So, You Want to be An Architect – What Does it Take?

So, You Want to be An Architect – What Does it Take

Architects are responsible for protecting the health, safety, and welfare of those who live and work in the built environment.

Have you ever wondered about the amount of training that goes into becoming a licensed architect?  Or, how they have gotten the necessary skills and knowledge to design your construction projects? The process of becoming an architect involves several important steps.

1. Attend an Accredited Architecture School

To qualify, one must graduate from an accredited 5-year bachelor program,  a masters or PhD university program. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has a review board that judges each school on the quality of their program and if it is worthy of producing architects. Each of the 127 accredited US programs offers a professional degree that meets the education requirement for licensure in all 55 US jurisdictions.

2. Complete the Architectural Experience program (AXP)

The next step is to complete the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). The AXP is designed to develop the practical and experiential skills each budding architect needs while working under the supervision of a licensed architect. There are 96 key tasks that fall under 6 practice areas that must be documented, logged into a central database, and signed off on by your supervisor. In all, there are 3,740 specific experience hours to complete, and a minimum number of years working under the supervision of an architect needed to move onto the next step.  Each state has their own requirements to meet the minimum years of experience necessary; PA has a minimum of 3 years. Now, you are ready for the next step!

3. Testing

It is now time to study hard and take 6 separate tests that correspond to the 3740 practice hours you have completed for 96 tasks in the 6 practice areas.  The practice areas and corresponding tests cover:

  • Practice Management
  • Project Management
  • Programming and Analysis
  • Project Planning & Design
  • Project Development & Documentation
  • Construction & Evaluation

4. You have Passed Your Tests!

Time to celebrate, apply for your license – and start thinking about continuing education requirements!  Most states require architects to complete continuing education before each license renewal. License renewal varies between every 1-3 years, depending on the state. Our principal, John Lister, is licensed in 38 states. That is a lot of continuing education completed each year!

5. Anything Else?

It is important for an architect to stay current on building trends, construction materials, sustainability initiatives, design options, and design enhancing software – to mention a few areas of our practice. To quote the American Institute of Architects (AIA):

“As licensed architects, we uphold the following principles:

The health, safety and welfare of the public depend on having licensed, continually educated architects. Becoming a licensed architect involves a rigorous process of education, experience, and examination. To qualify to enter the profession, architects must earn a professional degree. Many earn advanced degrees. In addition to meeting educational requirements, architects must complete an extensive professional experience program that documents thousands of hours of practical experience under the supervision of a licensed architect in all aspects of professional practice. Architects must pass the Architect Registration Examination, which is composed of six divisions that test essential professional skills and knowledge. Finally, AIA member architects are required to continue their education even after being licensed, to make sure they stay up to date on the latest techniques in design and the production of construction documents.” 

JL Architects is a nationally licensed architecture firm that has been servicing commercial clients since 1988. We are also sustainable building consultants that serve as LEED and Green Globes Professionals.