Software Architect, is it Legal in California?

I was at a party in San Francisco when I happened across one of those other kinds of architects (you know the ones that do things with buildings, urgh). He made an interesting comment that, in the state of California, you’re only allowed to call yourself an architect if you’ve got a license saying you are. This pretty much rules out software architects as I don’t know any with a license to practice software architecture. Looks like we’ll have to start calling ourselves software designers.

I never bothered to find out whether this was true (successfully blacked out that thought) but it did get me thinking about licensing with respect to the role of software architect (or domain architect or solution architect or application architect or whatever the hell it’s called nowadays). I actually think it might be a good idea. As mentioned in a previous post, architects have had a hard time due to trying to do all the design up front as was the practice in the 1990s. Also, as mentioned here, there are too many developers who think they would make good architects. It is my belief that these two reasons are the biggest cause of most architects ending up neck deep in development work. Many industries have been burnt by the so called grand designs of the architects they’ve hired. A license would at least guarantee a certain minimal standard has been met by a person calling themselves an architect. Part of licensing can be to ensure the budding architect is actually capable of abstract thought (you’d be surprised).

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