NCARB proposes overhauls to certification programs for broadly experienced and foreign architects

19 June 2014

Philadelphia—The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) announced proposals for discussion to overhaul the Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) and Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Programs. The proposals would maintain appropriate rigor in the programs while significantly reducing completion time. These changes will optimize the process for U.S. and foreign architects who do not currently meet the requirements to earn NCARB certification for reciprocal licensure.

“NCARB maintains a goal of keeping its programs objective, attainable, defensible, and sustainable. And we’ve sought new ways to reduce the burden and cost of both programs since they’ve been heavily subsidized by the Council and cumbersome for applicants to complete,” said NCARB CEO Mike Armstrong. “The Board of Directors considered over 30 options for optimizing or overhauling the programs before settling on these proposals.”

Broadly Experienced Architect (BEA) Program
Currently, the BEA process allows architects without a degree from a National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredited program to earn the NCARB Certificate by proving they have six to 10 years of licensed practice in responsible control. In addition, they must have their education evaluated by the NAAB to define education deficiencies. Architects prepare a dossier to demonstrate post licensure, how they learned through experience to overcome identified education deficiencies. Then, their dossier is reviewed by NCARB’s BEA Committee.

Proposed Program Overhaul
The proposed change would remove those steps, and instead would ensure that the applicant has completed a state board’s education and experience requirements, passed the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), and practiced for one year. This proposal acknowledges that architects without an accredited degree are required by their original licensing jurisdiction to complete more rigorous experience requirements prior to initial licensure. The streamlining of the submittal process also ensures an objective rather than subjective review.

Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect (BEFA) Program
The BEFA process is in place for architects with a foreign license seeking NCARB certification to facilitate U.S. licensure. It currently requires establishment of an NCARB Record, at least seven years of licensed practice in the foreign country, preparation of a dossier to demonstrate experience in the areas tested in the ARE, and an in-person interview.

Proposed Program Overhaul
The proposal for consideration would remove these steps and instead would require an applicant to establish an NCARB Record, successfully complete the ARE, and document two years of experience either in the applicant’s home country or in the United States after licensure as well as have recognized education and licensing credentials. These changes preserve some of the threshold requirements currently in place, while acknowledging work experience in the United States and requiring passage of the ARE. The addition of the ARE requirement provides assurance as to familiarity with U.S. codes and facility with the English language.

Next Steps
The proposals will be distributed to NCARB’s 54 member jurisdictions for a special comment period. Member Board, collateral, and stakeholder feedback will be used to inform discussions by the Board of Directors in September and December. Depending on the feedback, the Board may move the proposals forward for a vote by the state boards at the next Annual Business Meeting in June 2015.

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About NCARB
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 registration 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.

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