Top 10 FAQs for Candidates About the Path to Licensure

For candidates pursuing architectural licensure, successfully navigating the ins and outs of the process can be overwhelming. To help you move forward with confidence, we’ve compiled a list of candidates’ frequently asked questions and answers—from how to report professional experience to following state-specific requirements, and more. We also address many of these topics in recent webinars (available in English and Spanish), which you can watch anytime on NCARB’s YouTube channel

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Before starting out on the path to licensure, you should first confirm your jurisdiction's licensing requirements. You can do this using NCARB’s convenient Licensing Requirements Tool. And if you have any questions, contact NCARB’s Customer Relations team for assistance. 

Education 

Q: What is a NAAB-accredited program, and how do I know if I attended one? 

A: The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) evaluates and accredits architecture programs in the United States. A NAAB-accredited program offers a professional degree in architecture that meets the education requirements for licensure in all 55 U.S. jurisdictions. You can explore all NAAB-accredited programs through the NAAB’s school search tool.

Q: How do I add my education to my NCARB Record? 

A: To meet the education requirement of your jurisdiction, NCARB must verify your educational history. To add education to your NCARB record, select "Education" and then "Add University." You will need to request that your school send an official transcript directly to NCARB using your school's electronic transcript request system (use transcripts@ncarb.org as the recipient's email address) or our transcript request form. Note: If you use your school's transcript request system, be sure to include your NCARB registration number in the notes section. 

Q: I don’t have a degree from a NAAB-accredited program—can I still earn a license? 

A: Yes, some licensing boards do not require a degree from an accredited program. We also help facilitate two alternative options for candidates who don’t meet the standard education requirements. You can find the requirements for each jurisdiction using the Licensing Requirements Tool

If you do not have a degree from a NAAB-accredited program, you may need an EESA evaluation. Administered by the NAAB, the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) compares your academic transcript to the NCARB Education Standard and determines whether your education meets the requirement for licensure or NCARB certification. Learn more about EESA evaluations.

If you received an education outside of the United States or Canada and are licensed to practice architecture in a country outside of the United States or Canada, you can complete the credential verification form. After this, you can follow the steps for the foreign architect path to NCARB certification. After earning your NCARB Certificate, you can apply for a license in a U.S. jurisdiction. Note: Applicants for this path do NOT need an EESA. 

Experience 

Q: What is the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®), and how do I start reporting experience? 

A: The AXP provides a framework to guide you through gaining and recording your professional experience. The program is accepted by all jurisdictions in the United States and is a key step on the road to obtaining an architecture license. 

You can start gaining AXP experience after graduating from high school (or the established equivalent). Before you can begin reporting AXP experience, you will need an NCARB Record and an experience opportunity that qualifies for the AXP. Learn more about how to get started

Q: Who is my AXP supervisor? 

A: Your AXP supervisor manages your progress on a daily basis and is ultimately responsible for your work. A supervisor’s main task is to assign projects that give you the opportunity to develop the knowledge and skills required by the AXP, as well as to provide information to help guide your professional development. Your supervisor will also review your experience reports and certify that your work meets the expectations and requirements of the AXP. Learn more about the role of your supervisor

Examination 

Q: What is the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), and how do I start testing? 

A: The ARE is a six-division exam used to assess your knowledge and skills regarding the practice of architecture. The exam is accepted by all U.S. jurisdictions, in addition to several Canadian associations, and is a key step on the path to obtaining a license. 

Before you can schedule an ARE division, you must be approved to take the test. Once you meet the requirements in your jurisdiction, you can easily apply for eligibility through your NCARB Record. Learn more about applying for exam eligibility

Q: Where can I take the ARE? 

A: Regardless of where you are seeking registration or received eligibilities, you have the flexibility to test online, in person, or a combination of both options.   

In-person appointments are offered at test centers throughout the U.S. and Canada, as well as several international locations. For online appointments, candidates can test 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in most places around world—as long as your test environment meets certain physical and technical requirements. Learn more about scheduling a testing appointment

Q: Where can I find ARE 5.0 study materials and additional resources? 

A: NCARB’s ARE 5.0 Handbook includes a breakdown of each division, sample test questions, suggested study resources, and more. You can also find real-time advice from NCARB experts in the ARE 5.0 Community, as well as exclusive prep videos on our YouTube channel

To familiarize yourself with the testing interface, question types, tools, and available references, you can take a free demonstration of the exam. Available through your NCARB Record, the demonstration includes 75 practice questions over a three-hour testing duration. And for online test takers, you can schedule a free, 30-minute trial appointment to confirm your computer and testing space meet the requirements for online proctoring. See more ARE 5.0 resources

NCARB  

Q: What’s the difference between licensure and certification? 

A: To practice architecture in the United States, you must have a license from a U.S. jurisdiction. The jurisdictions include the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each jurisdiction is responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders. NCARB recommends and encourages national requirements for licensure by developing standards for the 55 licensing boards, which then issue licenses to applicants who meet their specific registration requirements. 

The NCARB Certificate is a professional credential that can be gained by licensed architects that facilitates cross-border licensing, offers access to continuing education, and more. Explore the benefits of NCARB certification

Q: How much do NCARB’s programs cost? 

A: We work to keep our costs low for licensure candidates beginning their professional careers—which is why the fees for some programs and services increase after initial licensure.  

The application fee for licensure candidates is $100, which covers your initial application for an NCARB Record, maintains your active Record for one year, and includes one free Record transmittal to support your application for initial registration. The annual renewal fee, or the fee for licensure candidates to maintain their Record each year is $85.  
 
In addition to the cost of an NCARB Record, each administration of an exam division has a separate fee. The total cost of the exam is $1,410, with individual divisions costing $235 each. There are no additional costs, however, associated with the experience program. Find more information regarding the fees associated with NCARB’s programs and services