The Journey to an Architecture License
Date: Mar 2, 2020 Read time: 5 mins
Becoming a licensed architect is no small feat. Commitment and determination are essential as the process can take anything from 5 to 8 years to complete.
The road to licensure includes six tests covering the topics of practice management, project management, programming and analysis, project planning and design, project development and documentation, and construction and evaluation. These tests may be taken in any order, but all six tests must be passed within a 5 year time frame.
In addition to these tests, the practitioner must complete 3,740 hours of work at an architecture firm and the work must be spread across the six disciplines covered by the tests.
Completing this process requires levels of dedication and perseverance that not all aspiring architects are prepared for. We sat down with Tim Rudloff, Project Coordinator at TSK and newly licensed architect, to discuss his journey through the licensing process and how support from the leadership team at TSK was crucial to his success.
Can you explain a little about the process of getting your architecture license?
Tim: The path towards getting a license can be boiled down to three major steps. The first one is getting the right amount of education. In my case, I received a five-year bachelor’s in architecture. In most cases you’re required to have a master’s degree, but at the time that I earned my bachelor’s it was a five-year bachelor’s and you were good to go. You need to receive a degree from an accredited university. You can’t receive an architectural degree from a for-profit college. It needs to be from an accredited architecture school.
Part two, you need a certain amount of hours in the workplace. You need different types of hours in practice management, project management, construction, documentation, and so forth. Once you receive the minimum number of required work experience hours, then you need to take a six-part exam.
You can take any of the parts in any order that you like. Once you pass your first test, a five-year rolling clock begins ticking, so from the day you pass your first test you have five years to pass the remaining five tests. If you wait longer than five years to pass the last test then the first test drops off and you have to take it again.
How long did it take you to complete all six tests?
Tim: In my case, I finished all six tests in about eight and a half months. But there were many months and months of studying leading up to that.
To complete all six tests in less than nine months must have taken a lot of dedication.
Tim: I studied between four and five weeks per test, and then I took a week off to rest my brain and recover and have a little time to become more human again before I dove into the next test. I took them slightly out of order. I took the sixth test and failed that one, unfortunately. I was doing CA for a project at the time and that test revolved around construction and administrations. So I figured that was a good fit but I failed anyway. Then I moved on to test three, passed that one, and then I took the sixth test a second time and passed.
It must have been nerve-racking to wait for the results of that test when you took it a second time.
Tim: For most of the tests there was a one-day turnaround for knowing your results. You can click the button at the end of each test to find out the likelihood of passing or not. They don’t give you a definitely yes or no answer but I haven’t heard of a case where it would tell you you’d passed and then you ended up failing, or vice versa. I had to wait six days once because I took the test right before a federal holiday. That was a long six days!
Once you had passed all the tests you got sworn in before the state board. What was that like?
Tim: As far as I know, the state of Nevada is the only state in the country that requires you to be sworn in in front of the state board. I used to work in Arizona and the process for that was once you passed your tests, you just let the organization that administers the test and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards know that you passed and then they either mail you your stamp or you pick it up at the state board. But Nevada requires a swearing in ceremony at their quarterly board meeting. It was really cool to get dressed up for the occasion and I was lucky to have Bill Snyder swear me in. He’s on the state board and he volunteered to swear me in.
It’s great that someone from TSK was able to help you finish up that last step in your licensing journey. Do you think working at TSK helped you prepare for the exams?
Tim: My experience at TSK was pretty well-rounded. I wasn’t just looking at construction documents. I got well-rounded experience here in the office and a lot of work experience out in the field. From September of 2017 until the end of 2019 I was working on the CSN Student Union project and the first half of that chunk of time was spent on construction documents. In the second half I was out in the field taking photos, taking notes, doing field observation reports every single week at all three campuses. I was getting that hands-on experience and seeing the building grow a little bit every week and was getting to actually feel the building, the columns, and the walls as they were built. That helped me learn more about construction better than just looking at it in a book or on a construction document sheet.
And as far as moral support, there’s a lot of people taking the tests here at the same time so we were all cheering each other on to pass and we were bouncing information from the tests off each other. We were helping each other out and it’s good to have that circle of moral support.
What advice would you give to students who want to get their architecture license at some point?
Tim: It’s not easy and it seems like an extremely high hill to climb. And it is, but it can be done. Going into it I had a lot of self-doubt. I didn’t think I could do it at all but I put my head down and committed to it. I acknowledged that a lot of my 2019 would be sacrificed and a lot of Friday nights and weekends would be spent in my apartment studying.
Honestly, one of the hardest parts of studying was starting because it turns into a new lifestyle. You’ve got to get off Netflix or YouTube and reset your whole mindset and lifestyle in order to get it done. But once it’s done it’s totally worth it.
I found out I passed all my tests on my birthday, which was really cool. That feeling of knowing I was done was one of the happiest moments of my life so far. It’s just an awesome feeling. It’s totally worth it. It can be done and it’s worth it.
Congratulations Tim, we`re all thrilled you`ve received your architect`s license and practitioners stamp, and thank you for taking part in this interview!
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