Practice Guidelines

Disclaimer: Practice guidelines provide licensees with general guidance to promote good practice. Law, rules and regulations, not guidelines, specify the requirements for practice and what may constitute professional misconduct.

B. Practice

4. Titles

Many architects confer titles on senior staff to recognize contributions to the firm. The title may be conferred on a firm owner or a non-owner; titles such as "Associate" or "Director of Marketing" or "Chief Draft Person", are frequently conferred on non-licensed individuals.

The State Education Department and the State Board for Architecture believe that appropriate titles may be granted to both licensed and unlicensed employees as long as the title does not imply that an unlicensed title holder is an architect.

"Architect" is a protected title. Only a person licensed in New York can call himself/herself an architect and offer architectural services in New York. Anyone else using the title "architect" may be prosecuted for committing a Class A misdemeanor and for offering to perform architectural services in this State may be charged with a Class E felony.

Similarly, unlicensed persons might also be prohibited from using derivatives of the word "architect" or "architecture" in conjunction with unrestricted titles as this may be viewed as misleading to the public when it is implied that professional services are being offered, e.g., "architectural designer", "interior architecture", etc. The restriction does not apply to the use of such terms in a context unrelated to professional services, such as "architectural supplies", etc.

The Department and the State Board for Architecture view some titles or derivations of certain titles as inappropriate; for instance, corporate titles such as "Vice President" conferred on an unlicensed person may mislead the public into believing that the person is an architect. The title of "Principal" may also be misleading and should not be conferred on an unlicensed person unless other information, explaining that the individual is not licensed, is also used. The title "Director of Architectural Design" is also inappropriate for use by a non-licensee. It is important when selecting titles to make sure that the public will not be confused or led to believe that a Vice President or Principal or Director of Design is a licensee who can offer architectural services, when he/she is not an architect.

Generally, the title "Associate" is acceptable for a non-licensee as long as the employee and the employer do not imply that the associate is an architect. Again, the title Director of Computer Services is acceptable since that title would not confuse the public nor would a title such as Chief Financial Officer.

It is important that when the titled employee is unlicensed that the firm's promotional materials do not imply that the individual practices architecture or provides architectural services. Unacceptable phrases such as:

  • "one of the nation's leading designers"
  • "his/her projects"
  • "the recipient of national awards for design excellence"
  • "among his/her highly regarded hospital designs are"

Acceptable verbiage would be "_____ participated in the planning and design of the award winning hospital under the direction of _____, firm principal."

Graduates may use their degree after their name or may use an American Institute of Architects membership designation properly, "_____, Associate AIA". However, the degree or membership designation may not be used along with promotional materials to imply the user is licensed, when in fact no license has been issued to the individual.

For those who are gaining the architectural work experience required to become eligible for admission to the architecture licensing examination, the use of either "architectural intern" or "intern architect" is acceptable.

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Last Updated: April 15, 2021