Paying Your Dues

This being an odd-numbered year, it’s time once again for that biennial task of renewing one’s license. It’s a part of the licensure process that is often forgotten by many, including me — I literally just hauled out my charge card and paid my $100 renewal fee, with only days to go before the June 30th deadline. Two more years of licensure, in the bag — cha-ching!

Also, I'm pretty sure I'm overdue for an oil change...

Also, I’m pretty sure I’m overdue for an oil change…

I wanted to bring it up here, while its fresh in my mind (since I will most likely forget about it for another two years), because it’s one more thing to consider — after NCARB’s renewal fees, seven divisions of the exam, paying to have your record transmitted to the state board, and the cost of your stamp, it can seem like the cost of achieving a license will simply never end. It’s not that much money (it works out to less than $1 per week to maintain my status as a registered architect, a pittance when you get right down to it), but it’s one of those things that doesn’t get spoken of when we talk about how important it is to get licensed. Fees are a part of life, but that doesn’t stop people from having some odd reactions to them — I worked with a young woman who told me she planned her exam schedule so that earning her initial license fell on the odd-numbered year, giving her an extra 12 months before having to pony up for that first renewal. (And if you can plan that far ahead, my anal-retentive hat is off to you.)

Like many bills, it never seems to come at a good time, but I’ve never once grumbled about renewing my license. I consider it an investment in myself, and the effort that went into achieving it. Here’s to two more years of practice! (Maybe I should mark the calendar now…)

The Home Stretch

So you’ve earned your degree, completed IDP and passed all seven divisions of the ARE.  Congratulations!  You’ve officially earned the right to call yourself a registered architect.  My hat’s off to you.  This is a monumental achievement in your career, and I hope that you’re celebrating (and being celebrated!) in the proper manner.  There’s only a little bit of paperwork left between you and your formal license.

roy-hobbs

Robert Redford rounding third as Roy Hobbs in “The Natural” (1984)

First, check out the Licensure Board Requirements on NCARB’s website.  Hopefully you’ve already done this at the outset of your IDP process, but this is an excellent time to refresh your memory.  This is a great resource, showing each jurisdiction’s specific requirements in a   “Nutrition Facts” format.  Very clear and easy to read.Next, you need to make a formal request that NCARB sends your record to the state licensure board.  Click “Request Transmittal” to get that ball rolling.  This does not happen automatically!  The only constant between your record (maintained by NCARB) and your test scores (maintained by the state’s licensure board), quite frankly, is you.  Don’t drop the ball here!

Then head over to the Pennsylvania Licensure Board’s website for the specifics.  There’s an application form and a small fee for this on the state’s side (which varies from jusridiction to jurisdiction — in Pennsylvania it’s $40).  Once they’ve received your application, the fee, and a copy of your record from NCARB, they will then process your request and issue you a registration number.  This could take a while, but the important part is not to let that bother you!  Remember — the hard part is behind you!  (I’d also recommend following up with a phone call — or three — to make sure that they’re received everything and that your license is in process.)

Now, how do you actually get your stamp?  Answer:  Call a rubber stamp company.  I did a quick search for rubber stamp manufacturers in Pennsylvania and was surprised at how many there actually are (note to self: if architecture should tank, go into the rubber stamp business). You should call first and make sure that they produce professional seals for registered architects.  Here in the Pittsburgh region, we use Bunting, Inc.  Give them a call and ask to speak with Cliff.  If you’re from the other side of the state, I’m sure they’d ship to you as well, but you could probably find one a little closer to you.

Word to the wise: when you place your order, ASK FOR A PROOF!  I’ve heard horror stories about mis-spelled names, incorrect license numbers, and even the wrong state seal (!!) on finished stamps.  Approve the proof first before the stamp is cast and there’s no going back.  And yes, there’s a fee for this service… but in light of everything you’ve already been through, it’s a pittance.