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Path to Licensure
Learn how NCARB’s updated programs are streamlining the road
from student to practicing architect.
The practice of architecture is constantly evolving—and so is NCARB’s support of the licensure process. Throughout FY17, we worked with our members, volunteers, and collateral organizations to break down barriers, serve communities, launch a new version of the national licensing exam, and more.
Over the past decade, NCARB has worked under the guidance of the state licensing boards to refresh programs along every step of the path to licensure, from education to registration. Chief among these was the update and alignment of two key programs: the Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™) and the Architect Registration Examination®(ARE®), which culminated in the launch of ARE 5.0 on November 1, 2016.
The latest data from the 2017 edition of NCARB by the Numbers indicates some of these program changes have led to a reduction in the timeline to licensure, while still maintaining the rigorous requirements needed to protect the public. In addition, newly licensed architects are increasingly overlapping the AXP and ARE. As a result, the time it takes to earn a license has steadily dropped over the past eight years, with the average architect becoming licensed in 12.5 years—nearly 10 months sooner than 2015, and 3.1 years sooner than the peak in 2008.
NCARB's fiscal year begins July 1 and ends June 30.
In addition to ongoing efforts to explore and support the value of programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), we collaborated with Member Boards, practitioners, educators, students, and our collaterals on two key education-related initiatives
In June 2017, NCARB accepted five additional programs into the Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL), bringing the
total number of participants to 26 programs at 21 schools around the country.
Begun in 2015, IPAL gives students the opportunity to jumpstart their career in architecture
by working toward their experience and examination requirements for licensure. IPAL
options incorporate the AXP and ARE into the curricula of an existing NAAB-accredited architecture program.
We anticipate this effort will further streamline and shorten the timeline to licensure in the
near future, as students begin to graduate from schools in the inaugural IPAL cohort.
*Programs must be accredited or a candidate for accreditation by the NAAB before implementing
an IPAL option.
NCARB began partnering with the American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) Freedom by Design™ program in July 2016, providing mentorship opportunities with members of state licensing boards and $100,000 in grants and funding to the community service initiative. Freedom by Design gives architecture students the opportunity to network and gain real-world experience that counts toward their AXP hours while improving the accessibility of their communities.
NCARB will continue sponsoring the program and facilitate opportunities for members of state licensing boards to mentor local Freedom by Design participants in 2017.
FY17 marked the first year of implementation of the renamed and restructured AXP, which launched June, 2016, following the approval of NCARB's Member Boards. This update realigned the previous 17 experience areas into six areas of modern practice, which correspond to the six divisions of ARE 5.0.
Approximately 2,400 candidates completed their experience requirement after the AXP launched, bringing 2016’s total AXP completions to an all-time high of 8,153.
The past year also saw the first participants in the new AXP Portfolio. This reporting option enables experienced designers who have work outside of the five-year reporting requirement to complete the AXP by submitting an online portfolio.
The AXP Portfolio is part of an ongoing initiative by NCARB's Member Boards to offer advancement opportunities to licensure candidates and architects following alternative career paths. The portfolio, which requires applicants to provide work examples that satisfy each of the AXP’s 96 tasks, confirms that candidates achieve the necessary level of competency, while also ensuring that the profession continues to move in an inclusive direction. Candidates must also meet their licensing board’s education and examination requirements.
Thanks to four years of dedicated development by our members, volunteers and staff, ARE 5.0 launched November 1, 2016. The exam features the latest testing technology, two new item types, and six divisions aligned with the phases of practice and the new AXP.
With the help of the entire NCARB community, we shared several resources to help candidates prepare for the new exam, including the ARE 5.0 Handbook, ARE 5.0 Guidelines, a series of test prep videos, and the ARE 5.0 Demo Exam. Plus, NCARB launched the new ARE 5.0 Community, a place for candidates to share best practices and study tips, get expert help, start study groups, and encourage each other to complete the exam.
The hard work didn’t end with November 1—after ARE 5.0’s launch, NCARB collaborated with a volunteer pool of practicing architects to set the cut (or passing) score for each division. This score was established using the results of test administrations for each division, ensuring that test results are fair and accurate. To encourage candidates to test, NCARB offered $100 gift cards
and free retakes to early testers, which helped soothe hesitations about adjusting to a new
Once the cut scores for ARE 5.0 were established, NCARB turned to the next task at hand: helping candidates prepare for the sunset of ARE 4.0 on June 30, 2018. ARE 4.0 test administrations remained strong throughout FY17, but should drop in FY18 as candidates either complete the exam in 4.0 or transition to 5.0.
Candidates unsure of their testing plan can use the Transition Calculator to create a personalized strategy based on how their passed ARE 4.0 divisions will transfer to the new exam.
For the fifth year in a row, NCARB gathered 12 licensure candidates from across the country to participate in its Think Tank, which explores the different aspects of becoming an architect and provides feedback to the organization on its programs and services. Members of the 2016 Think Tank were the first to meet at NCARB’s Committee Summit, where they members had the chance to engage with NCARB committees and volunteers.
2016 Think Tank—Why Licensure Matters
Members Chad Laroche, Morgan Parrish, and Zachary Stoltenberg presented on the Think Tank’s findings at NCARB’s 2017 Annual Business Meeting, sharing training tools that could be used to help strengthen mentorship between supervisors and candidates. Their ideas will help shape the work of FY18 NCARB committees as they focus on the supervisor-candidate relationship. “Stronger relationships [between candidates and supervisors] build better professionals,” Stoltenberg told Member Boards. “Better professionals are more equipped to serve and protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.”
Kathryn Wise, AIA
NCARB STAFF LIAISONS
Harry M. Falconer Jr., AIA, NCARB
NCARB Director, Experience + Education
Martin Smith, AIA, NCARB, LEED Green Associate NCARB Assistant Director, Experience + Education
Every year, NCARB’s experts travel to campuses, firms, AIA chapters, and industry events to share insights into the path to licensure. Through our outreach efforts, we’re able to reach new audiences, grow our community, and inform candidates and architects across the country.
In FY17, NCARB made 154 presentations to nearly 7,900 people at:
44 AIA Components
18 AIA Conferences
12 Professional Conferences
6 AIAS Conferences
2 Career Fairs
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© 2017 National Council of Architectural Registration Boards