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  • Writer's pictureMark

NCARB - 7 Questions on the Analysis of Practice

NCARB is running its twice-a-decade study of what (how to) keeps people from passing its exams.

And I watch the Webinars for YOU - so you don't have to waste hours of your life monitoring NCARB and all the things they are doing to change their exams.

(By the way - Thats an N-CRAB)

So recently I watched what NCARB claimed was a webinar - NCARB's Analysis of Practice - in which they asked 7 questions to the attendees about licensure, its value, what it means to you, and things that you encountered while taking your exams. I signed up for this because NCARB promised the possibility of up to $500 to participate in its Analysis of Practice surveys. What I thought was going to be an informative webinar, was really a solicitation for free information.

As such, let me break down this recent webinar for you the people, and pose these questions to you, and get your discussion and feedback.

Question #1 - What does Architecture Licensure mean to YOU?

Question #2 - What do you feel is the Value of the Architecture License?

Question #3 - Would you still seek your Architecture License, if you could be called an Architect without earning a license?

Question #4 - Why is an architecture license required?

Question #5 - What competencies did you need to demonstrate on your Architecture Registration Exams - that you feel ARE NOT USEFUL to Architects?

Question #5b - What competencies did you NOT demonstrate on your Architecture Registration Exams - that you feel ARE REQUIRED to Architects?

Question #6 - When / How did your Day to Day job responsibilities change after earning your Registration?

Question #7 - Do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Architects protect the Health, Safety, and Welfare of the general public?


Ben and I both have our own answers to these questions. I have wanted to be an Architect for as long as I knew what it was (since about age 7) and so that shapes my answers a bit. Ben's goal has been to become a Registered Architect throughout his studies and career and he has learned all that he can about the profession, its duties, and responsibilities.

Here are our answers to these questions: Ben's answers are in RED and Mark's answers are in BLUE.

Q1 - To me, an architecture license is recognition of a certain level of experience, skill, and knowledge. It's a mutual understanding in the field that you are qualified. Once you put the challenge and burden of the exams behind you, you can practice architecture with the skill and knowledge of an actual architect, and enjoy it.

Licensure to me has been the goal of my life. To be licensed means that I commend a level of respect to those who are not licensed and the credibility that I know what's expected to be a registered professional.

Q2 - Same as above really. I feel the value of the license is in that it is exclusive to those who earn it. I am strong on leadership and having the license means that I know enough to lead people in the building process.

Q3 - That term, "Registered Architect" is something to be proud of. It is earned and it is given by your peers as recognition of your accomplishment and as a "welcome" gesture to practice architecture. If the title was given without merit, it would be worthless. I have always wanted to be an architect, but I may not have pursued my architecture license if anyone who practiced "architecture" could be called an architect. "Architecture" has been made out to be such a broad vague term that you see people who know how to use AUTOCAD representing themselves as architects... But I am confident enough that I would have been an "Architect" the day I graduated college with my Architecture degree, if it were not a legal term. And I honestly would have wanted to be allowed to LEGALLY represent myself as an Architect, or else I would not have gone through the 5 years of school plus all the examinations.

Q4 - The architecture license ensures that whoever is practicing under that title is qualified. Our lives are spent mostly indoors interacting with the buildings around us. I can't imagine how dangerous it would be if the practice of architecture was not regulated...if licenses were not required. The building is a complex science that requires an intense level of expertise, and the license is proof of that expertise. A LICENSE is required because with a license the profession can be regulated. Professionals can be held to ETHICAL standards. A licensed architect has certain knowledge requirements to hold the position.

Q5 - I hate to say it, but calculating structural forces is probably not that relevant to my day-to-day. In fact, for liability reasons, I would almost always want an engineer to provide the structure. I think the tests would be better off testing on broad structural concepts, not calculations. I am a firm believer in using people for their skills - i.e. a structural engineer to determine my structural framing. That way I can focus on design and detailing. I do not think I will ever design HVAC systems for a project.... Broader, and I am a bit torn on this, Practice management, is probably not something I need an ENTIRE exam for when I do not plan on being a practice manager - or at least in the first few years of my career. That said, each of these things is good to have a broad knowledge of to understand what and how those items affect the proposed building.

Q5b - I actually think that the Exams do a pretty good job of testing you on a broad range of relevant material. Is it all relevant? Are some things missed? Possibly. But the purpose of the exams is to ensure you can safeguard the Health, Safety, and Welfare of the public, and in that respect, it accomplishes the goal. Honestly, a thing as simple as "how to swing a hammer" in terms of actual construction details. I think that marketing is an important part of practice management, and architecture school and the AREs do not really require much business knowledge.

Q6 - In some ways, not at all. In other ways, a ton. I would say my actual day to day remained relatively the same, but I also think by this point I was performing the work of a typical architect anyway. What changed the most was internal. My confidence grew tremendously upon receiving my license because, in many ways, it was the world validating my experience. I think my performance improved as a result. For me, once I earned my registration, I knew I was more valuable at another firm. I knew that I could earn more money, but also be valuable in different ways. Where I was at the time of my registration, my day-to-day would not change much at all.

Q7 - I think these generalizations are dangerous. Of course, not all architects are concerned with Health, Safety, and Welfare, but they should be. It is their job and responsibility. I think that the entire point of registration is to ensure that Architects promote HSW for the general public. I also think that if an Architect does NOT strive to ensure those protections, they should not be a registered architect.


What do you think?

What is your reason to complete your registration exams? What are your answers to the 7 questions above?


How can we help you pass your Architecture Registration Exams?

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