50-State Architecture Licensing Compliance Guide
An overview look of an architectures blueprints


Learn about the requirements to be an architect-in-charge of construction.

What Is an Architect-in-Charge?

An architect-in-charge of construction is an individual who is registered and licensed under R.A. No. 9266. They are directly responsible and professionally liable for the construction supervision of a given project. Their duties include:

  • Determining the cost of a construction project
  • Ensuring the proper insurance policies are in place
  • Starting a construction project
  • Managing the removal of demolition debris
  • Providing continued contributors to aid in a project
  • Completing a construction project
  • Following up with their clients

There are education, licensing and insurance requirements to be an architect-in-charge, and you are responsible for those whom you employ.

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How to Become an Architect-in-Charge

To become an architect-in-charge of construction, a bachelor’s degree is a requirement throughout the United States. While most architects pursue a four-year Bachelor of Architecture degree, individuals also have the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree in architecture. The standard education for an architect covers:

  • Architectural history and theory
  • Building design
  • Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD)
  • Construction methods
  • Mathematics
  • Physical sciences
  • Professional practices

Once you have obtained the necessary education, you can enter the experience phase of licensing, which is often satisfied through professional internships. Internships cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Preparing drawings
  • Designing and building models
  • Researching building codes
  • Writing plans

As you work your way up the career ladder, you will look to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) for guidance. Once you fulfill all state requirements, you can take the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). It is a multi-part exam that tests industry knowledge, skills, and overall expertise in different architectural practices. It is important to note that your state may require additional testing in order to obtain architect-in-charge status. With that official status, you can work on building a firm and overseeing projects.

No matter what type of architecture company you run, you need to understand the laws regarding business registration and licensing to ensure you maintain compliance and can continue operating your business without interruption.

Maintaining Status as an Architect-in-Charge

All 50 states and the District of Columbia require architects to be licensed. As the architect-in-charge, you need to ensure that not only your firm is licensed, but that your individual employees are properly licensed as well. Those licenses need to be kept current, which means staying on top of continuing education requirements, industry changes, state deadlines, etc. There is also the business registration process to consider.

It is essential to be aware of state requirements regarding business registration and licensing when establishing and expanding your business. To start or expand to a new state, you will need to choose an available business name and entity structure, develop a financial plan, choose a location, submit an application with your state, and pay any applicable fees.

Harbor Compliance makes preparing and filing applications easy and handles communication with government agencies on your behalf. Our architecture services and software can help you track your registration status, license numbers, filing history, fees, and renewals 24/7.

Insurance Requirements

Architecture projects are inherently dangerous. As the architect-in-charge, you will be responsible for ensuring your projects are adequately insured. You will likely need to purchase general liability coverage to manage losses in the event a third party is accidentally injured. You may also be required to have workers’ compensation in the event an employee is hurt on the job.

If you are concerned about managing the business registration process on your own, you can seek guidance from the business licensing experts at Harbor Compliance. With our managed professional licensing services, we explain all of the stages of business compliance and provide full-service support and expert software insights.

Maintenance and Renewal

No matter what stage you are in with your business, you need to maintain your license status. State requirements vary, but renewals are often required on an annual basis. You may need to submit a renewal application, pay a renewal fee, and prove continuing education certification. Complying with renewal requirements will ensure you can continue to operate your business without disruption.

Keeping on track with your business’s license renewals can be complicated, especially as a growing company. At Harbor Compliance, our managed annual reporting and registered agent services ensure accurate due date tracking and on-time filing. This way, your business will continue to be compliant with state and local requirements, and you will have the time you need to continue working and expanding your clientele.

If you are currently operating an architecture firm and are looking to outsource your maintenance and renewal duties, Harbor Compliance can help. We are available to review your business status, ensure you are in good standing in the states where you operate and explain what steps you need to take to ensure you remain compliant with state and federal regulations.

Exploring Licensing by State

Click on a link below to view licensing information in your state.

Meeting architectural license requirements is not always an easy process. Fortunately, Harbor Compliance offers technology-enabled services and managed licensing solutions that can help. For example, our License Manager software helps architecture professionals maintain their licenses by automating repetitive tasks such as tracking renewals. Through License Manager, you can also access Compliance Core™ data for the states in which you operate, reducing the time spent researching state requirements. Contact our licensing experts today to learn more.

ARE (Architect Registration Examination) - Assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required to be a practicing architect.

AXP (Architectural Experience Program) - NCARB program for architectural internship, a requirement for licensure that occurs after filling the educational requirements.

BEFA (Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect) - An alternative NCARB certification that allows foreign architects to independently practice architecture.

COA (Certificate of Authorization) - The most common name of the registration required for firms to practice architecture in a given state.

Design Firm - Architectural firm registration is sometimes grouped with engineering and land surveying on a single “design firm” application form.

NCARB Certification - Licensed architects have the option to become Certificate holders to signify that they have met national standards established by U.S. licensing boards for protecting public health, safety, and welfare. Certification also facilitates reciprocal registration in all 54 jurisdictions, 11 Canadian jurisdictions, and can be used to support an application for licensure in other countries.

Reciprocity - This is when a licensed architect in one state can provide documentation (often a NCARB certificate) to more easily apply for licensure in another jurisdiction.

State Board - Often referred to as the State Architects Licensure Board or Board of Architects, an individual state’s board serves as the regulatory authority for architects. The board qualifies and licenses individuals seeking architectural licensure. The board is responsible for preserving the public health, safety, and welfare of individuals who occupy built environments.

National Architecture Accrediting Board
NAAB establishes criteria for and accredits professional architecture degree programs in the United States.

The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)
AIAS is an independent, student-run group that promotes excellence in architecture education, training, and practice.

The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
AIA is a voluntary professional organization for architects providing advocacy, information, and community.

The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
ACSA represents architectural education programs across the globe.

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
NCARB is the national organization representing the state registration boards.