IDP – Why?

I’m not talking about the meaning of life or even the architectural profession. I’m talking about a topic much less stimulating although directly related to the life of our emerging professionals…the Intern Development Process. I’m the IDP State Coordinator, of course that is what I’m writing about.

So why are we doing this whole IDP thing? Well…to paraphrase from NCARB’s website. “In 1976, IDP was introduced to develop a more structured program for interns to ensure they were gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to practice independently.” So to answer my second question, who is it for anyway? Interns are those who asked for IDP. They needed a tool to help them get out of being stuck drafting toilet elevations for the next 5 years. If you’re sitting at your desk drafting toilet details right now, I’m sorry but it will get better.

Unfortunately, for the next twenty years nothing really changed within IDP. It wasn’t until the late 1990’s that minor adjustments crept into the program. Finally in 2005 multiple studies were conducted in order to help IDP keep better pace with the profession.

Bored yet? Yeah well, if you have been tracking your time lately you know that IDP seems to be always changing. But as of last week the changes are done…for a few years at least. There is new reporting software, everyone’s hours have been modified and I haven’t heard many hiccups yet. The NCARB website ( has improved dramatically in the past few years with the addition of podcasts and a number of links to help you navigate the system.

So as you work through the new system you will hopefully notice it has been simplified and with any luck you didn’t lose any hours. If so, let me know. The new system allows for more flexibility with supplementary hours (think electives) and the experience settings couldn’t be simpler. For example, if you work for an Architect in the US your experience setting is “A for Architecture” and if you work in the design industry but not for an Architect your experience setting is “O for Other”. Anyway, if you are working on your IDP or are about to start, check out the website.

As far as the meaning of life and ideas about why we practice architecture…I’ll leave that to the rest of our EP bloggers.


Brandon Anderson

AIA Colorado, IDP State Coordinator

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