Almost an Architect

On Monday November 24, I took what is hopefully my last Architecture Registration Exam (ARE). Most people I talk to don’t understand what it takes to become an architect so I thought I’d shed some insight for those not in the profession. First of all, let me point out that it’s very difficult to go to school for five or six years and only be able to call yourself an intern. That’s what we are though until we complete 5,600 hours of training and pass nine exams.


The first step in becoming licensed starts with your choice in school. There are two options: go to a school that offers a five-year bachelor of architecture or get your master of architecture.


The second step is to complete your Intern Development Program (IDP), which means completing 5,600 training hours under a registered architect. You can also complete some of these hours under a registered engineer or through teaching or researching. There are sixteen categories to the IDP that you must acquire a minimum number of hours in each. These categories include things like programming, code research, construction documents, construction administration, project management and community service.


The last step is to take the ARE. In most states, you are required to finish your IDP before you begin taking your exams. Texas however, is one of the states that will allow you to start taking your exams six months after graduating from an accredited university. They are currently in the process of changing to a new version of the exam. I am taking it in the old version ARE 3.1 which has nine exams. Six of them are multiple choice and three are graphic vignettes that you have to draw your answer in a CAD program. The new exam, which came out in June, is ARE 4.0 and has seven exams. It is essentially the same information, just arranged differently. Areas of examination include structures, mechanical and electrical, construction methods, contracts, and various others topics related to the architectural profession.


As I said earlier, I just finished what is hopefully the last test. I took mechanical and electrical. Ordinarily, you find out in 2-4 weeks what your results are. Unfortunately I still have about three more months of IDP to finish plus the processing of the paperwork before I can officially call myself an architect.