a test of time

Most architecture school graduates intend to get registered, but the process takes longer than they expected, according to a 2003 Internship & Career Survey conducted by the American Institute of Architects. Suzanna Wight, AIA, emerging professionals director at the AIA, says the entire registration process is taking almost six years to complete. A majority of the respondents reported that they spent four years accumulating the hours necessary to apply for the exam (a year longer than NCARB's Intern Development Program was designed to take), plus a year and a half sitting all nine parts of the Architect Registration Exam. “When you tack on five or six years of formal education, it's a long time,” she says.

Several factors seem to contribute to the time lag. One is the lack of hands-on experience students get during school. Slightly fewer than half the respondents said they had received practical work experience before being sent out into the world. And whereas most interns reported that their firms gave them a lot of support, half of them said that they'd have to switch firms in order to complete all 16 IDP training areas.

Once all the intern hours are accounted for, the most common reason given for letting registration slide was a lack of time for test prep. Only 4 percent of the nearly 5,000 respondents said the exam cost was a factor. Perhaps not surprising, personal fulfillment was cited as the biggest motivator for pressing on toward registration, while peer and firm pressure barely registered.