Over the past several years, NCARB has worked with licensing boards and architect volunteers to streamline its programs and provide greater flexibility—without compromising rigor or core purpose. As a result, the time it takes to earn a license has gradually decreased and the average age of licensure continues to drop. This trend will likely continue, especially as more licensure candidates take advantage of recent program changes. 

Time to Licensure Improves

On average, becoming an architect takes just over 13 years—from the time a student enrolls in school to the moment they receive a license. This marks the seventh year in a row that the timeline to licensure has improved, with architects earning a license almost five months sooner than in 2014.

In July 2009, NCARB implemented a new rule that requires licensure candidates to report experience within eight months. Many candidates rushed to submit experience before this change, which led to the 4 percent increase in 2008. Since then, the time to licensure has gradually improved each year. This trend will likely continue, especially as more licensure candidates benefit from recent program changes, such as a reduction in required hours and the ability to complete the ARE and IDP simultaneously. 

Newly Licensed Architects Overlapped Education, IDP, and ARE

A breakdown of the average path to licensure reveals overlaps among education, experience, and examination—leading to a decrease in the overall time it takes to earn a license. Earning a degree typically took just under six years, while completing the IDP and ARE took just under seven years.

The delay between passing the ARE and earning a license is the result of several factors. Some jurisdictions have additional requirements—such as a supplemental exam, interview, or a minimum employment duration. 

Note: This data represents architects who earned a license in 2015. 

Age at Licensure Continues to Drop

In 2015, the average age of a newly licensed architect was 33, a six-month drop from the previous year. Plus, the typical licensure candidate starts the ARE about one year before completing the IDP, an overlap that emerged in 2013. 

Three Key Factors Influence Time to Licensure

Several factors influence a candidate’s timeline to licensure: (1) the type of architecture degree a candidate pursues; (2) how early the candidate starts reporting experience; and (3) whether a candidate takes the ARE before completing the IDP/AXP.

In 2015, newly licensed architects who earned a degree from a NAAB-accredited program, reported experience before graduation, and took at least one exam while completing their experience earned a license in just under 11 years—almost two years sooner than the average candidate. 

Note: NCARB recognizes there are a variety of factors that influence the timeline to licensure, including the time it takes to complete the ARE, as well as economic and personal circumstances.