Washington, DC—The number of architects licensed in the United States rose to 121,997 in 2020, according to the annual Survey of Architectural Registration Boards. This is 5 percent more than the number of U.S. architects in 2019, a strong increase in initial (in-state) licenses despite the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the initial licensure pipeline. This corresponds to the continued demand for reciprocal (out-of-state) licenses seen throughout the pandemic.
Conducted annually by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the survey provides exclusive insight into data from the architectural licensing boards of the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Such significant growth in the architect population is especially significant given licensure trends in 2020, which saw a slowdown in completing the path to licensure due to test center closures, the transition of firms and other employers to remote work, and fluctuating demand for architectural services. Despite those recent, temporary setbacks, the number of architects has steadily grown throughout the past decade; there are now 17 percent more architects than there were in 2011.
The survey also revealed that the number of reciprocal (out-of-state) licenses continues to grow. There were 140,342 reciprocal licenses reported in 2020, 2 percent more than in 2019 and nearly 20,000 higher than the number of individual architects. This indicates that architects continue to take advantage of the existing mobility pathways within the profession, with the average U.S. architect licensed in at least two states.
The survey reflects registration data as of December 2020. Additional data on the path to licensure will be available in the 2021 edition of NCARB by the Numbers.
|District of Columbia||3,522||622||4,144|
|Northern Mariana Islands||7||32||39|
|U. S. Virgin Islands***||163||948||1,111|
|121,997 Resident||140,342 Reciprocal||262,339 Total|
*Ratio of reciprocal vs. resident licenses estimated based on national data.
**Data from 2018 survey
*** Data from 2019 survey
**** Data from 2015 survey
The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural licensing boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB, in collaboration with these boards, facilitates the licensure and credentialing of architects to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
To achieve these goals, NCARB works with its Member Boards and volunteers to develop and facilitate standards for licensure, including the national examination and experience program. NCARB also recommends regulatory guidelines for licensing boards and helps architects expand their professional reach through the NCARB Certificate.