How to Become a Licensed Architect

The practice of architecture in the United States is controlled by the individual states and territories, known as “jurisdictions.”  This control typically extends to the use of the term, “architect” by any individual and often to the use of the term “architecture.”   The individual jurisdictions have the authority to license architects and set standards for their preparation for practice.  The required preparation includes three elements: education, work experience, and an examination.  You can learn more about the criteria required in your state by clicking here.

Becoming a Licensed Architect: The Process

1. Fulfill necessary education requirements

Most state boards require that the aspiring licensee has earned one of the following degrees from an NCARB-accredited institution.

2. Complete the requirement for professional experience

Those pursuing licensure must complete a practical internship with a substantial number of work hours under the supervision of an architect licensed to practice in the United States.  The NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) manages the AXP (Architectural Experience Program) on behalf of its member boards, helping intern architects to document work experience in a range of professional activities.

3. Pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)

The Architect Registration Examination is a comprehensive test that reflects the situations and challenges that architects frequently encounter in their work. Questions are designed to test the intern architect’s individual skills, the understanding of the principles of practice, and preparation for coordinating with specialists in the allied design and engineering disciplines.  NCARB administers the ARE, provides certification of each architect’s successful completion of the exams, and makes that information available to jurisdictions, which issue licenses.  The complete ARE guidelines are available for download here.

In most states, licensees will also be required to maintain their licenses through continuing education. The requirements vary by state, so check with your state architectural registration board to determine your continuing education needs.

Online Master of Architecture

If you’re interested in becoming a licensed architect but haven’t yet fulfilled the education requirement, LTU offers an NCARB-accredited, relevant, hands-on Online Master of Architecture program with courses offered online that can help you qualify for the exam and take the next step in your career.