How to Become an Architect - Architecture Career Guide
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How to Become an Architect

how to become an architect

General requirements on how to become an Architect

So you want to know how to become an Architect? Well, in order to become an Architect, you must go through a licensing process. The reason for licensing Architects is that it ensures the person practicing architecture has the abilities required to protect the “Health, Safety, and Welfare” of the public. If there were no licensing requirements and buildings the public uses were designed by somebody without the proper training, it creates a huge risk for everyone and could cause major problems for society as a whole.

In order to go through the licensing process, you have to determine which state you want to practice in, as they all have slightly differing requirements. At the end of this post you will find a map where you can click to find more information on the specific state(s) you are considering.

Regardless of the state, there is a typical method to getting licensed, which is the go through “education, experience, and examination.” This means that you must in some way get the education you need, through schooling or work, get the experience you need in the right areas and pass the exams that determine you have the minimum requirements necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public.

There are various agencies that determine the requirements and help you get through the process for each phase and explain how to become an Architect. Each state will have their own licensing board who has the final say on whether you are allowed to practice architecture in that state. Nationally, there is an association of these state boards called the National Council of Registration Boards, or NCARB for short. The role of NCARB has increased throughout the years and many states are using them as a standard. NCARB is generally responsible for tracking and verifying your education and experience and administering the exams.

Most states require you to receive the necessary architecture education before you are even allowed to take the exams (although the ways around this will be a later post). The way they determine what is a necessary is through an accrediting process the schools goes through in order to offer the appropriate degree. This is administered through the National Architectural Accrediting Board, or NAAB. NAAB verifies through periodic audits that the schools offering these professional degrees are maintaining the level of education required for the students.

Once you have your education complete through a NAAB accredited university, you will need to continue learning through occupation. You are required to have a certain number of years or hours (depending by State) in addition to your education before they allow you to take the exams. A lot of States currently do this through NCARB in their Intern Development Program, or IDP. The IDP is intended to make sure that you are not just working for a few years in the architecture field doing the same task, but actually learning what you need in all tasks in order to perform as an Architect. This program identifies areas that are required and how many hours you should have in each category before you can be licensed.

Once you have your education and experience complete, you can now take your Architect Registration Exams, or ARE’s. The ARE’s are exams in different categories intended to ensure you have the minimum required ability to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public. These are exams that can be taken in any order at any time of the year, but you are required to pass all seven, and if you fail any of them, you need to retake them until you pass, in order to become licensed.

The process described above is what has been setup by most states and NCARB as the typical path describing how to become an Architect, but every State has different requirements, so click on your state on the home page to determine your specific requirements.

You can find all of this information and more in the new Beginner’s Guide: How to Become an Architect book, available now!