To practice architecture in the United States, you must have a license from a U.S. jurisdiction. The jurisdictions include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The average time it takes to achieve licensure is 12.5 years.
Each jurisdiction is responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) recommends and encourages national requirements for licensure by developing standards for the 55 licensing boards, which then issue licenses to applicants who meet their specific registration requirements.
How to Get Licensed
The licensure process differs depending on the jurisdiction, but the basics of initial licensure are similar. Generally speaking, the process is as follows:
- Earn an architecture degree from a NAAB-accredited program, or meet your jurisdiction’s education requirement.
- Gain and document the required experience. All 55 U.S. jurisdictions accept the Architectural Experience Program®(AXP®), but some require additional experience.
- Pass the ARE®. All 55 U.S. jurisdictions require you to pass the Architect Registration Examination®.
- Meet any extra jurisdictional requirements. Some boards require additional experience or a location-specific supplemental exam before licensure.
- Have your NCARB Record transmitted to the jurisdiction where you would like to be licensed. Before transmitting your Record, you should contact your board to verify its individual requirements.
Why Licensure Matters
The reasons to earn a license to practice architecture are as varied and personal as the path to get there—here are just a few benefits of licensure:
- Title: Once you’ve earned a license, you can officially call yourself an architect.
- Trust: Your license gives firms, clients, and the public confidence in your skills and ability to protect their health, safety, and welfare.
- Skills: Completing your education, experience, and examination requirements helps guide you through continuing your professional growth and development.