Become An Architect

Road to Registration: So you want to be an architect? There is a very specific road you must take to reach registration, and this page addresses what you need to know and do in order to make that happen.

Photo Courtesy Thomas McConnell

DISCLAIMER: Note that until you are a licensed architect, you may NOT refer to yourself as an architect or offer architectural services. Even once you are licensed, you may not practice architecture or solicit architectural services in any state or jurisdiction in which you have not met that jurisdiction's requirements to do so.

Requirements

Texas, like every other US jurisdiction, requires completion of the “3 Es” in order to obtain your license.

  1. Complete the Education requirement by obtaining your NAAB accredited professional degree in architecture.
  2. Fulfill the Experience requirement by enrolling in the Intern Development Program (IDP), a structured national training program that requires Interns to acquire experience under the direct supervision of a registered architect. IDP is managed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), which allows you to carry your experiences from job to job and state to state.
  3. Complete the Examination, where you must take and pass each of the 7 divisions of the Architectural Registration Exam (ARE).

The sooner you successfully complete the steps, as defined by the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) for registration in the state of Texas, the sooner you will become a licensed architect.

NCARB

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), a federation of all registration boards in the United States, sets national standards for architectural registration (aka Model Law). It is still up to each state to define what their own laws and regulations are regarding licensure and practice requirements, but all will base their rules to some extent on the NCARB Model Law. NCARB manages the standardized national programs used by the state boards to determine qualifications for licensure (IDP & ARE). NCARB establishes, interprets, and enforces the IDP training requirements. They develop and administer the ARE through Prometric testing centers. They also manage the NCARB certificate program which allows for easy reciprocal licensure in multiple states once you obtain your first architectural license.

TBAE

The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners, TBAE, is based in Austin and is a member of the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards; it regulates the licensure and practice of architecture in the state of Texas.

Steps in the Intern Development Program

  1. Enroll in the Intern Development Program to establish an NCARB Council Record.
    Visit NCARB’s website where you will be able to register for your Council Record online and receive information on the details of what will be expected of you. You will be eligible to do this anytime after completion of your third year in an architectural degree program, or after the first year of a three year Masters of Architecture program if your bachelor’s degree is in another field. Additionally, contact your local AIA chapter for any resources and local programs offered to assist interns.
  2. Download and review the IDP Guidelines
    Available on NCARB’s website, the IDP Guidelines are a downloadable, interactive PDF that will explain to you all the ins and outs of IDP, including what is required, what experience will count, and all of the rules associated with the program.
  3. Identify your IDP Supervisor
    IDP Supervisors are the licensed individuals who supervise you on a daily basis and have control over and professional knowledge of your work. They are also the individuals who will certify that the information you submit in your experience reports is true and correct. For some training categories, the supervisor can be an engineer, landscape architect, interior designer, planner, or contractor. Refer to the IDP Guidelines for specific requirements.
  4. Identify an IDP Mentor
    Mentors serve interns by giving them advice and offering a supportive forum for discussing challenges and aspirations. It is strongly recommended that each Intern have a Mentor outside of their place of business to be an independent guide to help them through the process. They may also substitute for your supervisor in confirming certain supplementary education activities if you are unemployed.
  5. Develop a personal record-keeping system for tracking daily activities related to the IDP training requirements.
    Don’t wait until it is time to submit your experience reports to organize your time. Keep track through your time sheets or download and use the NCARB IDP Training Unit Workbook.
  6. Understand the Six Month Reporting Rule
    NCARB has a requirement that restricts your experience reports to no more than six months in duration with a two month reporting window in which to get it submitted. Failure to do so can result in losing credit for unreported experience so be sure to sign up early and report often (quarterly is ideal). Refer to the IDP Guidelines for specific requirements.
  7. Submitting your experience
    IDP experience is submitted online through your NCARB Council Record account using the electronic Experience Verification Report (e-EVR). To learn how to utilize the e-EVR, check out the How-To webcast on NCARB’s website.

