By: Holly Williams Leppo, AIA, NCIDQ-certified, LEED AP

The recently introduced AXP Portfolio program from NCARB recognizes that not all careers follow the same trajectory. Now, individuals with non-linear career paths have the opportunity to complete the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) and become licensed architects.

The AXP Portfolio is NCARB’s way of reaching out to those who left the profession before becoming licensed, so that they have an opportunity to explore licensure again. This program is designed for those who have previously worked in an architectural firm, but who decided to pursue other career or personal opportunities in lieu of becoming licensed within the traditional timeframe.

Individuals who have not logged every hour of their professional activities can now obtain their license through this new program. Candidates must have a minimum of two years of full-time architectural or building-related work experience, acquired at least five years ago. One of these two years must have been full-time employment in an architecture firm under the direct supervision of a licensed architect. Candidates may apply for the AXP Portfolio program online by submitting a summary of their work experience. When approved, rather than tracking and reporting hours, AXP Portfolio candidates submit exhibits demonstrating proficiency in all experience areas.

Through this collection of work products, reports, drawings, and contract documents, the applicant must prove that his or her work experience is comparable to that acquired in a traditional AXP setting. The work included in the portfolio may have been performed while employed in a variety of roles, and is not required to have been completed under the supervision of a licensed architect. Portfolio submissions are then reviewed by a licensed architect supervisor who meets the criteria established in NCARB’s AXP Guidelines.

In addition to satisfactory review of the portfolio, candidates must fulfill all of the educational and examination requirements for the jurisdiction in which they intend to practice. Most states require a professional degree (B.Arch or M.Arch) from an institution accredited by the National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB). All states require successful completion of the Architect Registration Exam (ARE), and some require passing scores on supplemental exams.

The AXP Portfolio is accepted in most states with the exception of about a dozen. Candidates should verify the requirements for the state in which they plan to become licensed before pursuing the AXP Portfolio option.