The road to becoming an architect is less complicated than you might think, and NCARB is here to help. We have the guidance and resources you’ll need to advance from student to practicing architect.

Before you can call yourself an architect, you have to earn a license by completing your state’s specific requirements. Each of the 55 U.S. licensing boards sets requirements for licensure in their jurisdiction, but they all include three core components: education, experience, and examination.

Learn more about the basics of becoming an architect by familiarizing yourself with the "three E’s."


To become an architect, you’ll need to meet your jurisdiction’s education requirement. Most licensing boards require that architects hold a professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

  • NAAB-accredited Programs: You can search the NAAB’s list of accredited programs, which include Bachelor of Architecture, Master of Architecture, and Doctor of Architecture programs.
  • Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL): IPAL enables students to gain real-world experience and take the national licensing exam while in school. Students who graduate from IPAL options can be eligible for licensure soon after graduation.
  • NCARB Record: Your NCARB Record is a detailed, verified account of your education, experience, and examination history. Over half of students start their Record in school, so they can earn full credit for internships and eligible experience.


No matter where you intend to practice, you’ll have to earn and document a certain amount of professional experience to ensure you’re ready to protect the public. Our Architectural Experience Program® (AXP™) provides a framework to guide you through recording that experience.

  • AXP Guidelines: Essential reading for all candidates completing the experience program, this document guides you through the program’s rules and requirements.
  • Your Guide to the AXP: This quick overview will fill you in on the basics of the experience program, including some FAQs.
  • AXP Supervisors: Need help navigating your candidate/supervisor relationship? Visit the Supervisors and Mentors section of our website for more tools and resources.


Another key part of becoming an architect is completing the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). With exam divisions designed to reflect the current profession, the ARE ensures that you’re ready to practice architecture independently.

  • ARE 5.0 Guidelines: Learn everything you need to know about starting the ARE, scheduling an exam, taking your exam, and other important examination policies.
  • ARE 5.0 Handbook: The ARE 5.0 Handbook walks you through each division, providing specifics on objectives, sample questions, suggested references, and more.
  • Your Guide to the ARE: Explore the basics of preparing for the exam, arriving at the test center, and more with this quick overview.
  • ARE 5.0 Community: Through the community, you’ll have access to exclusive prep videos, advice from NCARB experts and fellow test-takers, and more.

Stay up-to-date on the latest news by signing up for our newsletters filled with news, tools, and tips to support you along the path to licensure.