How To Become An Architect

Welcome to the ultimate resource on How To Become An Architect!

As a licensed architect I personally went through this entire process. I can tell you that while it certainly isn’t easy, it is worth all of the hard work. Being an architect is an extremely rewarding career with many interesting and dynamic aspects that make it a worthwhile pursuit.

Whether you are trying to figure out if architecture is what you want to do for a living or are thinking of making a career switch, read on.

A note to my international readers: I am going to be discussing the process in the United States, however most countries have a similar process even though the details will differ.

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How To Become An Architect.
Please note that to be considered an “Architect” in the United States you must be licensed in at least one state. While some people choose to never pursue their architecture license, I feel it is an important final step and an essential part of the profession.

The traditional path to becoming a licensed architect can be divided into five steps:

  1. Get an NAAB Architecture Degree
  2. Get An Architecture Internship
  3. Join The Architectural Experience Program™ (AXP™)
  4. Pass The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®)
  5. Obtain A State Specific Architecture License

How long is this going to take?

According to a recent NCARB study, it now takes candidates just over 12 and a half years to complete the core requirements for licensure—including education, experience, and examination—and almost half of this time (5.8 years) is spent earning a degree.

Obviously with this kind of a timeline you have to be sure architecture is the right career for you. Also, there are ways to reduce this lengthy process, as I will discuss below.


Be sure to familiarize yourself with the primary architecture organization in the U.S., the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).

“NCARB is a nonprofit organization made up of the architectural licensing boards of 54 states and territories. While each jurisdiction is responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders, NCARB develops and administers national programs for licensure candidates and architects.”

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