Just as a doctor, lawyer, dentist or engineer require licensure to protect public health, safety, and welfare—architects must also be licensed.
A significant part of becoming licensed is taking and passing the Architecture Registration Exam® (ARE).
National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) administers the ARE. NCARB is an organization that regulates the practice
of architecture through the development and application of standards for architect licensure.Its members represent architectural registration
boards across the United States and U.S. territories.
You can go to college, graduate, and earn a degree in architecture, but the road to becoming an architect doesn‘t stop there.
Benefits of Becoming Licensed
- Without the license, you aren‘t a legally sanctioned architect. You are not legally allowed to call yourself an architect until
you are licensed.
- With a license, you have the legal right to sign, seal or stamp architectural drawings.
- A licensed architect has solid credentials that add value to a firm.
- Becoming licensed may lower liability insurance rates—whether you are part of a firm or are a sole proprietor.
- You can‘t start your own business or architecture practice without a license.
- Having a license opens the doors to career advancement, greater earning potential throughout your career, and a higher
- You may also have more career flexibility and options for your long-term career path.
A great place to start your path to licensure is through education. To become licensed, an aspiring architect must earn a Bachelor of
Architecture,Master of Architecture or Doctor of Architecture degree from a school that is accredited by the National Architecture
Accrediting Board (NAAB).
Next, you may want to intern as part of the NCARB Internship Development Program (IDP). The IDP requires an intern to earn 5,600
hours of experience under the tutelage and supervision of licensed architects. It is possible to start interning with an IDP-approved
architect or architecture firm immediately after earning a high school diploma or commensurate certificate.
Last but certainly not least, you will need to pass the Architecture Registration Exam (ARE). Most states/jurisdictions will let you
take the ARE while you finish the IDP program, but you must first register for an NCARB record. This record allows the NCARB to
make sure you have fulfilled the requirements to take the exam.
The ARE has seven divisions. When you register, you will have to pay a $210 fee for each exam division. There is no predetermined
order in which you must take each exam division, but you will have to pass all seven exam divisions to become licensed.
The seven exam divisions are:
- Building Design and Construction Systems
- Building Systems
- Construction Documents and Services
- Programming, Planning, and Practice
- Schematic Design
- Site Planning and Design
- Structural Systems
NCARB plans to launch an entirely new ARE 5.0 exam format called ARE 5.0 late 2016. The current ARE 4.0 exam format will be
available until 2018, but it may continue to be updated as the test creators feel it is necessary. NCARB has announced that ARE 5.0
will not be any easier than the current exam, though it will have six divisions instead of the seven divisions of the current exam.
In the meantime, you need the right tools to help you prepare for the exam, and one important exam preparation tool is the ARE Review
Manual by David Kent Ballast. Pair the Review Manual with a comprehensive practice exam book for each division. A robust set of
flashcards is also available to help you remember key exam concepts. Instead of purchasing each book individually, try PPI‘s
Complete ARE Review Package (ARRP2), which includes these materials at a 15% package discount.
Think about the structures you pass every day—including schools, libraries, hospitals, government buildings, stores, and more—these
buildings were designed by architects. If your goal is to design buildings, open your own architecture practice, and/or advance within an
architecture firm, then it is a great time for you to start preparing to pass the ARE.