Architecture Licensing Compliance

Comprehensive licensing information for architects and architecture firms

This guide contains an overview of architecture licensing and the specific requirements in each state. Whether you are a principal of an architecture firm, an employee within a firm, or a recent graduate starting your career, you will face professional licensing requirements at every stage. Complying with professional licensing requirements is key to maintaining your legal authority to practice and avoiding state imposed penalties for noncompliance. Feel free to share this guide and bookmark it as a reference.


Individual Architect Licensing

Overview of Requirements

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

  • Earning a bachelor's degree in architecture from an NAAB accredited school
  • Completing an internship or period of practical training
  • Passing the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®)

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 Requirements

Each state has their own additional requirements. Common requirements 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 Fees

Fees vary widely by state. The fee in Ohio is just $50 whereas the New York fees for registration by examination by a resident are $377. States typically charge an application fee plus the fees for processing exam applications.

Reciprocal Registration

Reciprocity is when a registered architect in one jurisdiction applies for registration in another by providing documentation that he or she meets that jurisdiction's registration requirements. Typically this is accomplished through a 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.

Renewal Requirements

Generally speaking, individual licenses must be renewed periodically. The renewal frequency is one to three years, depending on the state. State fees also vary. Ohio imposes a renewal fee of $125. Arizona's fees are $225 for a three-year period. Continuing education (CE) is required in nearly every state. Keeping up with each state’s requirements, tracking renewals, and submitting the applications on time is critical to avoiding penalties for noncompliance.


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Glossary

(Hover for definition.)

ARE (Architect Registration Examination)
COA (Certificate of Authorization)
Design Firm
NCARB Certification
Reciprocity
BEFA (Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect)
AXP (Architectural Experience Program)


Industry Resources

There are five key organizations that represent various groups responsible for architect education, training, registration, and practice.

(Hover for description. Click to visit their website.)

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
The Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA)
The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
The American Institute of Architecture Students (AIAS)

Architecture Firm Licensing

Overview of Requirements

A business entity offering architectural services to the public typically must register with the State Board of Architects and receive a Certificate of Authorization. The Certificate of Authorization, or firm license, is necessary to practice architecture in about 60% of states. Firms practicing without one can be liable for steep penalty fees.

Licensure for architectural firms usually follows incorporation or foreign qualification of the business entity with the Secretary of State. Common legal structures for firms are corporations or professional corporations (PC), and limited liability companies (LLC) or professional LLCs. Incorporation refers to formation of the business entity, whereas foreign qualification refers to applying for a Certificate of Authority to transact business in another state.

After registration with the Secretary of State, firms must apply for a Certificate of Authorization through the relevant licensing board. It is worth noting that the Certificate of Authorization is a separate document from the Certificate of Authority used during foreign qualification. This can be a confusing for firms needing to file both documents, especially in Oklahoma and Missouri, where the licensing board form is also called a Certificate of Authority application. Applications and forms are fairly standard, but there are some differences from state to state.

Applications require proof of incorporation or foreign qualification and typically a fee. Other required items can include notarized bylaws and ownership requirements. For example, in Alabama there are ownership requirements in order to obtain a Certificate of Authorization. A minimum of two-thirds of the controlling officers, partners, directors, or members of the entity must be architects and/or professional engineers registered under the laws of any U.S. jurisdiction, and at least one must be an architect registered in Alabama.

Some states combine the applications for architecture, engineering, and land surveying firm licensure into a single design firm application. Firms that provide more than one of these professional services may only need to fill out a single application but with a slightly higher application fee. Illinois, for instance, uses a general design firm application for architecture, land surveying, professional engineering, and structural engineering.

Initial Registration Fees

Fees for initial licensure range from $0 to $600. Rhode Island and Tennessee do not require a fee, while New Jersey filing fees total $600. The average license cost is $195 while the most common filing fee is $100.

Renewal Requirements

Firm license renewal varies by state. Slightly over half of the states that require firm licensure call for licenses to be renewed every two years. Almost all other state licenses renew annually. Tennessee is one exception to this rule, as they do not require a renewal filing.

Like initial application fees, renewal fees also vary by state. Fees range from just $25 in Alabama and Minnesota to $500 in Alaska and New Jersey. Firms can expect to pay closer to the national average of $210 when applying for a license, however, the most commonly applied fee is $100.







Firm Licensing: Quick Facts

  • 60% of states require firms to register before providing architectural services.
  • The average initial filing fee is $195, the average renewal fee is $210.
  • New Jersey and Alaska have the highest fees, at $600 for initial applications and $500 for renewals.
  • Applications in Rhode Island and Tennessee applications are free.
  • The most common filing fee for both initial and renewal filings is $100.
  • For nationwide architectural firms, initial registration will cost roughly $3,880, while renewal fees amount to just over $3200.
  • Penalty fees vary widely by state. Some states charge no fee for late filings, while Arkansas late fees can reach $250 and Delaware late fees are twice the amount of the renewal fee.
  • A slight majority of states require biennial renewal filings, while the remainder require filings to be made annually.

Our firm found Harbor Compliance to be invaluable in walking us through the process of becoming registered to do business in several states. It is well worth the fee - it would have taken us weeks or months to figure out all the paperwork involved!
LorrainePartners for Architecture, Inc.

Table of Firm Licenses

The following table summarizes firm licensing requirements across the United States. Click on any state for the licensing information specific to that state.

State Agency Initial Application License Renewal

Alabama

More info
Alabama Board for Registration of Architects Application for a Certificate of Authorization (COA)

$25

Certificate of Authorization (COA)

$25

Alaska

More info
Alaska State Board of Registration for Architects, Engineers, and Land Surveyors Application for Certificate of Authorization

$600 ($100 application fee plus $500 certification fee) 

Certificate of Authorization

Normally $500. May be prorated to $250 for a later date of initial registration.

Arizona

More info
Arizona State Board of Technical Registration Application for Annual Firm Registration

$50

Application for Annual Firm Registration

$50

Arkansas

More info
Arkansas State Board of Architects, Landscape Architects & Interior Designers Application for Certificate of Authorization

$250

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$250

California

More info
California Architects Board

Not required.

Not required.

Colorado

More info
Colorado State Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers and Professional Land Surveyors

Not required.

Not required.

Connecticut

More info
Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection - Architectural Licensing Board Application for License for Corporate Practice of Architecture

$50 by check or money order

Application for License for Corporate Practice of Architecture

$220

Delaware

More info
Delaware Division of Professional Regulation: Board of Architects Application for Certificate of Authorization

$85

Application for Certificate of Authorization

You are notified of the amount of the renewal fee at the time of renewal.

District of Columbia

More info
District of Columbia Board of Architecture & Interior Design

Not required.

Not required.

Florida

More info
Florida Board of Architecture and Interior Design Application for Certificate of Authorization

$100

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$125

Georgia

More info
Georgia State Board of Architects & Interior Designers

Not required.

Not required.

Hawaii

More info
Hawaii Board of Professional Engineers, Architects, Surveyors & Landscape Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Idaho

More info
Idaho Board of Architectural Examiners

Not required.

Not required.

Illinois

More info
Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Application for Professional Design Firm Registration

$75

Application for Professional Design Firm Registration

$75

Indiana

More info
Indiana Professional Licensing Agency: Board of Registration for Architects and Landscape Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Iowa

More info
Iowa Professional Licensing Bureau: Architectural Examining Board

Not required.

As of July 1, 2014, the Iowa Architectural Examining Board no longer registers firms. The board only registers individual architects.

Not required.

As of July 1, 2014, the Iowa Architectural Examining Board no longer registers firms. The board only registers individual architects.

Kansas

More info
Kansas State Board of Technical Professions: Engineering, Architecture, Landscape Architecture and Land Surveying Application for Certificate of Authorization for Business Entity

$170

Business Entity Renewal

$85

Kentucky

More info
Kentucky Board of Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Louisiana

More info
Louisiana State Board of Architectural Examiners Application for Professional Architectural Firm Registration

$50

Application for Professional Architectural Firm Registration

$50

Maine

More info
Maine State Board of Licensure for Architects, Landscape Architects and Interior Designers

Not required.

