At the American Institute of Architect’s recent conference in Atlanta, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) announced that it will begin working with licensing boards to do away with the term “intern architect.” This decision to change the terminology comes from the idea that people with years of experience working in the field should not be labeled with a term many see as pejorative. “The new term?” asked NCARB in a press release. “There isn’t one. Just don’t use ‘intern.’”
To accommodate the change, NCARB said it will update its Model Law and guidelines, but for the word “intern” to officially be stricken from the record, the council’s proposal will have to be considered by the country’s 54 licensing boards and then receive a majority vote at a future NCARB Annual Business Meeting. And even then, the change would not go into effect without a jurisdiction actually adopting it.
Donna Kacmar, a licensed architect, designer, and associate professor at the University of Houston, told AN the proposed change is not all that significant, noting that the label of “intern” is not necessarily a negative one. “When I was an intern I did not think it was a bad thing,” she said. “I was learning and working my way to becoming an architect. I was not overly sensitive about it and I don’t think most students are.”
To Kacmar, there are much bigger issues that NCARB should be dealing with, specifically its complicated procedures, and how it manages oversight of licensure. “[NCARB] forces us to go through all of these hoops—experience categories, and IDP record keeping, and taking the ARE which changes all the time—so we can become a licensed architect." NCARB CEO Mike Armstrong explained to AN that a host of initiatives will further streamline the program over the next few years. “The last few years have seen NCARB substantially move to reduce the complexities of the IDP,” he said in a statement.
The solution, Kacmar added, is not just making the whole process shorter, but prioritizing the education of architectural craft over record keeping. For her, the term, intern architect, is beside the point. “It is about [the process] being made appropriate and I am not sure somebody who is not engaged in the practice of architecture is the best person to make this decision.”