With nearly 115,000 Record holders, more than 400 licensing board members, and over 350 volunteers, NCARB’s community continues to grow. In 2021, our volunteers—made up of architects, licensure candidates, educators, and experts from other professions—came together across 24 committees to write exam questions, explore the future of architecture, develop resources for licensing boards, and more.
With 55 architectural licensing boards in the United States, each with its own rules and requirements, NCARB works to provide board support, encourage program alignment, and assist individuals seeking licensure.
Over 114,000 individuals held an active NCARB Record in 2021, a 1% increase compared to 2020. Of those Record holders, 42% are architects with an NCARB Certificate (a 1 percentage point increase from 2020), and 5% are architects without a Certificate (no change from 2020).
The proportion of Record holders actively working toward licensure fell by 2 percentage points in 2020 (now at 25%). The remaining 29 percent of individuals are licensure candidates who haven’t taken a division of the ARE or reported AXP hours in the last year (up 3 percentage points since 2020). This is likely an ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the number of candidates reporting experience and taking the exam is still below pre-pandemic levels.
Note: The numbers represented in this chart reflect active Record holders as of December 31, 2022.
In 2021, over 48,000 architects held an active NCARB Certificate—an increase of 3% from 2020 and a new record high. The number of Certificate holders has been steadily increasing over the past five years, with a slight lull in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The NCARB Certificate simplifies the process of earning additional licenses in U.S. jurisdictions, as well as in select international locations including Australia, Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand. Certified architects also have access to free continuing education opportunities through NCARB’s Continuum Education Program.
Over 7,500 candidates opened an NCARB Record in 2021—over 2,000 more than in 2020 (an increase of 37%). While still below the levels seen prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, this signals that the licensure pipeline is on course to return to near-normal levels in the coming years.
NCARB considers creating an NCARB Record the first step on the path to licensure, as candidates need a Record to verify their education, document professional experience, and take the licensing exam.
When candidates apply for an initial license or architects apply for a reciprocal (out-of-state) license, NCARB transmits their Record to the jurisdiction’s licensing board in support of their application.
At over 16,000, the number of both initial and reciprocal transmittals increased in 2021, with the total number of transmittals exceeding the numbers seen in 2017-2019 (prior to the pandemic). Of those 16,000 transmittals, more than 12,000 were in support of reciprocal licensure applications—an all-time high. While the number of initial licensure applications is still lower than those seen prior to the pandemic, the rise in the number of applications for reciprocal licensure indicates that the demand for professional mobility is stronger than ever.