Architecture Licensing Compliance

Design with confidence: Add compliance to your architectural blueprint

Like many professional industries, practicing architecture requires a unique set of education, experience, and examination standards. Whether you are a principal of an architecture firm, an employee within a firm, or a recent graduate starting your career, you will face certification and licensing requirements at every level of your career.

Adhering to professional licensing requirements is key to maintaining your legal authority to practice architecture. Beyond that, full compliance demonstrates that you have the architectural skills and judgement to ensure the health and safety of those who construct, maintain, and inhabit the structure you have blueprinted. Failing to observe architectural industry requirements can result in state imposed penalties and even denial, revocation, or suspension of your license.

The good news? An experienced, dedicated compliance partner can help you take a proactive approach to maintaining architect licensure and certification. Contact Harbor Compliance today to help you simplify the professional licensing process. The following guide contains an overview of architectural practice licensing and specific board requirements in each state.



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Key Terms

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.

Industry Resources

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) - ALAS 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.

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.
This page was last fact-checked March 24, 2016
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