Professional Organizations for Architects
- American Institute of Architects
- American Institute of Architecture Students
- Society of American Registered Architects
- National Organization of Minority Architects
- American Society of Landscape Architects
It’s important for architects to belong to a professional organization that can connect them to developments and peers in the broader field. Whether you prefer to network within a narrow specialization or are looking for ways to plug into trends and conversations at the national level, these five organizations can offer professional support and opportunities for your career.
One of the oldest and best-known organizations, the AIA has been supporting architects since 1857. With over 90,000 members, AIA is a major guiding force in shaping the field through its mission and its values. Members agree to adhere to a set of ethical standards that keep the industry’s reputation strong, and members play a role in shaping and revising this code as new technological and political advancements continue to challenge the role of architecture in the modern world. Topical areas of focus including equity, climate, immigration, and sustainability become rotating subjects for members to connect and work towards as a unit. Annual conferences and smaller regional gatherings provide opportunities to network, problem solve, and share innovations that keep members informed and inspired.
While the major professional associations tend to focus on ongoing challenges in the field and connecting working professionals, this organization is tailored to up and coming young architects who have not yet finished their education. Student members have a two-fold mission: to support architecture students in developing appreciation of the discipline and establish community connections, and to promote excellence in architecture education by serving as a student voice in policy decisions in both the AIA and the National Accrediting Board. They support both domestic and international academic programs, and pursue outreach programming as well. Their emphasis on members as “good citizens” and mix of annual and regional conferences prepares students to succeed within the larger AIA framework after graduation.
This smaller organization is guided by a single premise: architect helping architect. That attention to personal and direct connections for a practical goal can be seen in everything the society does. They welcome members from any part of the building and design industry as long as they are licensed architects, because they believe better solutions can be found when members talk across traditional lines drawn by specializations. Publications like the bimonthly newsletter keep members up to date with upcoming events, competitions, and developments within the profession. Their unique referral service provides a special value for members in addition to standard conference and networking offerings.
A standout in the field due its volunteer membership structure, NOMA was formed to showcase and advocate for design professionals who come from marginalized or underrepresented minority groups. Their mission is to support their members through increasing visibility, providing networking and support opportunities through publications and conferences, and to respond to concerns of the communities by championing the diversity of their members. They have a strong voice impacting public policy and give members a structure in which to work with local, state and national governments to enact change within their own communities and the broader architectural world.
If your experience and interest in architecture centers around using the natural and built environments that define communities, this may be the professional organization for you. With over 15,000 licensed members in the United States, the society focuses its mission on sustainability and prides itself as a leader in education and promotion of green infrastructure. In addition to its advocacy and education arms, the society provides members with publications that increase communication about ongoing projects, trends, and challenges in the field. Members also have the option to attend annual meetings and Expos for continuing education, networking and research sessions.
Related Resource: 5 Great Careers in Architecture
As a new architect just starting in the field, you’ll need help networking and opportunities to continue to grow your skills, according to Life of an Architect. Experienced professionals will want to seek out opportunities to lead, to drive the field and shape the future beyond your individual work. These professional organizations for architects were founded to meet those professional development needs, and to connect members at any career stage with the resources you require.