Requirements of an Architecture Career
Becoming an architect is a long, competitive process, and it is also an ongoing one. Even after architects have fulfilled all of the educational and experience requirements and have earned their coveted professional license, they often must maintain it by continuing education that keeps them current in the latest technologies in the field.
- Five-Year Bachelor of Architecture Programs
- Two-Year Master of Architecture Programs
- Three- or Four-Year Master of Architecture Programs
- Architecture Internships
- Voluntary Certification through NCARB
- Continuing Education
The steps required to become an architect (which do not necessarily occur in linear order) are:
- Earn a Professional, Accredited Degree – Several options are available for earning a professional architecture degree. Students can earn a five-year Bachelor of Architecture degree from top architecture schools that have programs accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). They can also obtain a four-year undergraduate pre-professional degree focused on architecture or related studies, and then go on to acquire a two-year Master of Architecture degree from an NAAB-accredited program. Students who have earned undergraduate degrees in other disciplines can complete an accredited three- or four-year Master of Architecture program. Because each state architectural registration board sets its own standards, there are a few states where graduation from a non-accredited architecture program may satisfy the educational requirements for eventual licensure.
- Participate in an Internship or Other Practical Work Experience – Students must also gain hands-on training in the field by undergoing three years of internship or other practical work experience in an architecture firm or an architecture-related business. Most internships are conducted through a training program called the Internship Development Program (IDP), which is offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).
- Pass the Architect Registration Exam – The Architect Registration Exam (ARE) is a comprehensive seven-part exam that is offered through NCARB on a yearly basis. Students must pass all seven divisions of the exam to become eligible for a license, although they do not take all divisions at once. They may also take each division in any order at any time.
- Get a License – Even though architecture school graduates may work in the profession without a license or while in the process of getting one, they cannot legally call themselves an architect until they have been licensed or registered through one of the 54 local NCARB boards located in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U. S. Virgin Islands). There are no national requirements for licensure; each state or jurisdiction sets its own standards and prerequisites, which can change at any time.
Most jurisdictions also require continuing education in order for architects to maintain and renew their licenses.
Last Updated: 08/20/2013