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.