3 exams expiring simultaneously due to 4.0/5.0 transition


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    David Kaplan


    A bit of a different experience here, not totally, but thought I’d offer it to you anyway.

    I started my license path in 4.0 probably 9 years ago.  I took CDS, PPP, then took a couple years off due to sheer laziness, and ended up taking BDCS and BS as well.  I passed all 4 and was well on my way to getting it done.  Then, laziness and procrastination set in, and I just let it all sit there.  I was scared to take the Site Planning test after hearing so many people tell me that the graphic vignette was very difficult, and I was annoyed at the thought of having to take a Structures test which I felt ideologically was not something a licensed architect needed to know and be tested on.  This and the fact that at my office, I’d been running large projects for several years very successfully and without my license, and our office is set up that even with my license, it was still going to remain my boss’s stamp on all drawings.  I began to let annoyance with the whole ARE set in, and I said to myself that things weren’t going to change for me at work even if I did this.  I just said screw it.  Long story short – I let all 4 tests lapse to my rolling clock. 

    Fast forward to 2017.  I’m now married with two kids and I’ve been at the same office, running the same large projects for important clients, for 13 years. I began to see people in my office, even those that had less years there than I did, get more responsibility because they were licensed.  And I began to wonder if my clients knew that I wasn’t licensed.  Now, I will say this: I don’t believe that one has to be licensed in order to work in this field (other than of course being able to stamp a set of drawings).  It is very common for firms to be set up the way mine is where the head boss holds the liability/stamps the drawings and others just work for them.  As such, not having my license, to me, didn’t disqualify me or make me any less capable of doing solid work in the field of architecture.  I knew as well that clients I worked for were very happy with me and we had developed a very strong rapport.  But I began to get worried about the issue coming up in field.  What if I was on a job site with a huge, important client and someone were to casually ask me, “Dave – you’re licensed right?”  Or, what if our firm was in an interview for a project, and I’m sitting there with my bosses and they’re telling these people that I am going to be the Project Manager for this job.  What if those people ask right then and there, “Dave – are you licensed?”  This situation ended up never happening to me, but it would have been very, very awkward if it had, and I often wonder if those clients would have called my office and said, “why is a non-licensed architect running our project?” even though as I said before, a lack of a license does NOT mean you’re not qualified. 

    I would sit and remember how annoyed I was about having to relearn Structures and take a test on it, but that annoyance went away and was replaced with annoyance at my current situation.  I felt like I had no leverage in my field.  Even things like asking for raises or asking for a promotion – I felt like my office could hang the fact that I wasn’t licensed over my head and use that as a way of saying, “we’ll give you all those things but first you need to pass those tests.” 

    And this might sound odd, but not having my license affected my personal life.  Every time I thought about taking up some sort of hobby or devoting a large amount of time to an activity, I ended up saying to myself, “if you have time for this, you have time to study for your tests” and as a result, I didn’t do those things either. 

    The point is, that little devil named the ARE on my shoulder wouldn’t shut up, it kept telling me to get my license.  October of 2017, when ARE 4.0 was still around and you could do the combo method, I signed up to retake CDS and PPP again.  I told my wife that once the kids went to bed, I was studying.  We worked it out just fine and I plowed through those two tests without issue.  I then switched to 5.0 and took PA, PPD, and PDD – passing all three.  March of 2018 – I was licensed.

    I went into my office with a new lease on life.  I got that promotion.  I got that raise.  And I now no longer worry about clients or interviews anymore.  I now feel that I can sit down with my bosses and talk to them about my future, having completed this final task.  And in my personal life, I don't feel like I have some huge thing hanging over my head anymore that keeps me from doing other, fun things that I've always wanted to try. 

    I say to you this – I understand that you’re annoyed with this whole process right now and that you find yourself struggling with the test format, several failures, and the time/money you are devoting to this.  But before you make the decision to just forgo this whole thing, make sure that you can truly live with it.  As much as you are beginning to wonder about why you are doing this, I sat there for 5 years watching the world pass me by and began to wonder “why am I NOT doing this” and I finally said “to hell with it, let’s do this.” 

    Best of luck!

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