May 22, 2009

What do you want to be called in 2010?

by Katie Harms, AIA

Summary: Remember all those times you’ve sat back and thought: “Why didn’t they just ask me?” Well, here is your opportunity to weigh in on a hot topic. The National Associates Committee (NAC) is dedicated to representing and advocating for Associate Members, both mainstream and alternative, in the national, regional, state, and local components of the AIA. The NAC is surveying AIA members, both architects and associates, on the issue of “intern titling.”

What do you think “unlicensed architects” should be called. What is in the name or titling for you? What does it get you, where does it get you, or how does it make you feel? Those of us on the licensure track are working really hard to earn the title of “architect” and those of us who are architects treasure the right to the title. So, what can we non-licensed individuals call themselves that reflects the rigor of architectural education and training they have experienced?

This is where you come in … where do you see the profession going? Do we stay the traditional architects as we know now, or do we become another type of architect that takes on another name or position? This is up to us and our next generation to determine where to take our profession. This is you, me, and our future.

This is your chance, both licensed architect and intern to speak out and let our profession know what you want “interns” to be called after years of schooling and internship. Did you know on average that it takes almost 12 years from the time you graduate from high school to get your license, 5 years to complete a bachelor of architecture, and 6.4 years to complete the Intern Development Program and the Architectural Registration Exam (according to the 2007 Internship and Career Survey). This is currently the longest licensure track time among all professions, even more than doctors and lawyers!

Should “interns” have a different title that represents them accurately in the architectural profession? Should we dare try to change or clarify what has been set for years?

There were many times, after college, while completing my internship, that I was confused with a student because I was labeled an “intern architect.” Do those people not on a licensure track, but who have been doing what “architects” do in an office deserve a title other than “intern”? Think about it, are there principals in your firm, or a firm you are familiar with, who are not licensed? Theoretically, they are still “intern architects,” however, they often do not carry that title. What titles are they using? Why is it acceptable?

The NAC has contacted each state for the legal titles used by “unlicensed architects,” which is identified in the attached map. With the variance from state to state, you can see why the titling gets to be confusing among peers and clients alike.

The goal of the NAC is to compile the existing information along with the results from the survey to develop a strategy to advocate on your behalf for a uniform title that accurately defines your educational background and career responsibilities.

Please take a moment to voice your opinion and thoughts on this very controversial topic! We are the voice of the future, let it be heard! Interns and licensed architects take the survey. Join the discussion.


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Interns and licensed architects take the survey. Join the discussion.

Katie Harms is an architect and job captain with OPN Architects in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
She works in the studio designing, managing clients, and coordinating with consultants.
Additionally, Katie serves as a leader for OPN’s in-house Mentoring Committee and Greening the Office Initiative.

A member of the AIA since 2003, she has contributed to the AIA in many ways including serving on the Iowa AIAS Committee while in college, chair of the Emerging Professionals Committee in Iowa, currently the Central States regional associate director, and recently appointed to the National Associates Committee Executive Board.

Katie attended Iowa State University and received a bachelor of architecture in 2003. She has recently completed the ARE and is a LEED accredited professional.