The Architect: Part I

by Tim Alatorre

I have been struggling with the California Architect’s Board (CAB) for the last 6 months or so to have my work experience recorded correctly so that I can take the California Supplemental Exam (CSE) as my final step in getting my Architects licence.  It has been a very frustrating process dealing with the Sacramento bureaucracy, but finally, with the help of Mike who handles the CSE applications, I have applied to take this final test in a long line of tests.

The road to becoming a licensed Architect is a long one.  The requirements vary from state to state, but generally they require an intership, a certain number of years of education, completing a series of nine NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) exams (is now reduced to seven), and in California, passing an oral examination in front of a panel of three licensed Architects.

The ArchitectWe endure this agonizing process for one simple reason, we want people to know we are an Architect and we want to call ourselves an Architect.  Really, I think it all comes down to ego.  I’ve been designing buildings and drafting plans for years; I ran my own housing plan business for a number of years and have worked under the direction of other Architects for almost a decade.  For all intents and purposes I have been an Architect for the last decade, but I can’t legally call myself one and there are certain things I can’t do without the stamp of a licensed Architect.  I know many great designers and “architects” who are not licensed and will never be licensed, they work in an Architecture firm and perform all the functions of an Architect.  Frank Loyd Wright is a famous example, although the practicalities of some of his structural and waterproofing details may have been aided by a licence, or not.

I have the potential of taking the CSE in November of this year if there is an opening, and IF I pass (big if, 50% pass rate) then I can call myself an Architect.  Will the thousands of dollars and years of my life be worth it?

What do you think?


About the Author


Tim Alatorre