How Do Architects Keep Current with Design Requirements and Trends?


Do you ever wonder how architects keep up with the changes to building code requirements?  Or how about the latest in design technology?  Or new architectural products and trends?  The answer is by taking continuing education courses.

Why continuing education?

  • In most states, an architect needs to complete continuing education requirements to renew their license; typically, the renewal period is between 1 – 3 years. If the continuing education is not completed on time, their license will expire, and they will no longer be able to practice architecture in that state.
  • Continuing education ensures that architects are always learning. In the ever-changing world of architecture, it is not only important to keep up with design trends, but also the health, safety, and welfare of the community.

What types of continuing education are acceptable?

  • In most states, architects are required to complete at least 12 hours of continuing education credits per year. Each credit is equivalent to one hour of instruction and learning.  These credits typically need to be labeled “HSW” credits by the AIA (The American Institute of Architects), meaning that they pertain to the health, safety, and welfare of the community.
  • In addition to HSW credits, some states may have additional requirements. In Texas, for example, architects need to complete at least 1 additional credit pertaining to accessibility.  New Hampshire requires 4 credits per year pertaining to sustainability, and Nevada requires at least 2 hours pertaining to architectural codes.
  • Some states allow for a percentage of the credits to be in general architecture. For example, in Tennessee during each 2-year license period, 24 credits must be acquired, but only 13 credits must be HSW credits.  The remaining 11 credits can be in any architectural topic of your choosing.

How to earn continuing education credits?

  • There are various ways to earn continuing education credits. Architects can take online courses from registered AIA CES providers. There are many courses to choose from that cover all the different requirements by state.
  • Architects can also attend lunch and learn presentations that are approved by the AIA.
  • Another great way to earn several credits at once is by attending conferences and conventions. Every year the AIA holds a national convention where architects can attend workshops, presentations, and lectures to earn credits.  The Green Building Initiative holds an annual sustainability symposium where architects can earn sustainability credits.
  • Some states even allow for individually planned educational activities or self-directed learning. Architects can research or study architectural topics of interest earning credit for each hour spent. They can also provide pro bono rendering services to the public or even be elected and sit on the board of a planning commission or sustainability committee.

Continuing education is vital for architects to not only maintain their licenses, but also to ensure their designs meet the current standards for the health, safety, and welfare of the public.  Being licensed in 38 states, JL knows a thing or two about continuing education!  We use that knowledge to create contemporary designs that are safe and sustainable.

-Amy Estrella