My journey to becoming registered has been a long one. I attended Washington University in St. Louis (B. Arch), took two years to gain some office/built environment experience, then received my M. Arch from Columbia University. After 3 years in a small NYC firm where I was exposed to residential and commercial projects from start to finish, I became eligible to sit for the exams. This was Y2K, and the ARE was still a paper & pencil, 2 - or 3-day intensive exam with 11 divisions. Because there were rumblings about converting to computerized exams, I waited. When the first ARE computerized version was released, there were 9 divisions, and they each cost quite a bit. Between 2002 and 2004, I took and passed 5 of those 9 on the first try. Meanwhile, I had switched over to working for contractors as a "get to know your enemy" tactic, only to find that I enjoyed estimating, coordinating subcontractors, and being in the field far more than being at the drawing board, so to speak. I began to question the need to stay on the path to licensure, and my clock expired. Since then, I've had private clients for interior renovations and worked as a consultant to several architecture/design firms with exposure to a variety of project types: residential, retail, restaurants, and commissary kitchens. The amount of coordinating between MEPs, KECs, lighting designers, and structural engineers on several projects was intense, but always educational. And I can't emphasize enough the value of field experience, whether managing a project for an architect or a contractor.
All of the above experience was in New York City, but I moved to Texas 3 years ago and no longer had a "golden rolodex." (That right there dates me - I'm 49.) I continue to consult remotely for a firm in New York, but I realized that in order to get the jobs I want here, the only basis for credibility I would have would be a license. I purchased 6 seats at the end of October 2018 before the price went up, and then started the new year studying. My first exam was CE on February 2; my last was PDD on June 18. The provisional pass became an official pass this morning.
Nearly 2 decades ago, I exclusively studied the Ballast books with great success, so I returned to the Ballast Review Manual as a broad scope, consolidated resource. Especially helpful were the Ballast Practice Problems and Practice Exams. I'm in a rural area and have to rely on my phone as a hotspot, so any online courses, videos, etc. were out of the question. No Hyperfine, Designer Hacks, Amber, Black Spectacles, etc.; just Ballast and the ARE Handbook Reference Matrix resources. The linked matrix file shows what I did/didn't review for each division. I read all materials for CE, PjM, and PcM twice. For PA, PPD, and PDD, I only reviewed materials once due to the sheer volume of it all.
Experience in the field, working in a mentoring office, and knowing what you don't know... These are all critical to a successful path to licensure, and I'm certain everyone will get there. This forum has been exceptionally helpful and encouraging. Thank you for your contributions.
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