Final Practice Analysis Report Shares Key Findings on Continuing Education

27 June 2013

Washington, DC—Those looking to understand how the policies and programs of NCARB will be shaped and informed in the coming years should review the findings from the 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture, the most comprehensive practice analysis study ever undertaken for the architecture profession. The recently released final report includes the full set of previously published individual reports that focused on education, internship, and examination, as well as a new report on continuing education.

“Anyone interested in how the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is formulated or why certain tasks are required as part of the Intern Development Program (IDP) should take a closer look at the Practice Analysis report,” said NCARB CEO Michael J. Armstrong. “Findings will help frame and inform important discussions within the profession related to the path to licensure.”

The data collected in the 2012 Practice Analysis survey provided a comprehensive and rich set of information from a broad and representative sample of architects, interns, and educators. The study included 11 different surveys comprised of 24 specific research questions, which gathered data regarding:

  • Task coverage and performance during architectural education, and when knowledge/skills were and should be acquired during education and to what cognitive level;

  • Tasks that should be required as part of the IDP, along with the tasks that are and should be performed by completion of the IDP;

  • Importance level of various knowledge/skills for competent practice by recently licensed architects, the frequency of task performance by architects and their typical level of cognitive use of a knowledge or skill, and when knowledge/skills were and should be acquired; and

  • Whether a knowledge/skill is essential to an architect’s ability to protect the public health, safety, and welfare (HSW), and whether a continuing education need exists for a knowledge/skill.  

Use of Practice Analysis Data

Practicing architects, voluntarily serving on various NCARB committees, partnered with NCARB staff to both develop the practice analysis survey and to review and analyze the resulting data. The initial analysis completed by these committees will support both the immediate and long-term needs of the Council’s programs by:

  • Serving as a significant contribution to the NAAB 2013 Accreditation Review Conference and supporting architectural education’s important role in the path to licensure (see Education Report release);

  • Continuing the IDP as a valuable step in the development of the next generation of practitioners (see Internship Report release); 

  • Ensuring that the ARE remains relevant to the current practice of architecture, psychometrically justifiable, and legally defensible (see Examination Report release); and

  • Supporting and refining existing continuing education efforts while also enabling the Council to better engage with broader efforts to respond to architects’ continuing education needs.

Highlights of Continuing Education Findings

The 2012 Practice Analysis marks NCARB’s first effort to collect information on the continuing education needs of practitioners. The recently released Continuing Education Report encompasses data collected from licensed architects through two continuing education (CE)-related surveys. Overall, results indicated that:

  • Architects do not consider the vast majority of the knowledge/skills surveyed as essential to protect the public HSW, although many of these knowledge/skills comply with current HSW CE standards. The knowledge/skills that respondents did consider to be essential for protecting the public included knowledge of codes, engineering technologies, and environmental issues.

  • Most architects see the value in lifelong learning in order to keep current with practice and expand existing knowledge/skills. According to the survey data, 65 percent of responses from architects indicated the need for continuing education in order to learn the basics, keep current, or expand their knowledge to a more advanced level.

  • When comparing the two rating scales (essentialness to HSW vs. CE need), only eight of the 127 knowledge/skills were identified by 50 percent or more of architects as being both essential to public protection and as areas in which they need CE.

Survey results will enable the Council to better engage with broader efforts to respond to architects’ CE needs and help underscore the important relationship between lifelong learning and the practitioner’s obligation to protect the public. Over the next several years, the results of the survey will guide the Council’s continued cross-collateral discussions with the American Institute of Architects (AIA) on ways to improve CE courses, responding to the concerns of NCARB Member Boards regarding the criteria for license renewal.


A practice analysis has historically been conducted by NCARB every five to seven years. The primary goal of previous studies was to gather data for purposes of maintaining a current and valid test specification for the ARE. The Council expanded the scope of the 2012 study, adding new rating scales that would answer various research questions pertinent to education, internship, examination, and continuing education. As a result, the survey design, data collection, data analysis, and application processes were significantly revamped. As in the past, the 2012 study is consistent with the benchmark Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing.

The 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture was designed under the guidance and review of a Practice Analysis Steering Committee (PASC) comprised of Member Board Members and architects representing the profession’s collateral organizations: the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA), the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS), and the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). NCARB selected PSI Services, LLC, to conduct the study, which included a total of 11 separate surveys in order to decrease the amount of time required to complete the survey and to help ensure that a statistically valid response rate would be obtained. The final analysis sample included 7,800 responses, providing a substantive basis for summarizing professional practice through its representativeness, statistical precision, and breadth of information.

The complete 2012 NCARB Practice Analysis of Architecture can be viewed here, along with the individual reports. Please contact Amanda Pica at if interested in reproducing any of the information included in the Practice Analysis reports.



The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its Member Boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.


Related Content

Practice Analysis of Architecture
NCARB’s Practice Analysis of Architecture survey, conducted every five to seven years, provides essential insight into the practice of architecture. Findings are significant to the profession and help determine the knowledge and skills necessary to practice architecture independently and protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare.