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

Individual Architect Licensing

Obtain your license to practice as an architect by completing the educational, experience, and exam prerequisites and applying with your state board for a license.

Explore Requirements by State:

New! Check Your Status For Free Make sure you're in good standing with a free nationwide compliance analysis. Get Your Free Health Check Now

Getting Your License

All 50 states and Washington, D.C. require architects to be individually licensed before practicing or soliciting business. Each state board has its own professional standards for architecture licensing. There are certain prerequisites for licensure, which vary slightly by state. Generally speaking, the requirements include:

NAAB Waiver: In some cases, a state board of architecture may waive the requirement of an NAAB-accredited degree and register an applicant who has demonstrated educational experience that is deemed to be equivalent to a professional degree in architecture from an accredited program.

Once these initial steps are complete, an aspiring architect can begin the application process in his or her state. Licensing is administered by the board of architecture in each state. The specific requirements, application fees, and processing times vary by state.

Additional State Requirements

Each state has their own additional architectural education, experience, and examination requirements for legal practice. Common provisions include:

  • Duration of state residency
  • Registration interview
  • Duration of internship or training
  • Additional experience
  • Additional jurisdiction-specific exam (beyond the ARE)

To read individual licensing requirements for a specific state, please use the guide navigation to your right. Each state has different requirements for initial, reciprocal, and renewal applications.

Initial Application & Exam Fees

Fees vary widely by state. The architect board exam fee in Ohio is just $50, whereas New York architects applying for a first-time license must pay a $377 application and exam fee. States typically charge an application fee in addition to a fee for processing exam applications.

Reciprocal Registration

Thanks to reciprocity, many architects are licensed to practice in more than just one jurisdiction for greater job flexibility, mobility, and security. Architectural reciprocity is an agreement among 54 U.S. jurisdictions to recognize licenses issued by other boards. A registered architect in one jurisdiction can apply for registration in another by providing documentation that he or she meets that particular board’s registration requirements. Typically this is accomplished through an NCARB Certificate.

Registration boards examine and keep a record of qualifications for each applicant for registration. Most registration boards require an NCARB Certificate as a basis for reciprocal registration, although a few consider applicants without this certificate. A complete copy of an applicant’s NCARB Record will be provided to a registration board in support of the application for reciprocal registration.

If reciprocal registration is permitted, there will be an application fee registration. For example, the fee for the Architect by Reciprocity application is $250 in Kansas and Ohio, and $150 in Texas.

License Renewal Requirements

Generally speaking, individual architect licenses must be renewed periodically. The renewal frequency is one to three years, depending on the state. State fees also vary. For example, Ohio imposes a renewal fee of $125, whereas Arizona fees are $225 for a three-year period. Continuing education (CE) is required in nearly every state.

Continuing Education Requirements

The majority of jurisdictions in the United States require architects to earn continuing education credits before each license renewal. Requirements vary by state licensing board.

Continuing education credits are earned in a variety of ways. Most credits are earned by successfully completing self-guided or supervised learning courses. The courses and exams play a crucial role in the license renewal process.

It’s essential to understand how the state in which you are licensed handles continuing education. There may be time frames in which you must earn credits. Your state may also require courses in specific topics, such as ethics or accessibility.

Keeping up with state board of architecture requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties. At Harbor Compliance, we believe that proactive management is always better than reactive! Contact a Compliance Specialist today to help your architecture firm navigate licensure and certification in your jurisdiction.

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.