What’s in a Title – Wisconsin Law

The Architect Title [WI]

AIA Wisconsin often is asked about state laws governing the use of the title “architect” and who can offer to provide architectural services. The following is a brief primer on requirements in Wisconsin Statutes and the Wisconsin Administrative Code:

Use of the Title "Architect" – Wisconsin Statutes prohibit a person who is not licensed as an architect from not only practicing or offering to practice architecture, but also from using any title or description tending to convey the impression to the public that they are an architect. Section 443.02(3) states that: "No person may . . . use in connection with the person's name or otherwise assume, use or advertise any title or description tending to convey the impression that he or she is an architect . . . unless the person has been duly registered." This consistently has been interpreted to prohibit an unlicensed individual from holding themselves out as a “residential architect,” “interior architect” or “architectural designer” . . . or using similar titles that include “architect” or derivative terms such as “architectural.”

Certificate of Authorization – Section 443.08(5) of the Wisconsin Statutes states that: "No firm, partnership or corporation may engage in the practice of or offer to practice architecture in this state, or use in connection with its name, or otherwise assume, use or advertise any title or description tending to convey the impression that it is engaged in the practice of architecture, nor may it advertise or offer to furnish an architectural service, unless the firm, partnership or corporation has complied with this chapter" by having a certificate of authorization from the Department of Safety & Professional Services. To qualify for such a certificate, the firm, partnership or corporation must have a registered architect in its employment. It is important for firms to keep their certificate of authorization up to date with DSPS.

Aiding or Abetting Unlicensed Practice – Section 443.11(1) authorizes the Joint Examining Board to discipline an architect found guilty of "signing or impressing his or her seal or stamp upon documents not prepared by him or her or under his or her control" or "knowingly aiding or abetting the unauthorized practice of architecture . . . by persons not registered under this chapter." In addition, section 443.17 states that: "No person who is registered under this chapter to practice architecture . . . may impress his or her seal or stamp upon documents which have not been prepared by the person or under his or her direction and control . . . or in any other manner knowingly aid or abet the unauthorized practice of architecture . . . by person not authorized under this chapter.”

Professional Conduct – Chapter A-E 8 of the state administrative code establishes the rules of professional conduct for architects and contains provisions related to professional obligations, unauthorized practice and plan stamping. According to A-E 8.06 (3), an architect “may not enter into an agreement which provides that a person not legally and actually qualified to perform professional services has control of the registrant’s judgment as related to public health, safety or welfare.” In A-E 8.07 (1), architects are required to “assist in enforcing laws which prohibit the unlicensed practice of architecture . . . by reporting violation to the board.” A-E 8.07 (2) states that an architect “may not delegate professional responsibility to unlicensed persons and may not otherwise aid or abet the unlicensed practice of architecture.” According to A-E 8.09 (1), “no architect . . . may sign, seal or stamp any plans, drawings, documents, specifications or reports for architectural . . . practice which are not prepared by the registrant or under his or her personal direction and control.”

Only registered architects may use the title "architect."

Title for Emerging Professionals – The appropriate term to describe individuals working to gain qualifying experience to become licensed as an architect has generated a great deal of attention. NCARB announced an initiative to sunset the use of term “intern” and propose changes to its model guidelines for licensing boards. Last December, the AIA Board of Directors approved a position statement in support of the titles “architectural associate” or “design professional” for individuals who have met a jurisdiction’s education/experience requirements and are participating in NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program (AXP). In Wisconsin, however, current state administrative rules in A-E 3.03(5) allow individuals acquiring supervised experience in architectural work to become licensed as an architect to use the title "architectural intern." Only registered architects may use the title "architect." Titles for individuals pursuing licensure other than "architectural intern" that include "architect" or "architectural," such as “architectural associate,” "intern architect," "architectural designer" or "architectural technician," are prohibited by state law. The Architects Section of the Joint Examining Board has approved a statement of scope to update state rules to reflect the new AXP requirements and to review A-E 3 in relation to current terminology used in the architectural industry. Wisconsin firms are encouraged to make sure that titles used on business cards and in other marketing materials comply with state statutes and related administrative rules.

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The Architect Title [WI]

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