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Top 10 Pros and Cons of Being a Licensed Architect

Are you weighing the pros and cons of getting licensed? Ok, spoiler alert - it’s not a bad idea. We know we’re biased, but that’s the reason we developed ARE test prep materials in the first place, because we know the importance of being licensed. It opens doors, gets you some more money, and gives you a super credible email signature. 

All that being said, we acknowledge the gravity of this choice, so we’ve outlined the top 10 pros and cons to help you make this difficult decision.

Pro: Being an architect means you’re now responsible for the health, safety and welfare of the general public, and that’s nothing to scoff at.

Con: That’s a lot of responsibility. 

Pro: You’ll make more money. Money isn’t everything, but it definitely helps. According to the AIA Compensation Survey Salary Calculator, you’ll earn almost $6,000 per year more in compensation. With that pay increase you could buy two dogs and have them walked every day while you’re at work. 

Con: More money, more problems. 

Pro: Being licensed makes you more marketable. With any sort of accreditation, it makes you appealing to clients who are seeking out a more experienced team to work on their projects. If clients want you, firms will want you, increasing your employment opportunities. 

Con: You don’t like the attention. 

Pro: You can call yourself an architect and sign your emails as such, so bold, highlight and shoot laser beams out of that signature because you’ll earn it every day with what you do. (We know architects are tasteful so you’ll probably refrain.) 

Con: Your email signature is already full of inspirational quotes, and you’re not into titles. 

Pro: A license gives you a competitive edge over your colleagues. 

Con: You are so not competitive. 

Pro: Taking the ARE isn’t cheap, but you can find avenues for supplementing exam fees. Many firms will foot the bill because they know the value in investing in your future. Additionally, AIA chapters across the country are providing ARE relief; read about who’s involved

Con: You might have to pay for it out of pocket, and you’d rather get a cool bike. 

Pro: You can sign off on drawings

Con: You don’t even like signing receipts. 

Pro: Add this to the existing feathers in your cap - multiple years of undergraduate and graduate schooling, intense internships and shadowing, and now a mastery of the content in your field. These are all achievements to be proud of. 

Con: You aren’t super ambitious; your idea of a personal achievement is finally getting through The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Pro: You accrue so much knowledge. After over 3,000 hours in AXP hours and six divisions of testing, that’s a lot of information to retain which useful experience to reference throughout your career. 

Con: That’s a lot of time, rewatching the Sopranos is easier. 

Pro: The paths to becoming your own boss are easier. Being licensed makes running a firm more feasible. This opens doors to increasing your income, dictating your portfolio and managing your own schedule. 

Con: Again, allergic to responsibility. 

What if all of this talk about needing to get licensed to move up has overwhelmed you? Your personal calendar or availability might not allow for getting licensed right now, and that’s perfectly understandable. It’s like going from your couch to summiting Everest - Jon Krakauer would advise against that. Do some planning to see when you can dedicate your resources to executing a solid study schedule before you take the leap. Surely there’s a dad-ism in here about half-assing things. 

For those ready to take that next step, see how our ARE Test Prep can get you licensed, and brush up on your John Hancock, because after you pass that sixth division, you’ll be signing a lot of drawings.