Licensing of Architects

An architect license is a certification obtained from the state that grants permission for a person to work as an architect. To receive this license, an architect must have the proper education and training. These requirements are determined by licensing boards that set varying qualifications by state.

The first step to getting an architect license is to enroll in an architecture program approved by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Those considering a program not approved by the NAAB should contact Evaluation Services for Architects (ESSA), which is a division of the NAAB. They deal primarily with architects from other countries, but they can help determine if the program being considered will enable the student to eventually get an architect license.  Along with education, hands-on experience and training are needed to become a registered architect.  After the required education and training take place, the architect-to-be is ready to take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

Once all licensing requirements are met, the applicant must register with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). Before the board can grant an architect license, the applicant must submit an application and fee, which varies by state and should be sent to the testing facility. Some states require a written summary of architectural rules and regulations. An architect license must be renewed every so often, depending on individual state requirements.

For instance, the Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.8 provides that the following are the requirements for submitting application for a certificate of architect’s license

  • Any individual of good character, who is a legal resident of Pennsylvania or who is in the employment of or under the direct supervision of an architect licensed with the board and who maintains a practice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania under a permanent Pennsylvania business address may apply for a certificate under this act.
  • Each applicant for a certificate shall submit evidence satisfactory to the board that the applicant holds a professional degree in architecture from an accredited school and has obtained at least three years’ practical experience in the employ of or under the direct supervision of a registered architect or as part of the applicant’s academic training.
  • In lieu of a professional degree in architecture, the board may accept evidence of at least six years’ practical experience obtained in the employ of or under the direct supervision of a registered architect which may include academic training.
  • The board may require that applicants who do not hold a professional degree in architecture must first pass a qualifying examination before being admitted to the licensing examination
  • The board may at its discretion adopt as its standards for minimum education and experience, the current guidelines on education, training and experience equivalents adopted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.

Each applicant for licensing who satisfies the above conditions shall submit to a licensing examination.  The examination shall cover such technical and professional subjects and shall be graded on such basis as the board shall by regulation prescribe. The board may at its discretion adopt the examination and recommended grading procedures adopted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.  The board may also require applicants under the Code of Pennsylvania. 63 P.S. § 34.8 to appear for a personal interview.


Inside Licensing of Architects