I’ve Finally Made It! (Not Really)

Posted on November 14, 2012


I’ve made it to the big time everyone. I was interviewed by NCARB for their website on the process of becoming a licensed architect. You can read it here. It was a cool thing to be able to do and I hope it’s something that will give some insight into why I’m going through this whole long ordeal and why others should as well. NCARB is trying to get out the message of why licensure is important for people either looking at becoming architects or those who have neglected to go through with it. I don’t disagree with them either. Unfortunately, I wasn’t given the response length I would have loved to have to really dive into my thoughts on architecture as a whole, but hey…that’s why I started this website!

In other news, I just took my Structural Systems exam yesterday so hopefully I only have two more exams left! I didn’t come out of the exam feeling super confident, but I felt ok about it, which is on par with most of the other exams I’ve taken (fingers crossed). I have my last two exams scheduled in the next two months (Building Systems and Construction Documents and Services) and hopefully soon I will get to join the club of licensed architects…they’ll never know what hit ’em.

I’ve copied over the text from my interview on the NCARB website below, if clicking the link above feels like too much effort.


Benjamin Dockter, LEED AP, plans to make his future in architecture count. Nearly finished with licensure requirements, Dockter reflects upon his journey to become an architect and considers the role of architects in improving the greater good.

What made you decide to pursue a career as an architect?
I’ve always been very interested in creating things. LEGOs were a huge part of my childhood, as was sketching out “dream houses” with secret rooms and cool hidden features. Going into architecture was just a continuation of the things that always interested me. When I applied to colleges, I was accepted to the art program at one university and the architecture program at another. I ended up choosing architecture simply because I thought I would be able to work on a grander scale with my creativity.

Have you had to overcome any obstacles in order to reach your career goals?
There’s such a huge difference between what architecture is like in college and what it’s like in the “real world.” Figuring out my place in the profession, what goals I should have, and how to meet them have been my biggest challenges.

What’s made a positive difference in your professional journey?
I’ve been lucky to know a couple of experienced architects outside of work. I’m able to go to them with problems/questions and get an outside opinion. However, the best support I have received is from people going through the same experiences as me. People who are at the same stage in their career or slightly ahead are much more likely to sympathize and find ways to help you reach your goals.

Why do you plan to get licensed?
For me, licensure is the final step in recognizing the legitimacy of my career. Until I’m licensed, I will still feel like a lesser part of the profession. Being licensed puts you on the same playing field as everyone else. You have struggled through school, internship, and exams to finally be recognized as a professional in your career. Becoming an architect is the starting point to everything else I hope to achieve in my architectural career.

What’s your plan for finishing your licensure requirements?
I’ve completed the IDP, passed four exams so far, and have the last three scheduled. For me, the trick has been to schedule my exams about a month apart so it forces me to keep my head down and study.

What advice would you offer others on completing licensure requirements?
To make the most out of your experiences, you need to be a pest and a sponge. Don’t expect your boss to regularly ask you if you want to tag along for site visits. If you want to do something, be vocal about it and never stop. You also need to ask lots of questions and learn as much as you can about everything. The more you know, and the faster you’re able to take on more responsibility, the higher you will go.

When it comes to taking the ARE, the best advice I can give is to find and use all the resources available, get a support group, and simply keep your head down and power through.

How do you plan to make your future count?
I’m slowly learning how to break down and reinvent what it is to be a modern architect. I don’t want to look back on a career of nothing but status quo buildings. I want to be able to truly improve people’s lives through thoughtful design and critical thought about the built environment.

Do you have any advice for young people considering a career in architecture?
While it’s important for architects to design buildings that keep users safe and healthy, we should also build to inspire and awe. We should build to encourage interaction and generosity. We should build to improve the lives of those who inhabit our spaces, not just keep them from falling down stairs. Architecture used to be about a greater good. That’s something we need to remember.

My advice to those considering a career in architecture would be to really look at what it’s like to become an architect and do it because you love it.

Benjamin Dockter, LEED AP is currently an intern architect at Allied Design Consultants in Springfield, IL. He graduated with a B.S. in Architectural Studies and an M. Arch. from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Dockter blogs about architecture at https://architectinperson.wordpress.com.  

Posted in: Architects