How to Influence Your Time to Licensure

Jenny Kawecki

Jenny Kawecki

Content Producer, NCARB

It’s no secret that it takes time to build up the knowledge and skills necessary to become an architect—in 2015, the average candidate earned a license in 13.3 years (including time spent earning a degree). As NCARB has worked with licensure boards to streamline programs and requirements, that number has steadily dropped.

The time to licensure has been decreasing for the past seven years, with architects earning a license almost five months sooner than in 2014. This trend should continue, especially as more licensure candidates benefit from recent program changes—such as a reduction in required hours and the ability to overlap the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) and experience.

Even though the average candidate takes 13.3 years to earn a license, some candidates complete the process much sooner. We recognize there are a variety of factors that influence the timeline to licensure, including the time it takes to complete the ARE, as well as economic and personal circumstances. But, after years of tracking licensure data, we’ve identified several key factors than can impact the time it takes you to achieve that major career goal.

Type of Degree

When it comes to degrees in architecture, you have two options: attending a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) or a non-accredited program. Most U.S. jurisdictions prefer (if not require) a NAAB-accredited degree. If you graduated with a degree from a non-accredited program, you may have to complete additional education requirements, lengthening your time to licensure.

In 2015, newly licensed architects who earned a degree from a NAAB-accredited program, reported experience before graduation, and took at least one exam while completing their experience earned a license in just under 11 years—almost two years sooner than the average candidate. 

When You Start Earning Experience

You can start earning and reporting hours toward your experience requirement as soon as you graduate high school (or the established equivalent). In general, candidates who begin earning experience in college will also earn a license earlier.

Overlapping Experience and Examination

Currently, 50 out of 54 U.S. jurisdictions allow you to take the ARE before completing the AXP. Overlapping the examination and experience requirements helps candidates move along the path to licensure, and allows candidates to test as they gain the experience relevant to a particular ARE division.

Explore more statistics on licensure and the architectural profession in the 2016 NCARB by the Numbers data center.

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