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How Long Does it Take to Become an Architect?

 
 
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Have you ever wondered how long it takes to become an architect? One complaint we always hear about the field of architecture is how long it takes to actually become licensed to perform work as an architect. Well good news! To become an architect in other countries you may only need a degree for a university.

The graph below is from a 2013 study on the length of time it takes to become an architect in a variety of countries throughout the world (SOURCE).

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Here’s some thoughts on this data.

The United States and China both have the longest architectural licensing processes in the world.
The length of time taken to receive an architectural license SHOULD directly correlate with the safety of having that architect out in the world designing our future buildings. The more direct experience someone has within the field of architectural practice before they become licensed, the better they know the industry and the better they can keep the general public safe and happy. This is the main reason the licensing process is so long within our highly specialized field.

In at least five countries, the practice of architecture is not regulated by licensure.
(The Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland)
While this doesn’t necessarily mean you, as a reader, can go design a building in Norway, it does effectively lower the bar of entry in these countries. Honestly, this surprised us at AKA because when you look at those five countries, the themes that immediately come to mind are early-adopters, trend-setters, engineering prowess, and efficiency. Could this mean that by eliminating requirements we open up design to a wider pool of designers who then innovate more because of their liberation?

Will countries with a faster licensing path put their architects at a greater advantage?
If countries can pump out architects faster because their standards of education and licensing are lower, does that mean their architects are less qualified to do work in other countries? Does a longer education and licensing system consistently produce more qualified architects that are better prepared for the work they do? Will the future of a global market demand standardization on a global scale for architectural licensing? If yes, will that standardization be relegated to the minimum licensing requirements, thereby diluting the experience and expertise of architects everywhere?

Directive for a Global Architect:
The EU currently has an “Architect’s Directive” which they utilize to legally qualify an architect for countries within the EU. The Directive effectively standardizes architectural experience requirements. The EU’s Directive is listed below.

In the future we think it will become important to have the same form of Directive for a global architect. Otherwise, how do we know someone to be qualified to design a building? How are we confident that a particular architect has the skill set to keep the general public safe within the built environment when they’re outside their country of licensure?

How do we as a global people advocate for better design and better buildings when our standards are non-existent and constantly changing in each of our 195 countries?


The 11 Points of the EU Architect’s Directive

  1. The ability to create architectural designs that satisfy both aesthetic and technical requirements.

  2. The adequate knowledge of the history and theories of architecture and the related arts, technologies and human sciences.

  3. The knowledge of the fine arts as an influence on the quality of architectural design.

  4. The adequate knowledge of urban design, planning and the skills involved in the planning process.

  5. The understanding of the relationship between people and buildings, and between buildings and their environment, and of the need to relate buildings and the spaces between them to human needs and scale.

  6. The understanding of the profession of architecture and the role of the architect in society, in particular in preparing briefs that take account of social factors

  7. The understanding of the methods of investigation and preparation of the brief for a design project.

  8. The understanding of the structural design, constructional and engineering problems associated with building design.

  9. The adequate knowledge of physical problems and technologies and of the function of buildings so as to provide them with internal conditions of comfort and protection against the climate.

  10. The necessary design skills to meet building users’ requirements within the constraints imposed by cost factors and building regulations.

  11. The adequate knowledge of the industries, organizations, regulations and procedures involved in translating design concepts into buildings and integrating plans into overall planning.