The latest glimmers of post-recessionary good news for the profession come in a new career survey of interns, jointly released by the AIA and the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Seventy-eight percent of respondents to the online survey, conducted in 2012, reported that they were employed in professional architecture work, up 8 percent from the last time the survey was conducted in 2010. Just 6 percent of respondents stated that they were unemployed, down 11 percent from two years before. And among respondents who were laid off from a position, 68 percent indicated that they were likely to stay in the profession, a slight uptick from the 64 percent who said that they would in the previous survey.

The Rickinson Group, an independent marketing research company, administered the 2012 survey, which had 10,003 eligible respondents from the more than 95,000 invitations that were sent to potential candidates.

Aside from the slightly better economic conditions suggested by the data, the survey also explored the progress and attitudes of interns towards licensure. Thirty-four percent of respondents said they had completed the Intern Development Program (IDP), with another 43 percent saying they are currently participating in the program. Forty percent of respondents said they were taking the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) concurrently with IDP.

The data showed that for some interns, completing the ARE was taking longer than indicated in previous surveys. Thirty-five percent of respondents who had completed the ARE said it took three or more years, up from 31 percent in 2010. And 46 percent of respondents who hadn’t yet completed the exams indicated that that they expected it to take more than three years to complete them, a figure up from the 27 percent who said the same in 2010.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents have not taken any divisions of the ARE, and, among that group, 56 percent cited a lack of preparation time and 54 percent cited the cost as reason they have not yet taken the test.

Among interns, the perception of the test’s difficulty has risen in the last decade: 66 percent of respondents rated the ARE as difficult (on a scale of "too difficult" to "too easy"), about the same percentage as in 2010 but a significant increase from the 2003 survey, in which 48 percent respondents rated it too difficult. In fact, 20 percent of respondents to the 2012 survey said they had taken some portion of the ARE but had not passed at least one part, an increase of 7 percent from 2010.