Recently licensed architect Kyle Fischer, AIA, NCARB, shares advice for pursuing licensure and discusses his experience navigating the AXP and the ARE.
Why did you want to become an architect?
I grew up with an interest in drawing and Legos just like any other kid, but I was also extremely into computers. I loved playing games like the Sims and Roller Coaster Tycoon where I could design and program—not that I knew what programming was back then—which was always more fun than playing the game itself. I always tried to understand how things went together or why they should be a certain way; I think that was ultimately what led me to architecture.
How long did it take you to complete your experience and exams? What was your strategy?
I landed my first architectural job at EV&A Associates in September 2014. I was going to school full-time and worked as a graduate assistant, so my hours around the office were pretty slim. After graduating, I began to work full-time and focused all of my efforts on completing the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP). My boss, Edward Vance, FAIA, did a great job helping me through the licensure process and made sure I was getting the hours where they were needed. By January 2017, I was 80 percent complete and decided it was time to start testing. I took roughly one test per month for six and a half months and was sworn in as an architect on October 25, 2017. In all, my path to licensure took just over three years.
How did you stay motivated after facing a setback?
I ended up failing the Project Planning & Design (PPD) division of the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) twice—those were the first and third tests I took. It was extremely discouraging, but I had set a goal to be licensed by the end of the year and I stuck to it. I knew that if I failed again I would have to take a break, so I went ahead and scheduled each of my remaining exams. I thought I was going to pass out while I waited for the results of my third PPD attempt, but the extra studying and exam experience really helped.
You took ARE 5.0—what did you think of the exam format? Any study tips?
I can’t compare the exams to 4.0, but I really liked the format. The case studies were clear and concise, and they really related to everyday practice.
My biggest study tip is to utilize the ARE 5.0 Handbook. The references at the end of each section tell you where to find the information you need and the sample questions give you a feel for the test. I recommend reading through the material and making note cards for any concepts or terminology that are unfamiliar—it really helped me.
How has becoming licensed accelerated your career?
Pushing to get licensed has really opened up a lot of opportunities at the firm. I’m attending more meetings on the job site and having more face-to-face time with our clients. I don’t doubt that these same opportunities would have come up in the future, but obtaining my license has certainly accelerated that.
What advice do you have for candidates going through the licensure process?
You will always be too tired, and you will never have enough time. It might sound like a negative or pessimistic thing to say, but the sooner you accept it, the sooner you will stop using time and energy as an excuse. Schedule your exams and start studying. Today is just as good as any other day.
Kyle Fischer is a designer at EV&A Architects in Las Vegas, Nevada.