Gender representation and racial and ethnic diversity both saw significant increases in 2020 at several key stages on the path to licensure.
NCARB continued to see near equal representation of men and women early on the path to licensure, with women accounting for 47 percent of individuals reporting hours toward the experience program and 46 percent of individuals testing. Additionally, 2020 saw continued slight increases in gender representation along later career stages, including a 3 percentage point increase in the proportion of new women architects to 41 percent.
Racial and ethnic diversity also increased or held steady at all career stages in 2020. For the first time in NCARB history, candidates identifying as a person of color matched the proportion of white candidates who were New Record Holders at 50 percent. Additionally, the proportion of individuals completing the AXP who identify as non-white or Hispanic has reached a record high at 43 percent—6 percentage points higher than in 2019 and a 16 percentage point increase over the past decade.
However, it is worth noting that 2020’s increases in racial and ethnic diversity are limited to the Asian and Hispanic or Latino population. The proportion of African American candidates in the profession has seen little change over the past decade and continues to be underrepresented when compared to the U.S. Census data.
Though women and people of color remain underrepresented within the profession overall, 2020’s data suggests that the gradual improvements in early career stages seen in recent years are beginning to filter through to later stages on the path to licensure.
This page contains data about demographics for the AXP and ARE. For career and licensure data, see Demographics: Career Stages and Licensure.
The proportion of women who completed the AXP in 2020 increased by 2 percentage points to 44 percent. This is an 8 percent increase from a decade ago, when women made up just 36 percent of AXP completions.
With near-equitable proportions of men and women starting the experience program over the past three years, the proportion of women completing the AXP should continue to increase over the next several years. For reference, the average candidate 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.
The proportion of individuals completing the AXP who identify as people of color has reached a record high at 43 percent—3 percentage points higher than in 2019 and 17 percentage points higher than in 2011. The growth was primarily seen in the proportions of Asian and Latino candidates.
The proportion of candidates of color completing the experience program has been steadily increasing since 2014, a trend that should lead to future improvements in diversity among architects.
Note: To make reading NBTN’s race and ethnicity charts simpler, NCARB has grouped individuals who identify their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino and their race as white or other. Individuals who identify their ethnicity as Hispanic or Latino and their race as either Asian or Black/African American make up a fraction of a percent and are grouped here with other individuals of their race. To see exact percentages of the racial and ethnic makeup of each career stage, please view the Appendix. NCARB’s Record holders have the same race and ethnicity options as those used by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Professionals aged 18-29 make up the majority of candidates completing the experience program at 50 percent—roughly a 1 percentage point increase since 2019. Candidates aged 30-39 represent the second largest age group for experience program completions at 36 percent—a 1 percentage point decrease compared to 2019.
The proportion of candidates aged 40-54 and 55+ who completed the program saw no change compared to 2019 at 11 percent and 2 percent, respectively.
In 2020, roughly 42 percent of candidates who completed the exam were women. This represents a 3 percentage point increase from the past two years and sets a new high for the proportion of women candidates completing the ARE.
Over the past decade, gender representation in candidates finishing the exam has increased by roughly 10 percentage points. In 2011, women made up only 32 percent of candidates completing the ARE. 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 have impacts further along the pipeline.
Twenty-nine percent of candidates who completed the ARE in 2020 identified as a person of color, a 4 percentage point increase from the previous year, and a new record high. This 4 percentage point uptick also represents the biggest single-year gain over the last decade.
Racial and ethnic diversity has been slow to progress at this point on the path to licensure, increasing just 7 percentage points since 2011. This is significantly less than increases in racial and ethnic diversity at the point of AXP completion, which has seen a 17 percentage point improvement over the past decade. Nevertheless, 2020 data represents a positive shift from recent years.
Asian and Hispanic or Latino candidates saw the biggest representation increases at this career stage compared to 2019, and now make up 14 and 9 percent of candidates completing the exam (a 2 percentage point increase for both groups). Black or African American candidates, on the other hand, remained at just 2 percent and are the least represented group compared to U.S. Census data.
Similar to recent years, the majority of candidates (50 percent) completing the ARE in 2020 were aged between 30-39. Candidates aged 18-29 make up the second largest age group at 32 percent.
When viewed over a decade, the age of candidates completing the ARE has shifted slightly toward younger candidates—with the 30-39 age group decreasing by 9 percentage points and the 18-29 age group increasing by 9 percentage points since 2011.
This trend toward younger candidates has not caused a decrease in the proportion of older candidates completing the exam. The 40-54 category is relatively unchanged compared to 2011, as is the 55+ age group, which make up 16 and 2 percent of candidates completing the exam, respectively. These shifts could be tied to more interest in NCARB’s alternative licensure pathways, which were refreshed in 2016-2017.