Do the Research - Start by finding out what you need to do in order to become licensed in your jurisdiction. Most areas require some combination of the national Architectural Registration Exams (AREs) and documentation of required experience through the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). Some jurisdictions have additional requirements (such as the California Supplemental Exam) The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) provides many excellent resources for navigating through these tests and programs. Once you understand the process, it becomes much less daunting. See the links below for further information.
Create a Schedule - Go high tech and use Asana or a different free scheduling/reminder app or stick with the analog approach by simply make a list on a piece of paper - either way the important thing is to set your deadline and design progressive steps along the way for reaching that goal. This is especially important for the AREs. Pick a date that you would like to have completed all of your tests and then figure out how to pace yourself to reach that goal. For example, if you want to complete your tests in two years, plan on taking a test about every 2-3 months (a fairly reasonable pace with a decent amount of study time for most people). If you are ambitious, go ahead and schedule your exams! The pressure of meeting those deadlines will help you reach your goal. You can also create a schedule for the AXP and communicate your schedule with your firm to help them target opportunities to give you the experience you need in each category. The big idea here is to make a plan and stick to it!
Get Connected - Create a Support Group - For some people, this option may seem unnecessary, but for others, creating a study group can be highly motivating and help you stay focused. Find up to 4-5 people that are taking the exams and set up a virtual and physical meet-up to mentor/support each other. Compare notes on which tests were difficult, and strategies that worked for getting through. Another route is to join social media groups of people that are taking the ARE as a method for virtual support. It is also important to create a support group within your firm to help you reach your AXP hours. Talk about categories that you are having trouble getting experience in and brainstorm ways to fill that need.
Leverage Firm Support/Resources - Does your firm provide time/money/resources for you to get licensed? Find out! Many firms provide study books, reimburse for tests, or pay for the time to take the exam. If there are no policies in place, write to the firm leadership with a proposal of HR policies for Licensure support of staff and the benefits associated.
Why it is important:
Why is a Road Map Important?
Accountability and Goal Setting will keep you on target and focused while navigating a complicated process.
You are learning a valuable skill set not only for the licensure process, but one you can apply to charting your goals for professional development.
Why is Licensure Important?
Credentials - Earning a credential helps provide credibility to you as a professional and combats implicit bias, especially for those who are not in a majority demographic.
Confidence and Autonomy - You could start your own business if you wanted to!
Leverage Point for Negotiating - Having a credential provides you with a major tool when negotiating for a higher salary, professional advancement, and better project opportunities
Decreases Insurance Costs for your Firm - Non-licensed/emerging professionals often carry higher liability insurance premiums.
Study Guides created by Architects for Architects:
#ARESketches by Lora Teagarden, LLC.
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Description of difficulty levels:
Very Easy - Takes no more than a couple of minutes, requires almost no effort
Easy - Takes no more than fifteen to thirty minutes, requires little effort
Medium - Takes no more than an hour, moderate effort required, might have to put yourself out there a bit
Hard - Takes a couple of hours, effort required, will have to put yourself out there.
- Very Hard - Takes more than a couple of hours, may be a recurring commitment. Requires a solid amount of effort. Challenge yourself!