Explore the 2019 NCARB by the Numbers

NBTN 2019 Centennial

Over the past century, NCARB has adapted and grown with the profession by taking on new roles to best serve its members, customers, and the public—becoming a leader in architectural regulation. This year’s newly launched edition of NCARB by the Numbers features a look back at historical data as we celebrate our first 100 years and prepare for the future.

This year’s edition of NCARB by the Numbers also features data on the time to licensure, equity and diversity, and pinch points throughout the licensure process. To learn more about the path to licensure, visit our interactive NCARB by the Numbers database.

Explore the 2019 NBTN

In May 1919, a small group of architects from 13 states gathered in Nashville, Tennessee, with a goal to encourage licensing boards to establish uniform standards and improve the process for architects seeking out-of-state licensure. Today, 55 jurisdictions are members of NCARB—a vast increase from the past. As more jurisdictions adopted NCARB’s recommended standards for education, experience, and examination throughout the second half of the 20th century, the demand for transmittals and NCARB’s national exam also skyrocketed.

Number of NCARB Record Holders Continues to Grow

Although NCARB stored education, experience, and examination information for candidate sand architects beginning in 1921, it wasn’t until 1930 that NCARB formalized its processes and introduced the NCARB Record.

Demand for NCARB’s storage and verification services eventually grew, increasing exponentially between the 1960s and the present day. In 2018, NCARB had over 115,000 active Record holders.

Demand for Licensure Increased in Recent Years

Requests for transmittals initially gained popularity during and after World War II, as military service necessitated seeking licensure in additional states.

The number of transmittals grew dramatically in the 2010s, aligning with the high numbers of newly licensed architects seen in the past few years, but also pointing toward the impact of the global economy on architecture practice.

Number of NCARB Certificate Holders Continue to Grow

First introduced in 1938 as a way of signaling that an architect had passed NCARB’s “highest minimum standard” version of the licensure exam, the NCARB Certificate is now a valuable credential that indicates architects have met NCARB’s requirements for education, experience, and examination.

Like Records and transmittals, demand for the NCARB Certificate increased during the 1960s, as more uniform licensing requirements—including widespread acceptance of the Certificate for reciprocity—were put into place. In 2018, over 45,000 architects held an active NCARB Certificate.

Tests Administered Increase During Exam Transition

NCARB first created exams in 1921 and introduced the national exam that would become the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) in 1965. However, reliable exam volume data wasn’t established until the late-1990s with the introduction of computerized testing.

As seen in 2008-09 and 2015-17, the number of divisions taken by candidates increase when a version of the ARE is nearing retirement, as was the case in 2009 following the sunset of ARE 3.1. Following the retirement, test administrations decrease before returning to a normal level. In 2018, candidates took 55,265 divisions of the ARE.


Visit our interactive NCARB by the Numbers website to explore other exclusive insights into the state of licensure.