Getting IDP Hours Without a Job

Given the current state of the economy, it can be difficult to find a job that fulfills the requirements of the Intern Development Program (IDP).  NCARB has realized this and has created some new options for interns.  This allows you to get more of your IDP hours on your own outside of an architecture office.  You’ll still have a lot of requirements to complete once you get into an architecture firm, but at least you can shave of some IDP hours while you’re unemployed or working in another field.   Even if you do have the perfect architecture internship, you can opt to work on these in your free time to finish IDP faster.

Training Requirement D: Related Activities

Yes, you can completely satisfy Training Requirement D, regardless of your employment status. You need 80 hours of professional and community service, and you can do it all outside an architecture office.  A lot of these activities can also bolster your resume and be a great opportunity for networking.  Plus they make you feel good and keep you active in your community.  There are tons of options–the sky’s the limit!

  • Serve on a committee of a professional organization (merely attending meetings or conferences does not count)
  • Volunteer at a food bank or homeless shelter
  • Be a mentor at a local school or participate in other educational programs
  • Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
  • Docent at a museum or architecture foundation
  • Participate in the local zoning board or planning committee
  • Volunteer at an animal shelter
  • Volunteer at a hospital or the Red Cross
  • Join a service organization like Salvation Army, Rotary Club, or Kiwanis

Core Supplementary Education

These hours count for core hours in each of the 16 training categories.  Since they count for core (and not elective) hours, they are a little harder to get.   However, its better to knock these out before elective hours if you have the choice.  You can get a maximum of 600 hours this way, but only 40 from each training category.

The Emerging Professional’s Companion (EPC)

This is an online handbook where you can complete various design-related activities.  A lot of them require you to complete an exercise and then discuss it with your mentor.  Your mentor will then have to sign off that you completed the requirements.  You can get a lot of hours from various categories.  Some of the exercises are very easy.  Some are more involved.  The EPC can be found here.

NCARB’s Professional Conduct Monograph

This consists of reading a handbook and taking an online quiz.  Its very straightforward and should only take a few hours.  You’ll get 16 core hours for Training Area 15–Office Management.  You can access it from My NCARB.

CSI Certification: CCS & CCCA

The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is an organization that has standardized building specifications.  They have a few different certifications that you can test for, including Certified Construction Specifier (CCS) and Certified Construction Contract Adminisrator (CCCA).  You earn 40 hours in Training Area 9–Specifications & Materials Research for the CCS and 40 hours in Training Area 12–Construction Phase Office for the CCCA.  Both of these certifications have a prerequisite known as the CDT (Construction Documents Technologist), which will earn you an additional 40 elective hours (see below).  For more information, check out The Construction Specifications Institute.

Community-Based Design Center/Collaborative

You can earn up to 40 core hours in each of Training Areas 1-15 for building-related community service.  Only a few non-profits qualify, however.  To see if one is in your area, refer to NCARB’s guidlines.

Design Competitions

Participating in design competitions can earn you up to 40 hours in each of Training Areas 1-15.  You have to be properly credited in the competition entry and you have to follow all the competition requirements.  Any competitions completed for academic credit do not count.  Have your mentor sign off on your hours.

Site Visit With Mentor

Visiting construction sites with your mentor can earn you up to 40 hours Training Area 13–Construction Phase Observation.

Elective Supplementary Education

The Emerging Professional’s Companion (EPC): Exercises

You can also earn elective hours from the EPC.  Exercises count for elective hours, while activities count for core hours.

GBCI LEED AP Credential

LEED AP (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional) is an accreditation for professionals with extensive knowledge in sustainable building.  It requires either coursework or experience in sustainability and a two-part exam.  Becoming a LEED AP will give you 40 elective hours.

Advanced Degrees

You can earn 936 elective hours for an advanced degree earned after your first professional degree.  It must be from a college of architecture/design, and it must have an accredited program.

AIA Continuing Education

You can receive IDP credit for completing AIA Continuing Education programs.  There are a number of ways to do this, including taking courses or attending conferences.  You’ll need to set up an AIA number (it’s the same as your AIAS membership number if you have one).  You report your continuing education to AIA, and then you’ll submit your AIA transcript to NCARB to receive your IDP hours.

A really great way to get AIA continuing education is through McGraw Hill’s website.  You get one hour for every quiz you take following reading an article or watching a webinar.  Its free, and there are a ton of courses you can take.

Another way of getting continuing education (and IDP hours) is to do monographs.  Like the Professional Conduct monograph, these consist of a handbook to read and an online quiz.  On My NCARB, there are some full-length monographs for sale and a handful of free mini-monographs.

CSI Certificate Program: CDT

The CSI’s Construction Documents Technologist is another certification that can get you IDP credit.  This one will earn you 40 elective hours.  The CDT is a prerequisite for the more advanced certifications that count for core IDP hours.

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Jimmy April 10, 2012, 3:32 pm

    Hi Michelle,
    Do you know what is the maximum hours/credits that one can get for completing the AIA Continuing Ed programs?

    Thanks for a great article!

  • M.Segna September 9, 2013, 11:19 pm

    I’ve volunteered many hours for a Habitat F.H. foundation to find out that if it not ‘accredited’ it doesn’t count. That is confusing. Then, I’ve served 11 months with Americorps constructing homes, and again, cannot get credit because I received a tiny stipend as ‘volunteer’ to stay alive. It is considered non-profit/volunteer assignment. Can anyone explain that to me, please?!

  • Jeanette January 2, 2014, 12:13 am

    What is the best way to get a mentor when you return to school and are not working? Is it proper to ask a former employee or what is a better option?

Cancel reply

Leave a Comment