Gender representation and racial and ethnic diversity both increased in 2019 at several key stages on the path to licensure. An area of progress for both metrics was the proportion of candidates completing the experience program in 2019.

Early on the path, near-gender parity was maintained, with women accounting for 49 percent of individuals starting the experience program. There was also continued improvements in gender representation along many later career stages, including candidates completing core licensure requirements and becoming NCARB Certificate holders.

Racial and ethnic diversity also increased across most career stages, including a 3 percentage point jump in people of color completing the AXP and a 4 percentage point increase in people of color starting the ARE. However, this growth is largely restricted to the Asian and Hispanic/Latino population, with no change seen in the proportion of African American individuals in the profession.

While women and people of color remain underrepresented within the profession, this year’s data suggests that the gradual improvements in early career stages are starting to impact post-licensure career stages—a signal that the profession may be changing, if slowly.

Gender Representation Improves at Several Career Stages

Gender equity improved or held steady at most career stages in 2019, although slight decreases were seen in the proportion of women starting the experience and examination programs. The largest increase was seen in the proportion of women who completed the AXP in 2019, which increased 2 percentage points in comparison to 2018.

NCARB is not currently seeing equal proportions of men and women any career stage, as was seen in the cohort of candidates starting the experience program in 2018. However, the continued growth in the proportion of women at later career stages, including finishing all core licensure requirements (now 38 percent) and holding an NCARB Certificate (now 22 percent) indicates that although women remain underrepresented in the profession, the gap continues to close.

Note: NCARB recognizes that not all individuals identify as male or female. However, NCARB’s data currently uses the same sex categorization as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Proportion of Female Candidates Completing Experience Increases

The proportion of women who completed the AXP increased by two percentage points in 2019; women made up 42 percent of this cohort in 2019. This was the largest increase seen at any individual career stage in 2019, and the first improvement in gender representation at the point of AXP completion since 2016.

Gender representation in candidates finishing the experience program has increased 7 percentage points over the past decade. In 2010, women made up 35 percent of this group. Plus, with equitable or near-equitable proportions of men and women starting the experience program in 2018 and 2019, the proportion of women completing the AXP should continue to increase over the next several years (on average, it takes 4.4 years to complete the AXP).

Note: Historical data can shift because licensure candidates can backdate experience up to five years. NCARB recognizes that not all individuals identify as male or female. However, NCARB’s data currently uses the same sex categorization as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Proportion of ARE Completions by Women Holds Steady

Women made up 39 percent of candidates completing the ARE in 2019, the same proportion seen in 2018 and the highest proportion on record.

Gender representation in candidates finishing the exam has increased 6 percentage points over the past decade. In 2010, women made up 33 percent of this group. NCARB expects to see further improvements in gender representation in the coming years, as increases in the proportion of women starting the path to licensure move down the pipeline.

Note: NCARB recognizes that not all individuals identify as male or female. However, NCARB’s data currently uses the same sex categorization as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Women Complete Requirements Sooner

On average, women consistently complete their education, experience, and examination requirements sooner than their male peers. In 2019, women finished the core licensure requirements in an average of 11.9 years, compared to 13.2 years for men and 12.7 years for all candidates.

The difference in time to complete requirements between these genders has steadily widened in recent years. The average female candidate who completed the licensure process in 2019 did so two months sooner than those in 2018. Meanwhile, the average male candidate who completed the licensure process in 2019 did so just one month sooner than the average male candidate in 2018.

Note: NCARB recognizes that not all individuals identify as male or female. However, NCARB’s data currently uses the same sex categorization as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Racial and Ethnic Diversity Increases at Most Career Stages

Racial and ethnic diversity increased at nearly every career stage in 2019, with the most growth being seen in the proportion of people of color who completed the experience program and began the examination. Thirty-seven percent of candidates who completed the AXP and 39 percent of those beginning the ARE in 2019 identified as non-white or Hispanic, increasing 4 percentage points each.

In 2019, the proportion of individuals who identify as non-white or Hispanic completing core requirements and becoming new NCARB Certificate holders both increased by 2 percentage points.

