According to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), an architect is a licensed professional who is trained in the art and science of building and structures. To practice architecture or call yourself an architect, you must become licensed first. The requirements to becoming an architect involve earning a bachelor's or master's degree in architecture from an accredited school, completing an internship, passing the Architectural Record Examination (ARE) and registering in your state.


Before becoming licensed, a candidate must earn a professional degree in architecture from a school with an architecture program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). A Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch), a five-year program intended for students without previous architectural training, is the most common way architects earn their professional degree. Master of Architecture programs, which range between one and five years to complete and are intended for students who have completed a pre-professional architecture program or degree in another field are another way candidates can earn a professional degree.


Candidates holding a professional degree in architecture and seeking licensure are required by all states to complete an internship that typically lasts about three years. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, every state follows the training standards established by the Intern Development Program (IDP), a program of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the National Council of Architecture Registration Boards (NCARB). During this time, architectural interns gain experience in different areas of the field under the supervision of a licensed architect and support of a mentor.


Upon completing an internship, a candidate is eligible to sit for the Architectural Record Examination. This examination assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills and ability to provide the various services required in the practice of architecture. Before someone can call themselves an architect, they must pass each of the seven divisions of the examination.

Licensure and Continuing Education

Before offering architectural services, all U.S. jurisdictions require that a candidate register with their state registration board to complete the licensure process. Then, to maintain a license most states require some form of continuing education. Continuing education requirements vary by state.