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.
National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB) – How It Works & What You Need To Know
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) – How It Works & What You Need To Know
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.
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.