NCARB Fees Explained

As a 501 (c)(6) nonprofit organization, NCARB isn’t subject to paying income taxes or corporate shareholder dividends. Instead, fees paid to the Council are reinvested into our programs and services like the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®) and the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), support for services to NCARB’s member licensing boards, funding future research and new program development, and ensuring financial resilience of the organization.

As part of our strategic goal to facilitate licensure, NCARB’s business model prioritizes keeping fees for emerging professionals low. To achieve this, costs for licensure candidate programs are subsidized by licensees who hold the NCARB Certificate. Let’s dive deeper into NCARB’s fees.

Why does NCARB charge fees?

Simply put: it costs money to develop programs and ensure they stay secure and up-to-date. NCARB enjoys having a large network of volunteers who assist in these efforts, which reduces costs significantly. However, costs are still incurred to bring volunteers together, engage special industry experts, design and sustain IT infrastructure, support customer service, maintain exam security, hire staff to coordinate organizational initiatives, and more. Such factors are especially important as we aim to continuously improve services to better support the community, while aligning with the technology of today.

Does NCARB make money off of licensure candidates?

No—historically, NCARB makes no profit on services for candidates and instead covers its costs by augmenting AXP and ARE fees with fees collected from NCARB Certificate holders.  NCARB’s Board of Directors (BOD) remains committed to keeping fees low for licensure candidates. Overall, fees for the path to licensure have remained about the same for the past 10 years.

What do the ARE fees cover?

Exam fees cover some of the costs related to the ongoing maintenance of the current exam. This includes assistance from industry experts involved with the science, development, and delivery of exams; costs associated with architect volunteers who write exam questions; future research and development; plus staff and related overhead such as test center fees and IT support.

Who develops NCARB’s programs?

NCARB works with hundreds of volunteer architects to develop and maintain our programs. Because of this, we budget for travel, lodging, and meeting expenses so our volunteers can collaborate to ensure that each of our programs meet quality standards. In addition to our committed volunteers, NCARB relies on contributions of psychometric experts who measure and test the ARE’s validity.


NCARB’s BOD annually evaluates the fee structure to ensure we’re not charging more than is absolutely necessary. In an effort to remain transparent with our community, you can find a breakdown of NCARB’s FY19 expenses in this year’s treasurer’s report.