Overview of the Profession

Overview of the Profession

All states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects or contract to provide architectural services. Many architecture school graduates work in the field even though they are not licensed or while they are in the process of becoming licensed. But they may not call themselves an architect.

A licensed architect is required to take legal responsibility for all work. Licensure requirements usually include:

  • A professional degree in architecture;
  • A period of practical training or experience; and
  • Passage of all divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

From the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • About 1 in 5 architects are self-employed—more than two times the proportion for all occupations.
  • Architecture graduates may face competition, especially for jobs in the most prestigious firms.

According to a 2008 NCARB survey of registration boards of architecture, there are approximately 104,000 licensed architects in the United States, including some who are retired and others who are not working as architects but maintain their license. In addition, substantial numbers of non-licensed people are working in architectural offices. There are approximately 29,000 students enrolled in NAAB-accredited programs today; of this total, about 18,000 (62%) are enrolled in Bachelor of Architecture, approximately 10,000 (37%) are enrolled in Master of Architecture and 300 (1%) are enrolled in Doctor of Architecture degree  programs.

Related Professions

Architects often work with engineers, urban planners, interior designers, landscape architects, and a variety of other professionals. [more]

Related Publications


Necessity of an Architect During Construction
Updated December 2010! This special paper argues for the adoption of the NCARB Legislative Guideline VII, which requires that an owner retain an architect during the construction phase of a building project. A majority of building officials believe architects are necessary to ensure safety.

Download (PDF, 432K)


Architectural Organizations and the Practice of Architecture in the United States
Updated June 2010! NCARB is one of five collateral organizations that play an important role in the regulation of the profession. Each organization represents different groups responsible for the education, training, registration, and practice of architects.

Download (PDF, 455K)

Related Content

Related Organizations
NCARB is one of five collateral organizations that play an important role in the profession.

U.S. Member Boards
Contact information for all 54 U.S. registration boards.

NCARB's members are the architectural registration boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.