Architects must be licensed before they can practice architecture as or call themselves an architect.
There are four main steps to becoming an architect.
In most states, to become licensed, candidates must earn a professional degree in architecture from one of the more than 100 schools of architecture that have degree programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). However, each state architectural registration board sets its own standards, so graduation from a non-accredited program may meet the educational requirement for licensing in a few states.
Three types of professional degrees in architecture are available:
- Bachelor of Architecture: Accredited degree programs awarding the B. Arch. degree must require a minimum of 150 semester credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, in academic coursework in professional studies and electives.
- Master of Architecture: Accredited degree programs awarding the M. Arch. degree must require a minimum of 168 semester credit hours, or the quarter-hour 10 equivalent, of which 30 semester credit hours, or the quarter-hour equivalent, must be at the graduate level, in academic coursework in professional studies and electives.
- Doctor of Architecture: Accredited degree programs awarding the D. Arch. degree must require either an undergraduate baccalaureate degree or a minimum of 120 undergraduate semester credit hours, or the undergraduate-level quarterhour equivalent, and a minimum of 90 graduate-level semester credit hours, or the graduate-level quarter-hour equivalent, in academic coursework in professional studies and electives.
Most state architectural registration boards require architecture graduates to complete experience hours in order to become licensed. The Architectural Experience Program (AXP) is a comprehensive training program created to ensure that licensure candidates in the architecture profession gain the knowledge and skills required for the independent practice of architecture.
Most new graduates complete their training period by working as licensure candidates at architectural firms. Licensure candidates in architectural firms may assist in the design of one part of a project, help prepare architectural documents or drawings, build models, or prepare construction drawings on CADD. They also may research building codes and materials or write specifications for building materials, installation criteria, the quality of finishes, and other related details.
All 54 U.S. jurisdictions require the completion of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). The examination is broken into seven divisions consisting of multiple choice and graphical questions. The eligibility period for completion of all divisions of the exam varies by state.
All jurisdictions require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects and contract to provide architectural services. During the time between graduation and becoming licensed, architecture school graduates generally work in the field under the supervision of a licensed architect who takes legal responsibility for all work. Licensing requirements include a professional degree in architecture, a period of practical training or experience, and passing the ARE. You must contact your registration board to find out their requirements and complete the licensure process.
Most states also require some form of continuing education to maintain a license. Requirements vary by state, but usually involve the completion of a certain number of credits annually or biennially through workshops, formal university classes, conferences, self-study courses, or other sources including NCARB monographs.