To practice architecture in the United States, you must earn a license from the regulatory board in the jurisdiction where you want to practice. Each of the 55 U.S. states and territories, or jurisdictions, sets their own requirements for licensure in that jurisdiction, but they all include three core components: education, experience, and examination.

NCARB recommends and encourages national standards for these three areas, which many licensing boards choose to adopt—although others set their own unique qualifications. Learn more about NCARB’s role.

How to Get Licensed

Before you begin the process, you should check your jurisdiction’s requirements. The process may differ depending on your chosen jurisdiction, but the basics are similar:

  1. Earn an architecture degree from a NAAB-accredited program, or meet your jurisdiction’s education requirement.
  2. Gain and document the required experience. All 55 U.S. jurisdictions accept the Architectural Experience Program®(AXP®), but some require additional experience.
  3. Pass the ARE®. All 55 U.S. jurisdictions require you to pass the Architect Registration Examination®.
  4. Meet any extra jurisdictional requirements. Some boards require additional experience or a location-specific supplemental exam before licensure.
  5. Have your NCARB Record transmitted to the jurisdiction where you would like to be licensed. Your NCARB Record is a verified account of your professional history that demonstrates your qualifications for licensure—learn how to start one.

Why Earn a License?

The reasons to earn a license to practice architecture are as varied and personal as the path to get there—here are just a few benefits of licensure:

  • Title: Once you’ve earned a license, you can officially call yourself an architect.
  • Independence: With a license, you can practice independently.
  • Trust: Your license gives firms, clients, and the public confidence in your skills and ability to protect their health, safety, and welfare.
  • Skills: Completing your education, experience, and examination requirements helps guide you through continuing your professional growth and development.
  • Advancement: Having a license provides you with greater career opportunities.

The NCARB Certificate

When you’ve earned a license to practice, get an NCARB Certificate to simplify the process of applying for additional U.S. licenses, access free continuing education, and more. Keep in mind, you have to be licensed by a jurisdiction before you can practice architecture within its borders.