Jon Kershner on Licensure and What you Learn Along the Way

Jon Kershner on Licensure and What you Learn Along the Way

Why did you decide to get licensed?
I’ve always known I wanted to get licensed. I decided I was going to be an architect, and that was just part of the process. Seriously, I must have decided to do it when I was 14. Now, after being in the industry for years, I know it opens doors. In a way, getting license is an exercise in self-betterment; you learn a lot during the study process.

What was the most interesting thing you learned?
Studying the AIA contracts was really helpful. It’s important to know how they outline the division of liability and responsibility between the owner, architect and contractor. The owner has a lot more responsibility than I thought. Knowing the legal side of things is empowering.

What study tactics worked best for you?
The David Doucette study materials help a lot. He has a 12 week, 6 days a week, hour a day study program that is ridiculously comprehensive. I didn’t follow that structure exactly, but the materials were great, and taking mock exams were useful. I must have taken a dozen.

My team member Mikki was also taking the test around the same time, and it was good to have someone to talk with about the process. I’m not big on studying in groups, but having someone to check in with meant we both had a little support system. I’d come in and ask, “Did you understand this or that?” and she’d do the same.

Has the process impacted your work in the studio?
The knowledge I gained along the way definitely informs my day-to-day work. It’s not a black and white thing; you learn it for years. I will say studying for the exam gives you a better understanding of the California process. It’s complicated, and there are a lot of agencies and laws to learn that apply directly to the work.

Any tips for folks just getting started?
Don’t rush it. Take your time, but also don’t procrastinate. After finishing the AREs pretty rapidly, I tried to keep up that pace with the CSE, but it’s much more difficult. Just remember that you need more time to prepare for the CSE. 

What did you do afterwards?
I called my mom. After 10 years of working as a designer, I had a huge flood of emotions now that I could finally call myself an architect. It legitimized all of that effort. Seven years of school, four years of internship and seven national exams — licensure is the culmination of a lot of preparation and hard work.