Boston—The latest architect licensing data indicates that the time to become an architect has decreased to an average of 12.5 years—from the time a student enrolls in school to the moment they receive a license. This is the eighth year in a row that the timeline to licensure has shortened, according to data from the 2017 edition of NCARB by the Numbers. This trend is driven by candidates completing the experience and examination programs concurrently and more quickly.

Released annually by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), NCARB by the Numbers provides exclusive insight into the number of U.S. architects, the pool of candidates working toward licensure, and diversity in the profession.

Timeline to Licensure

Over the past decade, NCARB has worked with licensing boards to streamline, update, and align two key pillars on the path to licensure: the Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™) and Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®). These efficiencies have led to a reduction in completion times. Plus, newly licensed architects are increasingly overlapping these two programs. As a result, the time it takes to earn a license has consistently improved, with architects now earning a license 9.6 months sooner than in 2015.

A closer look reveals that architects who earned an initial license in 2016 completed the AXP and ARE in just under six years. For comparison, architects licensed in 2015 took just under seven years to complete the two programs.

“By updating our programs to reflect the realities of modern practice, candidates can now pursue licensure in a way that fits their lifestyle,” said NCARB President Kristine Harding, NCARB, AIA. “With guidance from our licensing boards, NCARB has been able to open doors to a new pool of candidates while maintaining the rigor needed to protect the public’s safety.”

NCARB’s data also reveals that new architects are slightly younger. In 2016, the average age of a newly licensed architect was 32, an eight-month drop from the previous year. This marks the eighth year in a row that this benchmark has decreased, with architects earning a license 2.8 years sooner than a decade ago.

The full 2017 edition of NCARB by the Numbers will be available in July. To learn more about NCARB’s data, visit



The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.