November 19, 2019

What are the steps to become a licensed architect?

It’s a 3 part process which consist of:

  1. Education – Earning an accredited architecture degree. (5-7 years)
  2. Experience – Documenting on the job experience, under the supervision of a licensed architect. (5,600 Hours)
  3. Exam – Passing a 7 part licensing exam, each test completed on various aspects of the profession.

This process is lengthy and is no easy feat. However, it is not impossible and the rewards you can reap by becoming a licensed architect are numerous.

The Educational Requirements

For licensure in most states a candidate must hold a professional degree in architecture from an institution accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). There are currently over 100 architecture schools to choose from.

There are currently three different professional architecture degrees available.

  • The Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) requires a minimum of 150 credit hours in professional studies and electives.
  • The Master of Architecture (MArch) degree requires a minimum of 168 credit hours, 30 of which must be graduate level.
  • The Doctor of Architecture (DArch) requires a baccalaureate degree or 120 undergraduate credit hours in addition to a minimum of 90 graduate credit hours.

Experience Requirements

The Intern Development Program (IDP) represents a program designed to aid architecture students in learning and developing within the work force. Most states require that a student complete this type of internship before they can become licensed in that state.

The IDP is a thorough and comprehensive program that requires experience in several different settings. Its purpose is to ensure that architecture graduates gain the professional experience, knowledge and skills to practice effectively as independent architects. The intern architect student is closely supervised by a licensed architect or professional in another discipline.

Interns most commonly work within architecture firms where they begin to become familiar with the application of their education. They may assist in design projects, prepare documents as well as research specific building codes and many other projects.

The IDP requires the completion of 5,600 field experience hours within 17 different categories. The experience hours are documented by the intern and the discussed with and signed off by the supervisor. This information is submitted to NCARB on a regular basis.

The Architect Registration Exam

The Architect Registration Exam (ARE) is required in all 54 jurisdictions within the United States. The exam is broken down into seven different sections;

  • Construction Documents and Services (CDS)
  • Programming, Planning and Practice (PPP)
  • Site Planning and Design (SPD
  • Schematic Design (SD)
  • Structural Systems (SS)
  • Building Systems (BS)
  • Building Design and Construction Systems (BDCS)

Each exam is formatted differently but multiple choice and graphical vignettes are distributed throughout.

The completing Architecture Registration Exam is a very unique experience. The process is a self guided experience where ARE Candidates (what you call people taking the exam) study and take the exams on their own schedule. Some people do them all under a year however most people take atleast 2 1/2 years to complete the process.

Taking the ARE is drastically different then attending architecture school, due to the massive amounts of information that is being tested through the seven exams. Learning how to handle such a challenging exam is often the hardest part.

Recently YoungArchitect.com published a book called How To Pass The Architecture Registration Exam to help ARE Candidates wrap their head around the entire ARE process and set themselves up for success in moving through this crazy multi year, self guided, test taking journey towards becoming a Licensed Architect

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