Architect: What’s in a Title?

What’s in a job title?

I am not looking for a job. I really enjoy working for my current firm.

'architect' jobs according to LinkedIn
‘architect’ jobs according to LinkedIn

However, like any good social networker, I maintain my LinkedIn profile. Because I am open to connections, weekly I get emails on current job postings that might be available to me, like the ones in the image. This email contained five jobs I might be interested in.

Of those 5 jobs, only one requires an:

“Undergraduate degree in Architecture, Interior Design… Knowledge of building codes and specifications, barrier-free design consideration, etc.” Surprisingly, it’s the one job listed that doesn’t have ‘Architect’ in it’s title.

I’m intrigued by the notion that many other careers are utilizing the term ‘Architect’ in their job titles.

A ‘Solutions Architect’ is an IT person. Required skills include “5+ year’s progressive experience within an information technology environment.”

An ‘IT Architect’ needs to have a “Minimum of three years in-depth experience designing and implementing information solutions.”

The preferred skills of a  ‘Business Architect’ include “The ability to act as liaison conveying information needs of the business to IT and data constraints to the business; applies equal conveyance regarding business strategy and IT strategy, business processes and work flow automation, business initiatives and IT initiatives, and benefit realization and service delivery.”

A ‘Software Architect’ requires a degree in “BA/BS in Computer Science or Software Engineering (or equivalent); MS desirable.”

What’s in a title?

What goes into the Ontario Architects’ Association (OAA) or the other provincial governing bodies’ professional title ‘Architect?’

  • A 4-year honours degree in arts or science.
  • A 2 to 3.5-year masters degree in Architecture.
  • 2.75 years or 5600 hours of Internship under a licensed architect. (That has recently changed to 3750)
  • 7 Architectural Registration Exams (NCARB system) or 3 days worth of Examination for Architects in Canada (ExAC)

By the time we actually get licensed as an architect, most Interns feel like they’ve earned it. I’m still earning it. It’s a similar process with most professional designations: engineering, medical doctors, lawyers, accountants. Get degrees, complete internships, write exams, get licensed under their professional governing body.

Traditionally Architect means Master Builder, referring to the tradesmen who actually built the historical buildings we see today. The industry segmented into two streams: designer and constructor. Architect went to designers, so in a sense, it means Master Designer.

Ironically, most positions that pertain to architects in the construction industry aren’t called Architects. They’re either ‘Project Managers,’ or ‘Designers,’ or ‘Chief Design Excellence Officer.’ It’s the other jobs that insist on calling them Architects.

Why Architect?

Architects, like many other professional designations, is a term with some prestige. They have fought against people using the title who haven’t earned it. It actually went through the legal system, where they ruled (I paraphrase) as long as the title doesn’t refer to someone in the construction industry, they can to use it. So, the governing bodies only go after people misusing the title in the construction industry.

I watched a web designer present us his version of architecture: the framework for the websites he created. He, like video game developers and set designers, create whole worlds. He is the master builder in his neck of the world-wide web, or the fictional planet, or the space ship. Video game software often has better rendering programs that surpass what we use in the construction industry. However, it feels unfair to anyone that has gone through the licensing process.

The thing is, I get it. I understand that desire to give your job a little more meaning in the title. As a fiction writer, I create worlds for my characters. Only, I don’t need a license to do that. Some writers may argue that we need licenses (i.e. grammar police), but thankfully we don’t have to write grammar exams. But I also understand if, as an Intern, l misrepresent as a licensed architect, my professional body will penalize me.

One day (soon) I will be licensed. Maybe then I will update my brand to include the title ‘Architect’ Until then, I will simply remain ‘Writer. Designer. Creator.’ In the mean time, what do you think? Should we be more careful about our titles? Or does it even matter? If you are a professional in another field, does your governing body go after those who misuse their title?

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2 Replies to “Architect: What’s in a Title?”

  1. Title protection matters.

    The non-construction use of “architect” for job titles is irritating, but I just keep telling the IT people that “I’m a REAL architect.”

    On the other hand, title protection in construction-related jobs is essential. If we don’t protect the use of the title Architect, and those who use it do things that aren’t right, it makes us all look bad. I wrote recently about a good example of someone calling himself an architect, and a journalist referring to him as an architect, but he’s not:

    http://lizosullivanaia.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/what-do-architects-not-do/

    Like

    1. Thanks for your comment Liz! I agree that we should make sure that we protect our title, especially within our industry. I just couldn’t help noticing that ‘Architect’ jobs on job sites aren’t architectural and ones that are are listed as ‘Project Managers’. It seems like a down-grade to our skill-set with that kind of title, like anyone could just get a corporate project management certification and do our job for us.

      Like

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