Unlike in Indonesia, where the government manages all licenses for highly skilled professions, almost all professions in the US require some sort of license from independent institutions. Indonesian architects have attempted to develop an organization similar to the licensing institution in the US. This organization is called Ikatan Arsitek Indonesia (IAI). However, IAI only manages the licensing requirement and still falls short from being a licensing institution, as you will discover below. Let me now show you the paths leading to licensing comparing the US and Indonesia route.
To be an architect in the US, you can either take the 5 year B.Arch program or the 4+2 program (4-year Bachelor degree majoring in architecture + 2-year M.Arch program). After finishing your education, you would need at least 3 years to complete the IDP (Intern Development Program) under a licensed mentor before you could take the ARE (Architect Registration Examination) to get your license. You do not have to finish the entire education requirement to work as an intern. A 4-year bachelor degree with a major in architecture is enough for you to work at an architecture office as a designer. In fact, most graduate programs prefer you to have a couple of years of work experience before applying.
The 5-year B.Arch program offers the fastest way to get licensed. However, not a lot of schools offer this program. Most architecture schools in the US offer the 4+2 program. Thus, most US architects have master’s degrees. The main difference between the two degrees is that a master’s degree would offer more opportunities to teach in a higher education setting, while a B.Arch degree will probably only give you opportunities to practice as an architect.
I went through the 4+2 route because I believe that it will give me a more complete education. And because I know that I will need recommendation letters from my professor for graduate school application, I applied to a small college that offers architecture program. Getting to know your professor and vice versa is important if you want to get good recommendations. Unlike Indonesian universities where grade is all that matters, US schools want to know about you as a person. So, recommendation letters from people who had taught you can sometimes be the most important part of your graduate application, aside from portfolio.
For those of you who are planning to go back to Indonesia after finishing your studies to become an architect, you need to prove that you have at least 5 years of architecture education and 2 years of internship under a licensed mentor before you are allowed to take the exam. If you only want to study for a bachelor degree in the US, you would need to take an extra 1-year Pendidikan Profesi Arsitektur (PPAr) at one of the ten Indonesian universities that offers the program.
However, if you go back to Indonesia with a B.Arch/M.Arch, you do not need to take the extra 1-year PPAr and can go straight to complete your 2-year internship. You may finish your internship in the US and then go back to Indonesia, but you still need to fill in the logbook required by the IAI (Ikatan Arsitek Indonesia) and be under a licensed mentor either in Indonesia or in the US.
IAI only manages the licensing requirements. For the actual licensing itself, you will need to send an application to the Ministry of Human Resources (Kementrian Tenaga Kerja dan Transmigrasi). IAI does not have any reciprocity with US NAAB (National Architectural Accrediting Board) or NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards), but I doubt that you will have trouble with your US degrees or experiences when you go back to Indonesia.
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