Sunday, November 28, 2004

I did the's not pretty

It’s that time of year again, to decide whether or not I will renew my AIA (American Institute of Architects) membership. The AIA has a fee system that requires you to pay for National, State, and Local chapter fees. All three. Not just one or two. In a profession where pay equity with other professions is sorely lacking, I find this ridiculous.

For the combined National, State, and Local chapter fees; and some ambiguous “past due balance,” my total comes to $666.00, exactly. I kid you not. Ignoring the satanic associations, that means I am paying $222.00, per letter, to put the title “AIA” behind my name on my resume, business cards, etc.

Let me take you on a journey where I break down the fees for each chapter, what each chapter does for me, and how much I am in the hole.

National Chapter
The National chapter acts as my Continuing Education (hereafter called CE) bookkeeper, which I could just as easily do on my own. ($0)
While my State licensing board only requires me to have 8 hours of CE per year, being an esteemed member of AIA means I need to have an additional 10 hours of CE. I can get most of these hours, for free, through product luncheons that the vendors offer. ($0)
What I can’t get through product luncheons, or through the State’s yearly convention, I can get through the AIA’s magazine- by filling out a self-report form and paying $10 per CE hour.
As of right now, I have met- and exceeded- the State’s CE yearly requirements. ($0)
According to AIA, however, I still need 4 more CE hours. Since the State convention has come and gone, I will need to get the remainder of my CE hours through the magazine. ($40)
The National chapter is responsible for sending me the AIA’s magazine, Architectural Record. I can get my own yearly subscription for ($64).
When I was looking for a new job, the national AIA website was worthless. There were absolutely no listings for my area- although I know companies here are hiring.
Also, they send me a ton of junk mail.

National Chapter Fees = $266 + $40 = $306
My fees for the same services = $ 64
Amount In The Hole = $296

State Chapter
Of the three, the State chapter has done the most for me thus far. They are the ones who hold the yearly convention, where I get a great deal of my CE for the year. However, registration fees for the convention are not covered in your State AIA dues. ($125)
I also receive a magazine from them, bi-monthly. I could subscribe to it on my own for ($25).
I posted my resume on their job website, and did receive a call about it…two weeks after I’d accepted my new position. The jobs listed on the site were few and dismal.
Also, they send me a ton of junk mail.

State Chapter Fees = $205 + $125 = $330
My fees for the same services = $125 + $75 = $200
Amount In The Hole = $130

Local Chapter
Now we come to the most worthless of the three. I used their employment website mercilessly when conducting my job hunt, but this is a service I can use, regardless of my membership status, for free. ($0)
When I physically went to their office to see if they had additional jobs besides what was posted on the website, there was nothing. Most of the CE classes they offer come at a price, usually $10 apiece. I can get the same thing from Architectural Record magazine, and not have to give up a lunch hour, take time off work, or give up precious after-hours time. I am not a networker, nor a schmoozer, nor a volunteer-type person; so all of that is lost on me.
Also, they send me a ton of junk mail.

Local Chapter Fees = $195
My fees for the same services = $ 0
Amount In The Hole = $195

In conclusion, for the AIA’s services and use of their title, I pay a total of $831.
I can obtain the same services, minus the title, by paying $264, putting me $567 ahead.

However, if the company decides to pay for my renewal fees, I’m all about the AIA. I’m now a corporate whore, remember?

Edited on 12/2/2004 to add:
Score! The company is totally paying for my renewal fees! They even have a policy that they'll pay 100% for employees with less than twelve years out of school- they must realize how long we remain poor-asses!


Jexebel said...

Damn, for that much I could buy the pony I always wanted. Where can I sign up to be a corprate whore?

Josh said...

I feel your pain. I stopped paying the dues for my professional association(graphic arts) because, let's face it, we're all in it for the same thing: job listings. Try as they might, AIGA never stood a chance against the combined might of craigslist, monster, hotjobs, and the rest of 'em.

Besides, they were really snobby. :)