There is a rigorous course of study at the Winter Academy which is required for certification as a city architect.
Novice: Newly certified architects fresh out of the Academy must then spend 5-10 years apprenticed to a master. (However, stricter masters might not ever approve a rise to practitioner for novices who annoy them or can't quite seem to meet exacting standards.) Typically receiving only room and board, novices live at the whim of their mentors. Apprenticeships with accomplished and well-known -- not to mention kind -- architects are the subject of fierce competition. Novices may not be paid for their work without their designs getting a stamp of approval from a master, but novice plans are far cheaper. So, for example, someone just looking to build a simple add-on room might look to hiring a novice to cut costs. No one in their right mind would hire them for much else, and no master would approve a novice build on anything much more complicated, lest her own name be sullied for signing off on shoddy work. Practitioner: Novices must receive approval from their mentor to receive the title of practitioner, at which point they can be paid for their work without a master's stamp on their designs, though they do still work under a Master Architect and must answer to him for any errors. Practitioners also act as the first line of supervision over novices, though such duties are disparaged as nanny-work. Most never get past this level, because in order to become a master they are required to produce a masterwork -- a matter debated on and judged by the entire Architects Guild once a year. Masters sponsor projects as masterworks, so practitioners must also keep in good standing with their mentors. Being blackballed means never advancing, no matter what one designs. Master: Having received the validation of the Guild, the architect may now ply her trade under her own auspices -- so long as she meets Guild standards. She is expected to take on apprentices and fund their studies out of her own earnings. (Though there does exist a recent program to facilitate the education of lower class Samavran citizens which subsidizes certain students with government funds paid to the master, it is a matter of some public debate whether it is a useful or viable plan.) They run houses which serve as living quarters, workshops, and offices for all practitioners and novices who answer to that master.
Payment & Reimbursement
The Architects Guild controls pricing, but high profile masters may have many little demands that add up to supplemental income, such as the buyer providing all meals for the crew during construction. These are accepted addendums to contracts; however, a buyer may always shop around for better deals or even dispute a master's demands with the Guild.
Having one's name attached to an elegant or prominent build is the goal of every young architect. The social prestige is immense.
In a city that prides itself on complicated, interconnecting towers, good architects are necessary, lest the whole things come tumbling down. Samavra knows this well, as the Great Collapse six hundred years ago took out half the city.
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