Monday, November 29, 2010

What's My Title?

What is my title?  For that matter what was Buckminster Fuller’s title? 

Bucky Fuller was certainly a great inventor, one of the geniuses of the 20th century, most famous for the popularizing the geodesic dome.  Great as he was, he could never legally call himself an Architect.  I’d like to think that there are many people in a similar situation.  People who think they are smart enough, but just haven’t gotten around to completing all the requirements.  Requirements include at least a 5 year Bachelor’s degree, three year internship, and passing 7 exams.  A minimum of about 9 years and very likely longer!  No wonder architect's think they are underpaid.

I'm presently about 6 months from receiving a Masters of Architecture degree.  I've worked at several metro Detroit firms for about 5 years since receiving a Bachelor’s of Science degree in architecture from University of Detroit Mercy.

My job title is "Architect I," meaning I'm either a recently licensed architect or an unlicensed architect with 3-5 years of experience. Individual states are very careful to regulate the title of "Architect" to ensure that no one practices as an architect without being fully licensed.  This means that while I might call myself an architect while drinking at a bar or writing a blog, I cannot represent myself the same way for commercial purposes.  This is considered important to ensure that buildings don’t fall down or lack the required number of toilets. 

This same issue came to trial about 5 years ago during an Aspen Colorado political contest in which an unregistered architect, Jack Johnson was sent a cease and desist letter from the Colorado Board of Examiners.  Jack Johnson was later vindicated when a judge ruled that he had a First Amendment right to refer to himself as an architect so long as it was not for commercial purposes. 

For the purposes of my email signature, it would be misleading to list my job classification.  While it is accurate to say “Intern” I don’t want to be confused with a college junior or senior.  I could just list my degree.  This is common in England but I’ve never seen it done by an American.  I’ve found that the best title for me is either “Architectural Designer” or simply “Designer.”

Hopefully this is all moot in about 18 months.  That is the amount of time I should need to graduate in August and take the 7 ARE’s. (Architect Record Exams) 

“Registered Architect” here I come!

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