Not required.

Maryland

More info
Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation: Board of Architects Application for Certificate of Authorization

$135

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$100

Massachusetts

More info
Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensing: Board of Registration of Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Michigan

More info
Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs: Board of Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Minnesota

More info
Minnesota Board of Architecture, Engineering, Land Surveying Landscape Architecture, Geoscience and Interior Design Professional Firm Registration

$100

Professional Firm Renewal

$25

Mississippi

More info
Mississippi State Board of Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Missouri

More info
Missouri Board For Architects, Professional Engineers, Professional Land Surveyors and Professional Landscape Architects Application for Certificate of Authority

$200

Application for Certificate of Authority

$100

Montana

More info
Montana Department of Labor and Industry: Board of Architects and Landscape Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Nebraska

More info
Nebraska Board of Engineers and Architects Application for Certificate of Authorization

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $100 6-10: $200 11-49:$300 50+: $400

Application for Certificate of Authorization

Tiered fee structure by number of licensees. 1-5: $50 6-10: $150 11-49:$250 50+: $350

Nevada

More info
Nevada State Board of Architecture, Interior Design and Residential Design Application for Business Registration

$425

Application for Business Registration

New Hampshire

More info
New Hampshire Joint Board of Licensure and Certification: Board of Architects Application for Certificate of Authorization

$80

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$80

New Jersey

More info
New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs - State Board of Architects Application for Certificate of Authorization

$100 Application Fee plus $500 Initial License Fee.

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$500

New Mexico

More info
New Mexico Board of Examiners for Architects

Not required.

Not required.

New York

More info
New York State Education Department: Office of the Professions - State Board for Architecture

Not required.

  • New York does currently license architectural firms, however, firms must follow procedures established by the Education Department when incorporating or foreign qualifying.

Not required.

North Carolina

More info
North Carolina Board of Architecture Application for Certificate of Registration

$75

Application for Certificate of Registration

$100

North Dakota

More info
North Dakota State Board of Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Not required.

Not required.

Ohio

More info
Ohio Architects Board Application for Firm Certificate of Authorization

$125

Application for Firm Certificate of Authorization

$100

Oklahoma

More info
Oklahoma Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, and Registered Interior Designers Application for Certificate of Authority

$325

Application for Certificate of Authority

$325

Oregon

More info
Oregon State Board of Architect Examiners Application for Architectural Firm License

$100

Application for Architectural Firm License

$100

Pennsylvania

More info
Pennsylvania Architects Licensure Board Application for Firm Registration

$50

Application for Firm Registration

$100

Rhode Island

More info
Rhode Island Division of Design Professionals Application for Certificate of Authorization

$0

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$120

South Carolina

More info
South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners Application for Firm License

$100

Application for Firm License

$185

South Dakota

More info
South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation: Board of Technical Professions Application for Certificate of Authorization

$100

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$80

Tennessee

More info
Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: Tennessee Board of Architectural and Engineering Examiners Application for Corporation, Partnership and Firm Disclosure

$0

Not required.

Texas

More info
Texas Board of Architectural Examiners: Architects, Interior Designers, Landscape Architects Application for Business Registration

$45

Application for Business Registration

Utah

More info
Utah Department of Commerce - Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing

Not required.

Not required.

Vermont

More info
Vermont Office of Professional Regulation: Board of Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Virginia

More info
Virginia Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects Application for Business Entity Registration

$30 for PCs and $100 for all other business entities.

Application for Business Entity Registration

$50

Washington

More info
Washington State Department of Licensing: State Board of Architects Application for Certificate of Authorization

$100

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$50

West Virginia

More info
West Virginia Board of Architects

Not required.

Not required.

Wisconsin

More info
Wisconsin Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Professional Land Surveyors Application for Certificate of Authorization

$75

Application for Certificate of Authorization

$82

Wyoming

More info
Wyoming State Board of Architects and Landscape Architects

Not required.

Not required.

This page was last fact-checked March 24, 2016