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How achievable is it to open up my own architecture firm?

I am a woman who plans on being a licensed architect with a Master's degree, and also plans to have a home and children. How difficult would it be to open my own firm? How will debt come in to the equation, and how long would it take? #architecture #architect #architecture-and-planning #math #physics #mathematical-physics

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Catherine’s Answer

It is quite achievable. It also depends on what kind of architecture you plan on doing. For single family residential and up to 5 units, you do not need a license. If you plan on doing more than 5 unit housing and commercial work, you will need your license. What state are you in? There are a few states that require additional testing for the area. California is one of them. There is also something called the intern development program where you track areas you need to work in to be able to start taking your exams. Its been over 10 years since I started my journey, so you will need to check to see how much school and work is required before you are eligible to start taking your exams. The intern development program will have you exposed to a firm and the process of getting a project from design to construction. You are taught the project management required for this. BUT owning your own firm has business related to it. Being business savvy is a HUGE plus because schools don't really teach this at all. I worked for a coworker who went out on his own after working in firms for 7+ years or so. A lot of time and late nights were definitely a part of his work day. I left his firm after 5 years and its been almost 8 and he is up to 5-7 people in his firm now. It is achievable!

Catherine recommends the following next steps:

Think about what kind of architecture you would like to do. Like I said, if you only want to do single family residential and up to 5 housing units, you can do this without a license.
If you plan on getting your license, find firms that resonate with your design style and keep track of them to see if they have openings for people at your experience level. AIA is a great website to find jobs.
Take business classes! Like I said, architecture school is not heavy in the business side. You will need to know how to run it. Marketing, profit and loss etc.
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Nicole’s Answer

I am a current third-year architecture student and I am taking a class that gives a more in-depth look into the business side of architecture firms. What I have learned so far is that being an architect is a long process and to become licensed takes even longer after architecture school. Several exams are needed to become licensed which are costly but probably worth the money in the long run.

When thinking about opening your own firm, you will need experience and it would be best to become licensed or have a business partner who is licensed. Opening your own firm will be more of a hands-on experience, you will have more control and responsibilities.

Nicole recommends the following next steps:

Gain experience from working with another firm
Think about becoming a licensed architect (if you want a range of opportunities for your firm)
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