We’re pleased to congratulate Sheldon Eaton on earning his California Architect License and LEED certificate. Just four years out of school, Sheldon reached both of these career milestones very quickly, and has a few suggestions for designers who are studying for their exams:

WDA: How long did it take for you to start and finish all of your exams?

SE: With the ARE Pact, organized by AIASF, I took all the ARE’s (Architect Registration Examinations) within a year. After fronting $1,000, I had access to a study group, study materials, and a mentor who had taken the exams the year before. After taking all 7 exams within the one year time limit, I got $1,000 deposit back – definitely a good incentive!

WDA: Any suggestions for achieving this in such a short time?

SE: In my experience, the exam contents seem to overlap each other. For the most part, one exam flows to the next. I would say instead of viewing each exam individually, look at all the exams as one big one. Once you start, keep pushing all the way through each test. Even though you may not know how you did on the last test until a week or two after, jump right into studying for the next one. Don’t look back and don’t lose momentum! It’s a marathon!

WDA: You also passed the LEED exam for Building Design + Construction. What motivated you to become an Accredited LEED Professional?

SE: I have always been interested in green building, and LEED provided a good foundation for implementing sustainable techniques into architectural design. I originally started my studies for the exam while working for the San Francisco Public Works Department. San Francisco public projects over 5,000 square feet require LEED certification. Between completing the AREs and finishing up AXP (Architectural Experience Program) hours, I sought to continue the momentum by taking the LEED AP test.

WDA: Why did you choose the BD+C version? 

SE: The Building Design and Construction version seemed to encompass the majority of project types, although I have been recently looking into LEED for interiors as well.

WDA: Any key challenges you overcame or lessons learned when taking your exams?

SE: The biggest challenge with taking the exams was finding consistent time to study. With a full time job and other obligations, adjusting my schedule proved difficult at first. The best study time for me became during my commute on the bus. In the end, I found it best to pace my exams by the amount of hours I could spend studying per week. The key is to be consistent.

WDA: What is your next challenge now that you are licensed?

SE: My continuous challenge is always to keep learning! Of course there are required continuing education hours with licensure, but I will never stop seeking knowledge, honing skills, and growing as an individual and an architect. It is only the beginning!

“We are so impressed with Sheldon’s talent and drive. His determination to complete his exams so quickly has inspired others to start their ARE exams,” said Retail Practice Manager Jonathan Tsurui. “We look forward to watching him achieve many future challenges and milestones.”

Learn more about Sheldon on our PEOPLE page.


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