Sojourn Of A Nigerian Architect in Canada #6 | Canadian Education
It’s almost a year and a half since I wrote my first post on this series – Sojourn of a Nigerian Architect in Canada. This is the 6th post in the series and I will be sharing valuable experiences with foreign-trained architects aspiring to come to Canada or those already here trying to navigate their way towards licensure. I am always excited to read and respond to comments on every post on this blog.
In my last post –Sojourn of a Nigerian Architect in Canada #5, I spoke about my registration as an intern architect with the Alberta Association of Architects (AAA) and my full membership of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (RAIC) which was made possible by simply getting certified by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). Today, this post will discuss my new experiences and wisdom since the last post.
In July, I took and passed the LEED Green Associate test. The LEED Green Associate credential designates individuals who have a documented, up-to-date understanding of the most current green building principles and practices. With a growing demand for energy-efficient buildings in Canada, architectural firms now prioritize LEED credentialed individuals over non-credentials ones. The LEED Green Associate test can be taken anywhere in the world where there is a Prometric test centre and it cost US$ 250.
In addition to LEED Green associate, there is the advanced certification called LEED (AP) Accredited Professional. The LEED AP credential signifies an advanced depth of knowledge in green building practices; it also reflects the ability to specialize in a particular LEED Rating System.
To learn more about the benefits of LEED certifications to architects and designers read my articles LEED by example.
Changing my CACB Provisional status to Full
One major task I am currently undertaking since receiving my provisional certification from the CACB is undertaking the outstanding course outlined in the letter notifying me of my certification status. I was required to take and pass a post-graduate course called Architectural Practice Management at Athabasca University (AU). Luckily, it’s an online course.
For those curious to know what led to my provisional status, I was informed by CACB that my School course calendar (prospectus) omitted the details (course description) of just one course (Professional Practice II) and therefore, CACB’s assessment committee couldn’t ascertain the course description and details of what was taught there-in. CACB however gave me time to provide the missing document but I guessed the information I provided (2019 prospectus) wasn’t sufficient enough.
Just to verify CACB’s position, I did take out my school prospectus to read the course description as contained within and it simply said: Professional Practice II – “Continues from Professional Practice I”. My great Unilag!
I am currently enrolled to take the course – Architectural Practice Management through the RAIC-syllabus programme with the AU. The maximum time offered by AU to complete the course is six months and it can be completed within a shorter time if you devote a lot of time to study. The course cost is CAD$1,540 (2020 fees), kindly refer to the AU website for the current price.
I would recommend this course to all internationally trained architects because it empowers you with an in-depth knowledge of the practice and management of architecture and its application in Canada. Despite being licensed in Nigeria, I found this knowledge invaluable. Unfortunately, you can’t take the course without a referral from the CACB, you will have to take the entire program.
Since this may be impractical, ensure you get the Canadian Handbook of Practice (CHOP) for Architects and read it. You must if you seek to pursue licensure.
I am sure you have heard people say that without Canadian experience or education, most job applicants in Canada face a hard time in securing the jobs of their dreams, even though this doesn’t apply to all jobs and all applicants, it now appears to be true to me. A few are lucky but most aren’t. You will need to improve yourself or sharpen your skills to stay ahead and I am no exception.
My recent advice to immigrants architects is that when you get to Canada keep an open mind for other profitable jobs where you can apply your skills and experience, for example, roles as project managers and coordinators, facility and space planners etc.
As an internationally trained architect seeking to pursue an intern architect job and thereafter licensure here, you must quickly realize that you are competing with Canada and other globally-trained contemporaries, who either attended some of the best schools in Canada and in the world and/or have the latest certifications and skill set required in architecture.
Only an edge will shift the odds in your favour. If you are among the lots who needs this favour (just like myself) the easiest way to acquire it is by either;
- Canadian experience or
- Canadian education or
- Canadian connection, network and referees
Why Canadian experience is preferred is because these experiences are trusted and easy to verify, however, experiences from other first world countries and international multinationals companies can give an edge. For Canadian education, the same thing applies, education from the USA and a few first world countries too gives an edge. This is understandable because of the quality of education rendered, the similarity in the way architecture is practiced, similar weather conditions, building material and construction methods, building codes, drafting standards, etc. Nevertheless, if you are very good but without either the Canadian experience or education and have a respected industry professional here in Canada who is willing to chip in a good word for you or stand as a referee, then you may just have as much if not a better chance of getting your dream job.
A respected industry professional’s recommendation is priceless here, LinkedIn is the best place to start connecting with these professionals even before landing here, it’s often not enough to connect but go further to initiate conversions, humbly request short appointments/meetings over coffee if possible and expand your network.
If you are among those of us who wonder how our professional abilities can be fully assessed when we haven’t done relevant work in our field here or at least schooled here, then maybe you should consider schooling.
Schooling here improves your chances of getting a good job. It is one of the easiest ways because on completion of your schooling you acquire Canadian education, while at it you make friends with instructors, professors and colleagues to acquire Canadian references/connections and for those whose academic programs have practicum placements, they also get relevant Canadian experience.
In light of these, I had to examine the major architectural programs in tertiary institutions around me and settle for one. These were the programs I identified;
- University of Calgary – Doctor of Design
- University of Calgary – PhD of Environmental Design
- University of Calgary – Master of Environmental Design
- University of Calgary – Masters of Architecture
- Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) – Diploma in Architectural technologies
You can find more information on post-graduate architectural programs in other Canadian cities.
I settled for the SAIT program – Diploma in Architectural Technologies because it provides both the foundational and practical knowledge/skills needed in architecture. I didn’t want another fully-theoretical course, I prefer to be hands-on this time. It’s a 2-year program, cost CAD$ 5,847 per year for permanent residents (but CAD$ 18,190 for international students). It can be funded by taking a student loan or out of pocket. I start off in January 2021 but due to COVID, it will be online.
What about architectural jobs?
Still applying, no outcome yet. My recent advice to immigrants architects is that when you get to Canada keep an open mind for other profitable jobs where you can apply your skills and experience, for example, roles as project managers and coordinators, facility and space planners etc.
I will keep updating my blog to keep you updated. You can also let me know what your experiences are if you are on the same journey or plan to take this route in the future.
I wish you all the best in your architectural pursuit. Feel free to leave your comments, share this article and subscribe for more blog posts. You could also reach me through LinkedIn.