Tips for Starting the AXP

Gaining and documenting professional experience is an essential part of your path to becoming an architect. NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®) provides a framework to guide you through this process and outlines the job tasks you must be able to competently perform before you’re able to practice architecture independently. You’ll demonstrate that you can perform those tasks by reporting experience hours across the AXP’s six practice-based areas.

As you work to complete the experience program, follow these tips to make the most of your experience and streamline your path to earning a license.

Review the AXP Guidelines
Everything you need to know about the experience program is detailed in the AXP Guidelines, including what types of work qualify for AXP credit, descriptions of each experience area, and a list of tasks that fall under those areas.

Be sure to read the guidelines to make sure that your work experience meets all the necessary requirements! For example, you must be paid for your work (unless you’re volunteering for a qualifying nonprofit organization) to earn AXP credit.

Report Experience Early and Often
To earn full credit toward the AXP, you must report any experience within eight months of earning it—this is what NCARB refers to as the “reporting requirement.”

For example, if you worked at an architecture firm over the summer and your experience qualifies for AXP credit, you’ll have until February 1, 2022, to report the experience earned on June 1, 2021. If you don’t report your experience within the eight-month window, don’t worry—you can count it toward your AXP requirements for up to five years, but at the reduced rate of 50 percent credit. 

Meet With Your Supervisor Regularly
You’ll need a supervisor to review and approve your experience reports. In most cases, your supervisor will be an architect who has direct supervision over your work, but be sure to review the requirements for AXP supervisors in the AXP Guidelines to ensure that your supervisor is eligible.

Talk with your supervisor to determine a schedule for check-ins, and meet with them regularly to review your experience reports, get feedback on your progress, and identify next steps for your professional development. Use our sample worksheet to help guide your check-ins, and check out our resources for AXP supervisors.

Keep an Eye Out for Other Opportunities
Half of your AXP experience will need to be earned while working for an architect licensed in the U.S. or Canada, under the employment of a firm lawfully practicing architecture. But there are a number of other opportunities for AXP experience—including design and construction work, work for other licensed professionals (like engineers or landscape architects), volunteering for an nonprofit like Freedom by Design, and more! You can take advantage of these opportunities to earn hours in harder-to-reach areas.