“I want to be an architect!” It’s a statement that, at some point in our lives, those of us who have chosen this career path have declared out load. But just as the general public has a though time determine what an architect really does – no, we’re not at all like Ted Mosby – I have had the same challenge determining what kind of architect I inspire to be. To say that I want to be an architect is too general of a statement. The more appropriate statement for me to say is that I want to be a licensed architect. While declaring my commitment to being licensed sets me apart of those who just want to practice architecture, I still feel like that statement is too broad. What does being a licensed architect really mean? One could argue that by wanting to become an architect I would want to follow the traditional career path – Intern, Job Caption, Project Architect, Project Manager, Associate, Principal – moving up the ranks step by step, year after year.
I don’t want to follow the traditional path of architecture. I don’t want to become a Project Manager in the traditional sense, I have little interest in being a Job Caption i.e. Revit Manager, and I have even less of a desire to be just another Associate at a firm that promotes their employees to that level whether or not they earned it. Knowing this only helps define what kind of architect I don’t want to be. Determining where I want my career to take me is still something I am trying to work though.
While I have yet to figure out where I want to go in this profession, I have committed myself to becoming an architect. In fact, I’ll state it again – I want to be an architect. And if anyone questions that based on my declaration of not wanting to follow the traditional path of architecture I would ask them why they think that? I have completed my education by earning a Masters of Architecture degreed, I have nearly completed my IDP hours by working the past 6 years for both a tradition architecture firm and a design/build firm, and I am currently talking my licensing exams. I have clearly shown my commitment.
Committing yourself to becoming an architect is just that – a commitment. Recent studies show that it takes upwards of 15 years to become a licensed architect. That time includes education, experience, and examination. While this time frame may not be any different than decades past, it does seem that to today’s young professionals it is just unacceptable. Compared to other professions the time it takes to become an architect is nearly doubled than that of becoming a lawyer. I’m sure there are ways to accelerate the amount of time it takes to become an architect, I know of some who have become architects within 3 years of graduation. And while that may have worked for them, I don’t find myself in that category. I started this commitment in 2002 and have been working hard ever since – undergrad, grad school, internships, unemployment, etc. My goal is to be licensed by the end of this year. And while it may have taken me over 10 years to become a licensed architect, I will have achieved my goal. I will be a licensed architect. What comes after that, well that’s still to be determined.