The majority of the growth in racial and ethnic representation at each career stage has been seen in the Hispanic/Latino and Asian populations. No increases were seen in the proportion of Black or African American individuals in the profession at any career stage. While the consistent growth in racial and ethnic diversity seen over the past several years indicates improvements in representation are slowly working down the licensure pipeline, the deeper demographic breakdown highlights that this is not equal for each race or ethnicity.

Note: NCARB uses the same categories for race and ethnicity as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Women in the Profession More Diverse Than Men

The proportion of women who identify as a racial or ethnic minority is higher than the proportion of men who identify as a racial or ethnic minority at every career stage. The key area of difference is in the Asian demographic—at any given career stage, the proportion of women who identify as Asian is 4 to 10 percentage points higher than the proportion of men who identify as Asian at the same stage.

Over half of women who started an NCARB Record in 2019 identified as a racial or ethnic minority, with 22 percent of new female Record holders identifying as Asian.

Note: NCARB uses the same categories for race and ethnicity as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Proportion of African American Men Higher Than African American Women

Although the proportion of men who identify as a racial or ethnic minority is lower than the proportion of women at each career stage, the proportion of men who identify as Black or African American is larger than the proportion of women—especially in early career stages.

Six percent of new male NCARB Record holders and 5 percent of men beginning the AXP identified as Black or African American, compared to 4 percent of women at each stage.

When compared with data from the joint NOMA and NCARB survey conducted in 2020, which highlighted disproportionate impediments for women of color in architecture, this suggests that there may be additional barriers preventing African American women from progressing in the profession.

Note: NCARB uses the same categories for race and ethnicity as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Diversity Continues to Improve at Experience Completion

The proportion of individuals completing the AXP who identify as non-white or Hispanic has reached a record high at 37 percent—4 percentage points higher than in 2018 and 16 higher than in 2010. The growth since 2018 was primarily seen in the proportion of Asian and Hispanic/Latino candidates, which increased by 2 and 1 percentage points, respectively.

The proportion of people of color who complete the experience component has been steadily increasing since 2014, pointing toward future improvements in the representation of non-white individuals who are practicing architects.

Note: NCARB uses the same categories for race and ethnicity as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Growth in Diversity Slows at ARE Completion

The proportion of individuals completing the ARE in 2019 who identify as people of color was 21 percent, unchanged compared to 2018 and only a 3 percentage point improvement compared to the racial and ethnic representation seen a decade ago.

Racial and ethnic diversity has been much slower to grow in this cohort than in AXP completions (which has seen a 16 percentage point improvement over the decade). While the disparity between white and non-white or Hispanic candidates has been gradually decreasing in other areas, this shift has not yet impacted the ARE.

Note: NCARB uses the same categories for race and ethnicity as the U.S. Census Bureau.

Latino Candidates Complete Licensure Requirements Soonest

On average, Hispanic or Latino candidates consistently complete their education, experience, and examination requirements sooner than their peers. In 2019, Latino candidates finished the core licensure requirements in an average of 10.5 years, 2.2 years sooner than the overall average.

Candidates who identify as Black or African American took an average of 14.5 years to finish the licensure process—1.8 years longer than the overall average.

For comparison, Asian candidates took an average of 11 years, individuals who indicated their race/ethnicity as “other” took an average of 12.6 years, and white candidates took an average of 12.8 years.

Note: NCARB did not have sufficient demographic data to show the average time to licensure by race/ethnicity beyond 2016, or for candidates who identify as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or Native American/Alaskan Native.

Record Holders Around the World

Licensure candidates and NCARB Certificate holders are located in countries across the globe. Outside of the United States, the largest population of Record holders are based in Canada (739), the United Kingdom (102), the Republic of Korea (95), and China (87)—these numbers have not shifted much over the past several years.

Through mutual recognition arrangements, NCARB Certificate holders can pursue reciprocal licenses in Australia, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand.

In 2019, NCARB also added new international testing locations. The exam is now offered at Prometric test centers throughout the United States and Canada, as well as Australia, Argentina, Brazil, England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.