Thursday, September 18, 2008

Never Give Up, No Matter What

If you want to be an Architect, you must be patient (and aware of the fact that, contrary to popular belief, you do NOT make the big bucks). Let me tell you a little about my journey.

First, I had to get an accredited Bachelor of Architecture, which is a 5-year degree (not a 4-year one stretched out, but seriously 10 semesters). I went to school here:

Upon graduation, you join the group of the profession:

As a new grad (and someone who is not yet licensed) you are called an "associate" member of the AIA.

So now you have a job! You work very long hours for little pay (my school teacher roommate made more money that I when we were both new grads, if that puts the "not the big bucks" statement into perspective). If you ever intend to be a licensed Architect (which is what we pretty much have to be for the most respect within the profession) you have to participate in the Intern Development Program:

This is a program that is designed to make sure all new grads gain knowledge in the 16 designated areas of the profession (in their opinion). Your progress is monitored by a licensed Architect within your firm. This can easily take 3 years to accomplish, as new grads are often pigeon-holed into one role (i.e. you don't always get to do everything). For me, it took 5 years! So to recap, 5 years of school, then 5 years of IDP. What's next?

When the IDP is complete, then -- and only then -- is an architecture grad eligible to take the Architect Registration Examination. It's not some $100 single exam... no, there are NINE exams, each which cost over $100. Some people are fortunate enough to breeze right through all of them. NOT ME!

I have been testing for the past 5 1/2 years. I only passed 3 of the 9 on the first try. It was very, very frustrating. I figured out after a while that I must not be a good test taker, because I certainly studied (and was quite successful on the job, I must say -- but couldn't manage to pass these irrelevant exams!) Once you fail one, you have to wait 6 months to be able to retake it. And they instituted a policy called the "rolling clock" at one point, and so if you didn't pass them all within 5 years after the clock started, you'd have to start all over. Yikes!

So I kept on trying, feeling like quite the idiot for not being able to do what my peers apparently handled as easily as a walk in the park (a lot of them, anyway). Did I want to just give up? Of course. It was torture. Trying so hard and always failing is NOT fun. Why me? I need that license!

I moved to Mississippi "8 for 9" and retook the final exam in early August (for the 7th time...) Well guess what! As of yesterday I found out that I PASSED!!!! I'm all done! I am licensed! These folks say so:

Because I started the registration process in Arkansas (God's country!) my license is from Arkansas. I'll have to get reciprocal licensure in Mississippi (forms and money - waaaaaay easier than more tests!)

So yesterday was the best day of my ENTIRE CAREER. I finally achieved the ultimate!!! Now I will be Susan, AIA! I can do bigger and better things and will be more respected. Whoo hoo!

Thank God I never gave up.


PLANET3RRY said...

talk about a bunch of hoops to go through just to become licensed... of course, they are probably the most structurally sound and pretty hoops there are but still...

Aren't you glad that there is no test for parenthood?

Petraruns said...

Congratulations! Well done. And I have to say that I, for one, would know that you would never give up...

Onwards and upwards my friend - may the world be your oyster!

Matt said...

Congrats. I know full well the journey you took. My last test result was lost by NCARB and the State. After a few days of frantic calls, I got word over the phone. I was traumatized that only now (3 years later) can I start thinking about taking the LEED exam. Your success is a good reminder to do just that. Maybe I'll see you an an AIA convention down the line.

Passing was great but wait until you get your very own stamp.

MarathonChris said...

Wow congratulations! That is quite an accomplishment! I think you have demonstrated in running as well as in career your ability to hang in there even when things get tough and painful.

Maddy said...

I love the persevernce you have to achieve your goals!

Congratulations! I am so proud of you! So worth the wait!


Southbay Girl said...

Congrats!! You are a true example of never giving up!!!! The sky is the limit now!!!


TinaGirl said...

YEAH! Great job! What perserverience you have, through school, internship and testing. That is amazing dedication for a worthwhile goal and career. I applaud you **clap**clap**clap** on your wonderful news.

Bev said...

Woo Hooo! Way to go. Just in time for the little one's arrival. You can now up your fees so that you can afford all the diapers. Congratulations for not giving up.

Jade Lady said...

The adage of...if you first don't succeed, try, try most certainly true of anything you really want in life.

Big congrats on passing!!!!

ShirleyPerly said...


Wow, I had no idea what architects have to go through to get licensed. Good job sticking with it and passing!!

Arland said...

Congrats! If you want it bad enough its always worth the trouble to get it no matter how long it takes. It can only get better from here on!