Today I officially became a licensed architect. Depending upon when you are reading this, and when I actually got around to posting this blog, today is Cinco de Mayo. A day for Mexicans and Brady to celebrate a victory over an opponent of behemoth proportions – albeit different battles.
Architecture licensure is often a defining moment within the profession. Elder architects who took the tests eons ago still prattle about how they could only take the test one time per year. And probably rate being licensed as a defining moment in their life, perhaps even above marriage and breeding children.
Architecture Licensure takes forever. And one would assume that this endeavor would be christened with a golden certificate to signify your accomplishments. But if you live in the state of Montana you would be vastly disappointed.
I am somehow better than the median for other (below-average) architects in becoming licensed, but here are some statistics.
1 Master’s Degree
5 Years “Interning”
7 ARE Tests
80 Hours of Non-court mandated Community Service
8873 IDP hours reported
1 3”x8” piece of paper. – Technically it’s 8.5”x11”, but you are supposed to cut off excess paper.
For all of your hard work, the State of Montana sends you an email with a piece of paper to print out. The same one they issue barbers. I am not trying to be condescending to barbers, but becoming an architect requires a little more effort – with the same reward.
To become a licensed barber you have to demonstrate that you can safely and effectively operate scissors. And then you can legally use scissors in Montana. In the same system, an Architect has to demonstrate that they have passed the basic requirements to ensure the safety of the public when constructing buildings, and then they also are issued a scrap of paper showing that they too can legally practice their profession in the state.
After all the money, hours, and time I have dedicated. A little fanfare in a mailed envelope that states “Do Not Bend” is all I wanted. Instead, I was emailed a .pdf that I have to print with instructions that state “To use license as a Wall License, cut off excess paper and affix the above to wall for display.” You can bet I did indeed cut off these instructions and affixed to a wall to display. But mostly it displays how tawdry this certificate is. I have thrown away better certificates at a lunch-and-learn about metal wall panels than this “certificate.”
The entire process through the state of Montana is very opaque, and one is often left wondering “Wait. Is that it?” The only other information this “certificate” lists (below how to cut off excess paper) is:
- Benefits of renewing online include:
- The ability to print license(s) the same day as the renewal
- The ability to print multiple licenses including one for a pocket card if desired
- The ability to print in color (if you have a color printer)
- The ability to print additional licenses for no additional charge up to 45 days following the end of the renewal cycle
So let me address these amazing benefits.
The ability to print license(s) the same day as the renewal
- Indeed the one drawback of the certificate in the mail is I have to wait another 3 days, after 5 years of completing the process.
The ability to print multiple licenses including one for a pocket card if desired
- A pocket card! Now that is an amazing benefit. I don’t know how many times I am asked at the grocery store, “You say you are an architect, but do you have proof of licensure in your pocket?”
The only problem is, there are no “pocket cards” to print. I am assuming they mean you can fold your printed license and stick it in your pocket. So here are some instructions I used to create my own pocket card.
The ability to print in color (if you have a color printer)
- You’re damn right I printed in color. And I do have a color printer. Granted, I printed at work and the office manager has already told us not to waste money by printing in color. But the certificate clearly told me that printing in color was a benefit. However, the certificate is a grayscale image. I thought perhaps the Montana seal was “greenish” but when I opened it in photoshop the entire document was in grayscale. Apparently the greenish hue WAS a benefit of color printing.
The ability to print additional licenses for no additional charge up to 45 days following the end of the renewal cycle
- That is a very good benefit. They will not charge me to re-print a .pdf I downloaded to my computer. But I will have to be very cautious, because after June 20th they apparently will charge me to re-print this document I already downloaded to my computer.
I probably would be like, “Whatever, I’m licensed. That is the reward in itself.” Except the State of Montana also sent a separate email allowing me to “purchase a wall certificate from Wall Certificate Services at https://nasbastore.org//
Great! Montana is saving valuable tax dollars by not buying and mailing expensive cardstock – but I have to purchase my own glossy certificate. The only problem was, on my limited exposure searching through the boring website, that the NASBA store (National Association of State Boards of Accountancy) only offered a certificate in the state of Montana to be a Certified Public Accountant. I guess I could probably hang a certified public accountant certificate on my wall, but I’ve already expended a great effort to have another professional certification.
Feeling more downtrodden, I wanted to ensure that I was in fact a licensed architect in the State of Montana. On the Montana e-biz portal I could input my license number – and this Wall Certificate was displayed.
Now that is an ACTUAL certificate. I would actually appreciate that certificate affixed to my wall. Except then I read the fine print before downloading this document.
(This document is suitable for framing, but is not a license or proof of licensure) – I am confused why they don’t just make this certificate proof of original licensure.
Ultimately, an Architecture License needs to be designed with clout. The tacky 100lb marble-colored paper at Office Depot with the gold foil embossed emblem is what I deserve, Dammit! In a profession so focused on aesthetics, even the paper needs be designed to display the proper significance. Ultimately, everything should be designed – including a piece of paper. But at least I have a handy pocket-sized card.