As you navigate the path to licensure, you may encounter professional credentials you haven’t seen before. While some can be earned by completing training and passing an exam, others require an architecture license. No matter the means it takes to attain the credentials—we’ve got you covered with a breakdown of the profession’s most commonly used credentials.
The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is a professional membership association for architecture professionals. The organization offers several designations based on licensure status and other criteria:
- AIA: Members who are licensed in the United States
- Assoc. AIA: Unlicensed members
- International Assoc. AIA: Members who are licensed outside of the United States
- FAIA: Members elected to the AIA College of Fellows, one of the profession’s highest honors
- Hon. AIA: Honorary member
- Hon. FAIA: Honorary fellow
Recent graduates of NAAB-accredited programs can receive a free AIA membership for up to 18 months!
The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS) is a membership organization for high school and college students interested in architecture or other design-related professions.
- AIAS: Designation used by members
CSI Membership and Certifications
The Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) is a national association for the construction industry. In addition to membership, the organization offers several certification programs of interest to both emerging professionals and architects. The organization offers the following designations:
- CSI: Designation used by members
- CCS: Professionals achieving the Certified Construction Specifier credential
- CCCA: Professionals achieving the Certified Construction Contract Administrator credential
- CDT: Professionals achieving the Construction Documents Technology credential
- CCPR: Professionals achieving the Certified Construction Product Representative credential
U.S. Green Building Council Certifications
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is an organization focused on sustainability within building design, construction, and maintenance. In addition to membership, the organization offers several certification credentials:
- LEED Green Associate: Professionals with general knowledge of green building practices and working on LEED projects
- LEED AP Building Design + Construction (BD+C): Professionals with expertise in the design and construction phases of green buildings
- LEED AP with other specialties: While LEED AP BD+C is the most common specialty; LEED offers several other specializations that designate expertise in green building practices
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is a membership organization for the architectural licensing boards of 55 U.S. states and territories. Architects can earn the NCARB Certificate, a professional credential signifying they have met the national standards for licensure, that can facilitate licensure across the jurisdictional border.
- NCARB: Designation used by Certificate holders
The National Organization of Minority Architects is a membership organization (NOMA) open to all that are passionate about progress, community, and design and is used by many professionals in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. NOMA credentials include
- NOMA: Licensed or unlicensed professional member
- NOMAS: Student members
Registered Architect (RA)
This qualification is sometimes used by architects who are not affiliated with other professional associations to signify licensure.
Architects frequently collaborate with other professionals in the design industry, and some architects are also licensed to practice other skills! Here are some of the more common credentials for related professionals:
National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ)
The Council for Interior Design Qualification is a certifying organization for interior design professionals. This designation is used by Interior designers who have passed the CIDQ’s three-part national exam, signifying they’ve met the CIDQ’s standards for interior design education, experience, and examination.
Professional Engineer (PE)
Individuals using this distinction are licensed in the United States to practice engineering.
Professional Landscape Architect/Certified Landscape Architect (PLA/CLA)
The PLA designation is used by individuals who have passed the five-part, written Landscape Architecture Registration Exam (LARE), while CLA describes an individual certified in landscape architecture.