In October, NCARB released a short survey following up on some initial findings from NCARB and NOMA’s joint Baseline on Belonging study. As background research for Baseline on Belonging action items related to licensure awareness and accessibility, the survey explored how candidates’ knowledge of the licensure process impacted their career choices. It also gathered feedback regarding where more flexibility in licensure requirements might improve accessibility.

Download the Survey Report

Over 4,000 licensure candidates, recently licensed architects, and design professionals who stopped pursuing licensure responded to the survey. The findings highlighted two related issues that impact a majority of individuals on the path to licensure:

Licensure Awareness Happens Too Late

Over half of respondents reported that they learned about the steps required to become a licensed architect too late to make strategic choices, such as what degree to pursue or what state to pursue licensure in. This was especially true for people of color; Hispanic or Latino respondents were 14 percentage points more likely than white candidates to indicate they did not learn about the licensure process in time.

White respondents were also more likely than their peers to report that they learned about licensure prior to college or while in college; for most other racial or ethnic groups, respondents were more likely to have learned about licensure after college, while working in a firm.

Learning about licensure early can inform decisions like whether or not to pursue an accredited master’s degree, what kind of job to take, or where to live and work—all factors that can impact candidates’ future licensure goals.

Most Candidates Need Flexibility on the Licensure Path

The majority of respondents (68%) indicated they had to change their licensure path at some point during their career due to personal, professional, or other reasons. Women, Asian, and Latino respondents were more likely than their peers to indicate they had to change their licensure path due to changing personal circumstances. Additionally, most of those who did need to adjust their licensure path reported that the licensure process was not flexible enough to accommodate their shifting personal or professional circumstances.

Next Steps

NCARB is in the middle of a multi-year effort to re-envision the process of becoming an architect. Over the next several years, our expert volunteers will explore how best to measure and assess competency on the path to licensure—including opportunities to make the current core licensure requirements more flexible, while ensuring individuals who become licensed are qualified to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The findings from this survey will help inform their work.