If building design is your chosen career path, congratulations! Are you interested in residential or commercial architecture? If you choose residential, you can do so without having to meet the requirements to be an architect. However, there are architects who specialize in residential architecture. Licensure or registration is not require in most states to practice residential design. You have the option of choosing a Home designer or Architect to create what would be your perfect home plan design. However, if you want to do commercial buildings, earning an architect degree is essential in order to become a licensed architect.
Steps to take for requirements to be an architect
To become an architect, you must go through a series of four important steps to obtain your goal. First you begin with education at an institution for higher learning that is accredited by the governing board NAAB or CACB for Canadian citizens. Next you gain on the job training by interning. After your internship, you will have to take a lengthy test. When you pass the test, you will have completed the requirements to be an architect.
Attend an Accredited School (Education)
According to the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), there are currently 154 schools offering programs for professional architectural degrees in the United States at 125 institutions. Students have to earn a professional degree in architecture that is accredited by the NAAB in the United States. There are three types of professional degrees in architecture in which you can obtain. They are the Bachelor of Architecture (5 year program), the Master of Architecture (6 year program), and the Doctor of Architecture.
If you plan to practice architecture in Canada, you must earn a degree from a school accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). According to CACB, there are 11 Canadian Universities – Schools of Architecture. As in the U.S., the professional degrees are equal in type and the time required in the program.
Do Intern Development (Architect Intern)
This is a transition device designed to move architectural students to licensed architects. Every state or jurisdiction has requirement for work experience. Every hour of work experience must be documented and completed prior to being examined. This work experience is known as architectural internship or the intern development program. Jointly crafted by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) in the 1970’s, it was designed to prepare students to be able to practice architecture independently and immediately upon passing the testing requirements.
Some architecture programs combine the required educational courses with the work component necessary to sit for the professional licensing exams. Hence, this gives the students the opportunity to test immediately for licensure upon graduating. This is not standard in most schools of architecture, so you will have to check with your school of choice to see if this applies to their program.
Take the Architect Registration Examination (Test)
The architect registration examination (ARE) is adopted by the U.S. and Canada to establish requirements to be an architect. The examination is design to evaluate candidates in their knowledge, skill, and abilities in the practice of architecture. The ARE consists of seven divisions (1. Programming, Planning & Practice, 2. Site Planning & Design, 3. Building Design & Construction Systems, 4. Schematic Design, 5. Structural Systems, 6. Building Systems, 7. Construction Documents & Services ). The test format include multiple-choice, fill-in-the-blank, and check-all-that-apply questions. Graphic vignettes are also apart of the testing. The exam has what is called a “Rolling Clock”, which means that all divisions of the ARE must be completed within five years or you will have to retake all parts.
All divisions of the ARE are taken on computers throughout the year in the United States and Canada. You can take the divisions in any order you chose, including your selection of time and location. Test centers are generally open six (6) days of the week. Moreover, they are only closed for two (2) weeks out of the year.
Apply for Licensing (Registration)
Upon completion and passing of all the divisions in the ARE, you can apply for a license. However, you must apply for a license in the state where you will practice architecture. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements for initial registration. You will have to submit an application and pay a nominal fee. The state will issue you a “license number” once your application is approved. The license must be renewed every two years in order to keep it active. If you want to practice architecture in other states and jurisdiction’s outside of your registered state, you can do so by submitting an application for an architect license by reciprocity. Here you will present documentation that you meet that jurisdiction’s registration requirements to practice architecture in their state.
It is important to know that every state or jurisdiction register architects by its own set of requirements. These requirements are for the most part consistent, but there are variations. However, after satisfying the education requirements, internship, and testing requirements of a state, you will become “licensed or registered”. At that point, you can finally call yourself an architect and legally provide architect stamped house plans in your state or states of practice.