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What is a Sole Practitioner Architect?

Sole: (adjective) (a) being the only one; (b) having no sharer; (c) functioning independently and without assistance or interference

A Sole Practitioner Architect (SPA) is a self-employed architect with no employees.  SPA here is defined as a full-time, for profit, complete entity.  This means the SPA will act in many roles or wear many hats.  

This practice type has pros and cons. The advantages to being a Sole Practitioner are:   

  • Being your own boss

  • Controlling your designs

  • Not having to manage people

  • Having fewer administrative tasks

  • Being able to practice your craft

  • Freedom

  • Flexibility

Some of the disadvantages are:

  • “Having to do everything myself”

  • Inability to work on larger projects

  • Longer time to deliver projects

  • Salary generally lower than that of a large firm principal

  • Isolation

  • Decisions are all mine – nobody to collaborate with

To many architects, practicing as an SPA is a stepping stone to growing a firm.  It is a place to start until you build a project volume or client base to get more projects and hire staff.  Many look at this time as “roughing it” until you can grow your practice. 

I consider Sole Practice a destination!  It is a viable practice model, a way to make a decent living, and (to me) more fulfilling than running a practice with employees.  I happen to enjoy designing and putting buildings together.  I enjoy the BIM process and feel a sense of fulfillment when completing a project. Because I find this practice model to be so fulfilling, I have assembled my thoughts into a cohesive “Guide” to help other architects reach success as Sole Practitioners.  I also administer a Facebook Community with over 1,300 members!  Please join us there for lively discussions that affect the Sole Practitioner Architect.

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