5 Easy Steps to Becoming an Architect


Okay so in all honestly we know that “easy” is the operative word in the title, but here’s hoping this post breaks things down into more manageable steps for anyone that is a little intimidated by the process.

1. Start Your NCARB Record

Important first step. Starting your NCARB record verifies that you’re legit and allows you access to the online platform needed to complete steps 2 and 3. You will need to locate your transcript for this step to verify that you have an accredited degree. Reaching out to your former university is more of an annoyance than a challenge, but it can take some time, so plan accordingly. NCARB requires the university send the transcript directly and not digitally.

2. Start the Architectural Experience Progam (AXP)

Until recently this was known as the Intern Development Program (IDP), but it has been restructured in the past year to make it easier to navigate and more relateable to the day-to-day activities in the profession. It’s important to get your project manager involved in this conversation so they can help make the process easier when scheduling your work hours. One area that can prove to be particularly challenging is construction observation. Construction tours (like the one the EAC is co-sponsoring in February!) can help towards that in particular. Check out this link for more details on the upcoming event: http://www.aiadc.com/event/construction-tour-and-panel-alexander-court

3. Pick Your Jurisdiction and Petition to Start Testing

This one seems insignificant, but can really make a big difference in the amount of time that it takes for you to complete the process. Each state has different requirements for when you can start testing and how much of the AXP must be complete. To find out more details check out this link: http://www.ncarb.org/Getting-an-Initial-License/Registration-Board-Requirements.aspx

4. Study For and Take the ARE

I’m sure this sounds like the most intimidating step, but let me assure you it’s really not. Everyone seems to think that you have to know absolutely everything to start the testing process. This is 100% not true. As architects, we specialize in being generalists. The likelihood that you will be presented with something you don’t know the answer to basically everyday is pretty high. The tests are just a good way to prepare yourself for that. It’s probably good to read the study materials too. Find support, study groups and additional resources through the EAC and AIA! There are a couple resources locally that can be utilized:

  • AIA DC has set up a series to help navigate the test transition, allowing you to take five tests total! More information at the following link: http://www.aiadc.com/page/are-take-5
  • AIA NOVA has a great series to help prepare you for the tests starting tomorrow! For more info on that check out their website: http://www.aianova.org/are.php

5. Complete License with Jurisdiction and Finalize NCARB Record

Once you finish testing, NCARB has to let the state you petitioned know that you are cool to stamp things. You’ll get your final license info and then you will also want to finalize your NCARB record. This makes reciprocity easier later in life should you choose to be licensed in more than one state.

See! Easy stuff! In all seriousness, a lot of EAC members have recently completed the process or are currently going through the madness and we welcome any comments/questions you might have! We even have our own personal license advising resource in Adam Schwartz, who is happy to help field questions at aschwartz@hga.com

Now go become an architect!


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