No term of endearment: the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has decided to formally stop referring to non-licensed architects as “interns.” 

The title has been used to differentiate between architects who have completed all necessary licensing requirements to practice and those who haven’t. The moniker is understood to be unfavorable, NCARB says, and does not accurately reflect the work these designers contribute to their firms.

Said the organization’s president Dale McKinney in a statement released at the American Institute of Architects convention May 14 in Atlanta: “[Intern] has become a term that has been perceived as negative by many in the architecture community and a term that really does not fully value the work that aspiring architects bring to the profession.”

The organization created its Future Title Task Force last year to address the issues surrounding titles in the field of architecture. The result of months of deliberation between practitioners—both licensed and not—was that no attribution should be given to those pursuing licensure.

“Architects are those who have met all the requirements to become licensed in states and jurisdictions throughout the United States. Everyone else is not an architect,” said McKinney. “But their status doesn’t need a regulatory title such as ‘intern’ or any similar reference."

Becoming a licensed architect does not happen quickly; years of experience at a firm may be essential preparation in addition to mandatory requirements for accreditation. A typical internship in other industries lasts less than a year and is reserved for students and recent graduates to acquire on-the-job skills in an effort to find fulltime employment. This differs vastly from designers hired by architecture firms for several years, often acting as project managers and taking on responsibilities reserved for senior members of staff. This disparity was what the NCARB task force sought to address.

NCARB is planning a series of initiatives that will change its guidelines. If voted on favorably by a majority of licensing boards (the United States has 54), “intern” could be removed entirely from its lexicon. For the time being, NCARB says it will stop using the term on its own correspondence and will likely change the name of its Intern Development Program (IDP).