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Getting Licensed

There are 3 main steps to becoming licensed to practice architecture.

Education – For candidates seeking licensure, a professional degree in architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) fulfills the requirement.

Experience – For recent graduates entering the profession, completion of the Intern Development Program (IDP) is required and fulfills the requirement.

Examination – Candidates seeking licensure in California are required to complete the Architectural Registration Examination. In addition to the ARE, the California Architects Board requires the California Supplemental Examination (CSE) for licensure.

Resources for Licensure

National Council of Architecture Registration Boards(NCARB)

What is it? A membership organization of the architectural registration boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).

What do they do? NCARB primarily design tools and procedures for jurisdictions their regulation of the path to licensure. These range from internship guidelines to licensing examination to certification for reciprocal licensing.

What do I need to know? NCARB maintains records for it’s 54 member boards. As candidates, we both record our IDP progress and register for exams through our NCARB login.

California Architects Board (CAB)

What is it? The state entity responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public through the regulation of the practice of architecture in California. The CAB is administered through the Department of Consumer Affairs.

What do they do? The CAB establishes regulations for examination and licensing of the profession of architecture in California. There are approximately 21,000 licensed architects and 11,000 candidates who are in the process of meeting examination and licensure requirements.

What do I need to know? The CAB verifies your eligibility for licensure and grants licenses to practice architecture in the state of California. They also register you to take the CSE.

  • The NCARB will notify the CAB within seven to ten days that you passed all divisions of the ARE.
  • After completion of IDP, you must request NCARB to transit your IDP Record to the Board.
  • Candidates will be mailed a notice of their California Supplemental Examinations (CSE) eligibility status once all required documentation has be received by the CAB and an Application for CSE.

Resources for Interns

Salary Survey
For in depth salary information, visit this website or stop by our office to view the comprehensive salary survey.

This nonprofit, think tank offers insight on architectural education, internship, and licensure.

The Survival Guide to Architectural Internship and Career Development by Grace H. Kim, AIA is published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Becoming an Architect: A Guide to Careers in Design by Lee Waldrep, is also published by Wiley

Architecture Registration Exam (ARE) Exam Prep

ARE Study Group meets every Wednesday, 5pm at 424 Olive Street, and have occasional guest speakers on topics regarding licensure exams. This is a support group to get through the licensing process by sharing resources, knowledge, and experiences. There is a 20% Kaplan discount for AIASB associates.

Emerging Professionals Lectures are on the first Wednesday of each month at 6pm at varying locations in Santa Barbara. These lectures are meant to provide guiding information from industry professionals.

For more information, you can contact the Associate Director Erica Obertelli

Study materials:

Brightwood | Kaplan | Ballast | Norman Dorf | ARE Forum

Thank you Brightwood for sending AIASB ARE Study materials for our Emerging Professionals!

ARE 4.0 to ARE 5.0 Transition

The NCARB transition plan from 4.0 to 5.0 is set to launch in late 2016. NCARB 4.0 will retire on 30 June 2018. Find out more information about the updated credit model HERE

ARE 5.0 Handbook

Click Here for the ARE 5.0 Handbook

Links to AIA National’s ARE Webpage

Click here for the AIA|ARE Prep page

Click here for National’s ARE Resources page

Links to NCARB Sign-In Page

Click Here for the Overview Page 

Click Here for licensing information

Ready to Take the Test?

Prometric Testing Centers

NCARB Feedback On Exams  

NCARB receiving feedback video can be found at

NCARB offers a service called a score verification where an architect at NCARB reviews the candidate’s performance on both their multiple-choice and vignette sections of a division and provides that feedback to the candidate directly. It provides candidates better understanding of their performance:

  • For each multiple-choice section of a division, the review helps identify the greatest areas for improvement above and beyond the current level 1, 2 or 3 feedback already provided on the score report.
  • For each vignette that candidate had issues with, the review provides insights into the critical issues that caused the candidate to perform anything less than a level 1.

There is a $100 fee to have this manual verification done, but for some candidates, it is certainly a much better option than continuing to pay a full exam fee just to try again”. The other benefit of a score verification is that it is available to all ARE candidates regardless of which jurisdiction they are testing under. Score verifications are private between the candidate and NCARB and cannot be shared through a third-party, therefore, candidates can contact NCARB Customer Service at 202/879-0520 to begin the review process if they so desire.

If the candidate does not want a score verification, we also have a YouTube Site Zoning video that describes this vignette (and common candidate errors) available free. I also hope the candidate is using the ARE 4.0 Google+ community to learn from other ARE candidates and have their questions addressed by the NCARB moderators.

Rules About Using Titles

What You Can & Cannot Call Yourself

  • In the profession of architecture, you cannot call yourself an architect or provide architecture services unless you are licensed. All states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories require individuals to be licensed (registered) before they may call themselves architects or contract to provide architecture services.
  • Currently, unlicensed individuals are simply referred to as “interns” or, though NCARB intends to remove the term “intern” and is working towards finding a suitable replacement term.
  • Per the Architects Practice Act, a non-licensed individual is prohibited from using any term confusingly similar to the word architect. This includes referring oneself as an ‘architectural designer’ and using the words architect, architecture, and/or architectural. Associate AIA members may use ‘Associate member of the American Institute of Architects’, ‘Associate AIA’, or ‘Assoc. AIA’. Contact the California Architects Board for further clarification.
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