Gender representation and racial and ethnic diversity both saw significant increases in 2020 at several key stages on the path to licensure.

Infographic showing key findings from the demographics section of NCARB by the Numbers.

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, with the proportion of new Record holders who identify as people of color now equal to the proportion of white candidates. 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 career stages and the time to licensure. For program-specific data, see  Demographics: AXP and ARE.

While the proportion of women starting an NCARB Record and reporting experience (46 and 47 percent, respectively) did not change compared to 2019 proportions, slight improvements were seen at all other career stages. The proportion of women testing rose to 46 percent in 2020. And the proportion of new women architects also increased to 41 percent—up 3 percentage points from 2019.

Though NCARB is not currently seeing equal proportions of men and women at any career stage, the steady increase in the proportion of women in the profession (including female licensed architects, who now represent 24 percent of the architect population) indicates that the profession continues to make progress toward gender parity.

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 increased or held steady at every career stage in 2020, with the proportion of new Record holders who identify as people of color now equal to the proportion of white candidates. For candidates testing, the proportion of people of color also rose to 44 percent, a 2 percentage point increase.

The proportion of candidates of color who completed the licensure path and became architects (roughly 29 percent) increased by 4 percentage points compared to 2019. The proportion of all architects who are people of color stayed the same from 2019 to 2020, at 16 percent. 

While these increases in diversity are significant, they are confined to the Asian and Hispanic or Latino communities. The proportion of candidates identifying as Black or African American has not changed at most career stages, and African Americans continue to be underrepresented in the architecture profession when compared to U.S. Census data.

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.

Women in the profession continue to be more diverse than men in the profession, with a higher percentage of women identifying as a person of color at each career stage.

The key area of difference is seen among Asian professionals—at any given career stage, the proportion of Asian women is 5 to 7 percentage points higher than the proportion of Asian men.

Additionally, over half (53 percent) of women who started an NCARB Record in 2020 identified as a person of color, with the majority identifying as Asian (21 percent) or Hispanic or Latino (20 percent).

For men in the profession, racial and ethnic diversity increased at most career stages in 2020. Nine percent of new male architects, for example, now identify as Hispanic or Latino.

Although the proportion of men of color is lower than the proportion of women of color at each career stage, the proportion of African American men taking the ARE is one percentage point higher than the proportion of African American women.

On average, women consistently complete their education, experience, and examination requirements sooner than their male peers. In 2020, the average woman completed the path in roughly 11.9 years, similar to previous years. Men took 12.9 years on average to complete the path, approximately 2 months sooner than in 2019.

The difference between the average time each gender takes to complete the licensure path has remained relatively steady in recent years, widening by just two months compared to the gap seen a decade ago.

In 2020, Asian candidates were ready for licensure sooner than their peers, finishing the path in 11.1 years. This is over a year sooner than candidates of any other race or ethnicity. Black or African American candidates taking the longest at 15.2 years.

For comparison, the average overall time to licensure in 2020 was 12.3 years—similar to the time seen for white and Latino candidates (12.4 and 12.3 years, respectively).

While most racial or ethnic groups have reduced their average time to licensure at least slightly since 2017, the average Black or African American candidate took over a year longer in 2020 than they did in 2017.

Note: NCARB does not have sufficient demographic data to show the average time to licensure by race/ethnicity beyond 2017, or for candidates who identify as Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander or Native American/Alaskan Native (these individuals are included in the “Other” category.

To help provide a clearer picture of the differences in time to licensure by age, NCARB compares the time from the date a candidate started their NCARB Record to the date they completed their final licensure requirement—as opposed to other “time to licensure” charts, which use the date a candidate began their college degree as the start date. This provides a more accurate comparison for older candidates, who may have earned an unrelated degree earlier in their careers. 

Candidates in the 18-29 age group completed the licensure process the soonest, taking just 5.2 years on average. This is over two years sooner than those in the 30-39 age group, who took an average of 7.6 years.

Candidates aged 40-54 and 55+ took an average of 11.6 and 11.1 years, respectively.

Note: The pool of candidates over 55 years old is very small, which can lead to dramatic fluctuations in time to licensure from year to year.

Licensure candidates and NCARB Certificate holders can be found in many countries across the globe. Outside of the United States, the largest population of Record holders are based in Canada (730), the United Kingdom (118), the Republic of Korea (106), and China (100). These numbers represent slight increases from 2019, though 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 in Hong Kong, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and more.