The 5 Steps to Becoming an Architect

Welcome to a new four-part series on becoming an architect. We’ll walk you through the basics of getting licensed, understanding your jurisdiction’s requirements, and where to go for more information.

So, you want to be an architect? We realize navigating the path to licensure can be tricky, which is why we created Destination: Architect, a five-part video series that maps out key licensure requirements. With a little research and planning, you’re less likely to experience delays along the way. Without further adieu, here are the five key steps to becoming an architect.

Meet education requirements

In most jurisdictions, you have to earn a professional degree from a NAAB-accredited program—a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch), Master of Architecture (M.Arch), or a Doctor of Architecture (D. Arch). To find out if your program is accredited, click here

Earn experience

Similar to the medical profession, aspiring architects must train under the direct supervision of a registered architect. This requirement can be met through the Intern Development Program (IDP), a comprehensive program that provides hands-on exposure to everything from site design to project management. To complete the IDP, interns must earn 5,600 hours in various categories. As of December 2013, interns can begin earning IDP credit after graduating high school, so don’t wait to start reporting hours! You can learn more about the IDP here.

Pass the ARE

All 54 U.S. jurisdictions require the completion of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). The exam has seven divisions consisting of multiple choice and graphical questions. Each division is administered electronically and can be taken at any time throughout the year. Some jurisdictions allow interns to take the exam prior to completing IDP. To see if your state allows concurrent testing, click here.

Apply for licensure

After completing the education, experience, and examination requirements, you can submit your application for licensure. NCARB is comprised of 54 U.S. jurisdictions including the 50 states, DC, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each jurisdiction sets its own requirements for initial licensure, reciprocity, and the practice of architecture. Because each jurisdiction defines its own policies, it’s a good idea to verify the latest requirements. You can learn about your jurisdiction’s requirements here

Get NCARB Certified

If you’d like to practice architecture in another state, you’ll need to apply for a reciprocal license—a process expedited by having an NCARB Certificate. In fact, more than half of the jurisdictions require an NCARB Certificate to seek reciprocity. You can learn about the benefits of becoming NCARB Certified here.

Be sure to check back next week for the second installation of our “How to Become an Architect” series. In the meantime, you can watch all of the Destination Architect videos on our YouTube channel.