The Architectural Experience Program (AXP), formerly known as the Intern Development Program (IDP), is a program by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards that facilitates Architectural Licensure. Candidates need to achieve their “three Es” – Education, Experience, and Examination – to become licensed professionals.
Six professional experience areas correlate to the six tests of the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE). These areas include Practice Management; Project Management; Programming and Analysis; Project Planning and Design; Project Development and Documentation; and Construction and Evaluation. When working as an entry-level employee, it can be difficult for a candidate to earn experience in the Practice Management, Project Management, and Construction and Evaluation categories since these tasks are usually completed by higher level staff.
It is important for an architectural firm to support candidates through the AXP since these candidates are the future of the profession. Too often candidates become derailed from their path to licensure, for a variety of reasons, and it can be very difficult to get back on track. Candidates are more likely to pursue licensure if their firms support their progress. Employing licensed architects can give a firm a competitive edge in project pursuits. Firms could even lower liability insurance costs when the staff working on projects are licensed as well as experienced.
Array’s leadership has made many efforts to help candidates earn experience in these areas. For Construction Management hours, candidates are invited to join project architects on construction site visits and punch lists. On a scheduling level, entry-level staff are given opportunities to be Construction Administration support on jobs rather than relying on one main Construction Administrator for the job.
To help build Practice Management hours, continuous improvement efforts throughout the firm extend to all staff with twice-weekly office huddles and monthly staff meetings across all offices. Additionally, candidates gain experience in Project Management by having open discussions with Array’s leadership about AIA contracts, project fee structures and staffing.
Not only does Array support candidates by providing a platform to gain experience, the firm also provides time off to take exams, reimburses test fees, and provides study materials for the ARE.
Firms can use their support of the AXP to both market new candidates and diversify themselves in the job market. By actively supporting their staff’s professional development, firms are often able to retain a higher percentage of candidates. Happier staff equals a more productive staff, which also means higher profitability for a firm. It’s a win-win all around.
This post was written by Adam Valone, a former Array employee.