This report is based on data collected by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) during the 2020 calendar year, providing insight on the path to licensure.

NCARB maintains a database on licensure candidates and Certificate holders. This allows us to track the progression of candidates as they move through the AXP, ARE, and beyond.

Some of the data is self-reported, including age, race, gender, and geographic location. Other data is triggered by candidate actions such as starting the AXP or completing the ARE. NCARB also collects data from the U.S. jurisdictional licensing boards to provide a total count of architects.

Data from the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) was also used in this report to provide the number of students entering and graduating from NAAB-accredited programs.

How to Read This Report

To help readers understand the data presented in NCARB by the Numbers, here are some helpful pieces of information to keep in mind.

Reading Charts

Most NCARB by the Numbers charts show a year-over-year comparison of data from NCARB’s Record holders. For example, each bar in the chart below shows the average time it took for candidates to complete the experience program in a given year.

The y (or vertical) axis of this chart measures time in years, while the x (or horizontal) axis measures each individual year. Reading this chart, you can see the average licensure candidate who completed the AXP in 2020 took 4.5 years, a slight increase compared to 2019.

A note about averages: NCARB typically calculates the median, rather than the average or mean. The median provides a more accurate measure, because it better accounts for outliers that skew the overall dataset (like a candidate who take decades to complete a program).

Race and Ethnicity

Throughout this year’s report, we segment NCARB Record holder data by a variety of demographic factors, such as race and ethnicity, gender, and age.

Currently, NCARB’s Record holders have the option to self-identify as one race (American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black or African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, white, or other); customers can also self-identify as either Hispanic or Latino or not Hispanic or Latino. This means that a person can be white and not Hispanic or Latino; or Asian and Hispanic or Latino. 

For a more holistic view of race and ethnicity data, NCARB groups these data sets together. However, to make reading the race and ethnicity charts simpler, NCARB has grouped individuals who identify their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino and their race as white or other under “Hispanic or Latino.”

Individuals who identify their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino and their race as either American Indian or Alaskan Native, Asian, Black/African American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander make up a fraction of all NCARB customers. That’s why they are grouped here with other individuals of their race.

The chart above, for example, shows NCARB Record holders who have completed the experience program over the past decade, with data for each year segmented by race/ethnicity. When viewing the data accurately, you will see the proportion of individuals completing the AXP who identify as people of color reached a record high in 2020 at 43 percent—3 percentage points more than in 2019.

Percentage Changes vs. Percentage Point Changes

Throughout the 2021 NCARB by the Numbers, we refer to changes in the data as either “percentage point changes” and “percent changes.” Percent change measures the rate of change from one number to another (i.e., going from 40,000 to 50,000 is a 25 percent increase). Percentage point changes, on the other hand, measures the numerical difference in percentages (i.e., going from 40 percent to 50 percent is a 10 increase in percentage points).

NCARB typically uses percentage point changes when comparing proportions of different cohorts or groups—for example, when comparing the racial and ethnic makeup of candidates who completed the AXP in 2020 to 2019. Because the number of candidates completing the AXP each year is different, referring to the change in percentage points rather than the change in percent change allows for a more accurate comparison of the proportion of candidates who identify as people of color each year.

NCARB is constantly updating how we filter and present data in NCARB by the Numbers to provide the most accurate information. If you have questions or comments about this year’s NCARB by the Numbers, please reach out to us at


Age: Median age based on self-reported dates of birth.

Architect: An individual who is licensed to practice architecture by one of the 55 U.S. jurisdictions.

ARE: The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) is a multi-division exam used to assess a candidate’s knowledge and skills, and is required for initial licensure in all U.S. jurisdictions.

ARE/Exam Candidate: An NCARB Record holder who is currently taking the ARE.

ARE Completion: This data point is triggered when an exam candidate passes all ARE divisions.

AXP: The Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®) provides a framework to guide licensure candidates through earning and recording professional experience.

AXP Completion: This data point is triggered when a licensure candidate fulfills the AXP’s requirements and their Record has been evaluated by NCARB.

Early Eligibility: The ability to take the ARE before completing the AXP. Fifty-two of the 55 jurisdictions currently allow this overlap.

Licensure Candidate: An NCARB Record holder who is actively documenting experience and/or taking the ARE.

NAAB: The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) accredits U.S. professional programs in architecture. All U.S. jurisdictions accept degrees from NAAB-accredited programs for initial licensure.

NCARB Certificate: A credential available to architects that facilitates reciprocal licensure across U.S. jurisdictions, as well as Australia, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand.

New Record: A candidate’s successful application for an NCARB Record, which is often the first step on the path to licensure.

New Architect: NCARB does not receive reliable data regarding when a candidate first receives their license but estimates that a candidate becomes a new architect after becoming ready for licensure. “New Architects” includes candidates who became ready for licensure in 2020.

NOMA: The National Organization of Minority Architects

Non-Certified Architect: An architect who does not hold an NCARB Certificate.

Pass Rate: Percentage of division attempts that received a passing score on an ARE division out of the total number of attempts on that division.

People of Color: Individuals who identified their race as American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian; Black or African American; or Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, as well as individuals who indicated they were of Latino or Hispanic descent.

Ready for Licensure: The core requirements for licensure in the United States include gaining an education (typically a degree from a NAAB-accredited program), completing the AXP, and passing the ARE. Some jurisdictions have additional requirements that fall outside this “core,” such as a supplemental exam. NCARB considers a candidate ready for licensure when they have completed the core licensure requirements.

Reciprocal License: An architecture license issued by a jurisdiction as a result of the applicant holding an initial license in a separate jurisdiction.

Success Rate: An average of the pass rates for all ARE 5.0 divisions.