Big changes are in store for the nearly 18,000 people enrolled in the Intern Development Program, administered by the National Council for Architectural Registration Boards. Starting July 1, interns will have additional options for gaining needed training units and will have to meet much tighter deadlines.

Six-Month Rule
The most immediate impact will be the implementation of the new “Six-Month Rule,” which requires interns to submit training units in reporting periods of no longer than six months and within two months of completion of each reporting period. Any units beyond those periods will be lost; however, interns who start a record by June 30 will have a full year to report retroactive experience, according to NCARB.

Lenore Lucey, executive vice president of NCARB, says the new rule is intended to improve the odds of accurate reporting. “What we’ve found is that the longer someone waits, the less likely it is that a firm will be able to verify what [the intern] did,” she adds.

NCARB has recommended that firms include IDP coding on their time sheets to help create a clear record and expedite the process.

IDP 2.0
July also marks the start of the first phase of IDP 2.0, which will expand opportunities for enrollees to gain credits outside an architect’s office. Whether employed or not, interns can earn training units by completing LEED and CSI certification programs. LEED accreditation after July 1 will garner five education training units. CSI Construction Documents Technologist, CSI Certified Construction Specifier, and CSO Certified Construction Contract Administrator certification can each be applied toward five education training units.

AIA-approved continuing education programs can be used to earn supplementary education training units as well. Interns will also be able to earn two training units in office management by passing a quiz on the NCARB Professional Conduct monograph.

Lucey says the new changes are hitting at the right time. “With all of these emerging professionals being laid off because of the recession and not working for architects, there’s been a lot of concern about how can they get more IDP credits,” she says. “This provides an opportunity to keep the process going.”

A second phase of IDP 2.0 will go into effect January 1, 2010. Among the modifications, the 700 training unit requirement will change to a 5,600 training hours requirement, meaning that interns will no longer have to convert hours into units. Contracted employees will also be allowed to earn training units under the new phase. A third and final phase will be implemented in 2011.

Other Issues
In recent years, NCARB has been pushing for more jurisdictions to allow candidates to complete IDP and the Architect Registration Examination concurrently, but Lucey says it has proven challenging. In many cases, she says the process has been slowed because it would require changes to state laws.

IDP has slowly been gaining enrollees in recent years, topping out at nearly 18,000 at the end of 2008. On average, the program takes most enrollees three years to complete. It’s uncertain if the recession has affected enrollment or slowed the program, Lucey says, as NCARB has not yet reported its IDP numbers for this year.