a firm.  Due to a lack of experience, some of them will fail.  Others however (the best and brightest) will become successful usually taking on small simple cases at first and then working their way up to more complex cases.  They will not be competing for the jodi aries case with seasoned lawyers right away. Regardless, the point is that their futures are 100% in their hands.  They have to take personal responsibility for what ever path they choose. They are treated as adults and with that comes a certain level of respect, responsibility, and autonomy.  This is very different from what happens in architecture.  Arch grads are treated like babies. They are thrown into a world of dependency which breeds animosity and resentment. At the same time, firms are burdened with the awkward situation where they have employees/trainees.  These grads whom are mostly riddled with debt are now put into a 3-7 year period where they have low income and make little to no dent in the loans.  At the same time life goes on.  They get married, have kids, get more debt...,then walla they are licensed with a diluted average skill set and little to no expertise in any significant niche other than revit or some other trade that does not require a license.  With the tie downs of a mid-life career there is very little ability to start a firm.  Because of this, most people will choose to stay in their job despite the lack of upward mobility.  My sis started a law firm right out of school.  She built the business and is making high 6 figures within  3 years.  Compare that to architects...,most are barely done with Idp within 3 years.  As for fees,  like I said, increase value increase fees, decrease value by reducing the art and science to a stamp and fees go down.  Fees are more a product of outside forces and perceived value than undercutting.  Even with all the cheap dime a dozen lawyers some are still able to charge astronomical fees.  

Dec 24, 13 12:31 am

i think the point some people are making about IDP is that it basically makes you dependent on someone other than yourself, with no other choice if you want to continue your professional development.  and in order to get this experience people will do anything, including working for practically nothing.  IDP is, in reality, the way NCARB compensates for the piss poor education that is the  "accredited" architecture degree.

this is a huge reason why wages start low-- graduates just don't have enough practical knowledge to even be useful when they start working.  if every single architectur grad took the test the day of graduation they'd FAIL every single section, because none of that information is actually presented (and TAUGHT, not just mentioned in the syllabus once to get NAAB points) in college.  compare that with a law grad, or even an engineering grad-- people that can actually CREATE VALUE for a firm and don't need to be baby sat and taught everything from star to finish-- and you begin to see the problem.

there's no reason why i should have to sit down with study books for the ARE and teach myself material i've never seen before.  not after spending $100k on an "education."  IDP exists because our education system doesn't work.

Dec 24, 13 1:05 am

"IDP exists because our education system doesn't work."

Yep !

Dec 24, 13 2:01 am

Well some programs are better than others.  The grad school I went to had a heavy focus on building systems, structures, etc.   

Dec 24, 13 2:19 am

I grew up in a small town and my local county fair board was actually waiting until I graduated so they could give me my first commission, they asked me to design a tornado shelter and exhibit hall. A shed. They thought they could get a good design for a good price while helping out a young person that they enjoyed watching grow up. They knew I was fresh but they wanted to take a chance on me. I was excited for it but it became clean to both of us that I knew next to nothing about the approximately 8 thousand things it would take to pull off a pretty simple project. I just didn't have the resources to do all that. Awkward. So I drew them a picture for $50 and they got someone else to build it. 

Dec 24, 13 7:56 am

Statistically most newly graduated lawyers are starving. If someone is making the "high six figures" three years out if law school they are so far off the normal distribution chart of income as to be in the next room.

Dec 24, 13 8:43 am

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