What Do Architecture Firms Look for in New Hires?

  • 07 October, 2021

Hands down, having an architectural license is valuable. Let me reiterate that: having an architectural license is valuable. It's valuable not only for you, but for firms and clients of firms as well. When hiring, firms consider whether a candidate is licensed, how long they have been licensed, and how many states they are licensed in. Having an architectural license sets you apart from other candidates applying for the same position.

Firms are not typically looking for licensed staff or new architects to sign drawings. In most cases, there are designated licensed individuals within a firm, such as a partner or principal, who sign drawings on behalf of the firm. So, just because you're licensed doesn't mean that you need to purchase a stamp, sign drawings, or worry about the liability of having your name attached to a design. If you have any qualms about getting licensed due to the added liability it may bring, it is important to acknowledge that you do not necessarily need to fulfill this responsibility. Firms usually have preexisting personnel to take on the liability of stamping and signing drawings.

What Do Architecture Firms Look for in New Hires?

Now, you may be wondering, why do firms care if I'm licensed? Why should I get licensed if I don't have to?

Firms want you to be licensed for four main reasons:

  1. It reflects on your character: An architectural license confirms self-motivation, dedication, and a minimum level of technical expertise. It is understood that getting licensed is difficult and therefore requires a level of persistence and dedication to complete. Firms recognize and reward this effort and tenacity.
  2. It saves them money: Architectural firms pay annually for professional insurance, and their rates are lower (because risk is lower) if there is a higher percentage of licensed architects in the firm.
  3. It adds value to their clients: Clients respect and value architectural licenses. Many clients expect, or even require, that the team members working on their project are licensed. They want the best and brightest experts designing and building their project. They want reassurance that their project will be built well, will be worth their money, and will not cause technical or liability risks. An architectural license may give them this needed reassurance.
  4. It strengthens their marketing numbers: Numbers and statistics are important in the business world. They may make or break a project's success. For example, publicly funded projects are required to issue Request for Proposals (RFPs) as a means for selecting an architecture firm. Based on history, leaders typically choose firms with increased numbers of licensed architects to partner with for publicly funded projects. This case is just one example of how firms can use licensed employees in their marketing efforts. The more licensed architects they have in their firm, the more clout they carry.

In summary, firms want you to get licensed! And you should want to get licensed as well- in fact, you should make it a top priority. After all, you've come this far as to be eligible, why stop now? You deserve the accolades and new opportunities licensure will provide! Pass the ARE so you can finally call yourself an architect (not a designer or intern)!

About the Author: Carissa Oyedele

Carissa Shrock Oyedele, AIA, NCIDQ, LEED BD+C is an Associate Principal at Moore Ruble Yudell Architects & Planners. She received a Bachelor of Architecture degree with a minor in Construction Management from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. Her education provides a solid foundation for solving creative design solutions to various project types, such as those with complex programs, schedules, and delivery methods. Carissa's portfolio includes masterplans, civic, campus, and mixed-use projects locally, nationally, and internationally- with notable projects of the Santa Monica Public Library and US Embassies in Helsinki and The Hague. Carissa has been recognized as a leader in the architectural community as a recipient of AIA National Young Architect Award, Top 20 Under 40 by ENR (Engineering News-Record) California, and NextGen 10 in Real Estate & Finance by CSQ Magazine.

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