Keith Witmer

Age 36. Planner and intern architect at Kitchen & Associates Architectural Services in Collingswood, N.J. Pursuing licensure.

"I studied architecture and then, after working for several years, continued my education in city planning. But that kind of education wasn’t very interesting to many firms, until now. They wanted one or the other. So I kept putting off taking the exams. A license wasn’t related to anything I was doing at work or academically. It [not having one] didn’t impede anything; it was a disconnected obligation that had very little immediate benefit. Only recently has it become an issue, because I realized there is a ceiling. It does start to matter when you reach a point where you are not going to go any further; you won’t become an associate, or have your name on anything. It’s an important credential that people will ask about and it will matter on a CV or on a project team. A license was never a factor in my ability to move forward professionally or earn money—until I hit that ceiling. All of sudden it is expected that you must have that credential. The process is still disconnected to what I do as an architect or an urban planner, but I think a license will help me regardless of the direction I go, which is why I will now take the exams." As told to Ernest Beck