Steps in the Architect Registration Examination

  1. After graduation from a NAAB (National Architecture Accrediting Board) school with an accredited professional degree, and six months of work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed architect, you may request to take the ARE in Texas.
    Contact TBAE via phone, written correspondence, or through their website to request an application. IDP does not need to be complete before you start testing, but you must have opened your NCARB Council Record.
  2. Request NCARB to submit your Record to the state.
    When you have completed IDP you may request NCARB send your information to TBAE. If you have not completed IDP but have an accredited professional degree and have recorded six months of work experience (after graduation), you may also have your Record submitted to TBAE.
  3. TBAE will authorize you to test.
    TBAE will ask you to open an account with them and will then review your Record to determine if you are eligible to begin taking the ARE.
  4. Schedule an appointment on the Internet to take each section of the exam.
    Once you have been made eligible and have received your Authorization to Test letter, log on to www.prometric.com to your exams. Failed exam sections may be retaken after six months. Up to three business days prior to your scheduled exam, you may reschedule it for a fee of $35.

The ARE

The ARE consists of 7 individual exams, each featuring a combination of multiple choice questions and design vignettes aimed at assessing your knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required in the practice of architecture. Exams may be scheduled in any order and practice guides and the practice software for the graphic vignettes are available at NCARB’s website. Refer to the ARE Guidelines for more information.

To purchase Kaplan ARE study material at a special 20% discount, please visit our Kaplan Study Materials page.

The seven ARE divisions are:

  • Building Design & Construction Systems
  • Building Systems
  • Construction Documents & Services
  • Programming, Planning & Practice
  • Schematic Design
  • Site Design
  • Structural Systems

TBAE Registration Parameters

  • As of September 1, 1999, applicants are required to have a degree from an NAAB accredited program. Any applicant who commenced his or her educational training and/or experience prior to September 1, 1999 will be subject to the registration laws in effect prior to September 1, 1999. “Commenced” is defined as having enrolled in college or begun your first qualified employment. You must apply to TBAE no later than August 31, 2011 to qualify under this old rule.
  • Applicants must successfully complete the requirements of IDP. Three years of IDP training are required of a candidate with an NAAB-accredited degree. Four and a half years of training are required of a candidate with a four-year pre-professional degree (verify with TBAE). Eight years of training are required of a candidate with only a high school diploma (verify with TBAE).
  • TBAE has a five year “rolling clock” time limit for taking the ARE. Each passing score for an individual exam division remains valid for five years from the date that division was taken. Failure to complete all seven divisions within five years of that date will cause that score to become invalid and that particular division to be retaken. For more information on the rolling clock, click here.
  • TBAE will accept a non-certified Council Record (an unbound copy of the council record) as documentation of an applicant's qualifications for registration.
  • Training may not be included as any work experience required for graduation. Part-time employment is accepted if it is at least 20 hours per week for six months.

EESA: Education Evaluation Services for Architects

EESA is a NAAB program that assists those individuals who wish to apply for NCARB certification or for registration by an NCARB member board and who do not have a professional degree in architecture from an NAAB-accredited school of architecture. EESA often works with internationally educated applicants and broadly experienced architects. Additional information is available at the NAAB website.

Fees

All fees are subject to change; prices current as of August 2010. Contact each organization for an updated list.

Application for NCARB Council Record: $350

For three years of NCARB services in compiling your council record. This fee includes one transmittal of your Record to TBAE. Students and recent graduates (within six months of graduation) may submit just $100 with the application. The balance will be due before the Record can be transmitted to TBAE.

NCARB Annual Maintenance Fee: $75

For services for each additional year beyond the first three years, or for reactivation of your expired record. The fee is charged for each year or fraction of a year from the date of expiration up to a maximum of $425.

TBAE Examination Application Fee: $100

This is a one-time non-refundable fee for processing exam applications and issuing scores, and is paid after your NCARB Council Record has been transmitted to TBAE.

TBAE Annual Maintenance Fee: $25

TBAE requires this fee to keep your file active and enable you to receive exam information during the time it takes to pass all sections of the exam.

TBAE Annual License Registration Fee: $305



Architectural Registration Examination

All exam divisions are $210 each.


For more Information, contact Intern Development Program Coordinator Gary Dunn.

National

American Institute of Architects

Intern/Associate Committee
1735 New York Avenue NW
Washington, D.C. 20006-5692
phn: 800-AIA-3837 or 202-626-7300
fax: 202-626-7547
web: www.aia.org

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards

Student and Intern Services Department
1801 K Street NW, Suite 700-K
Washington, D.C. 20006-1310
phn: 202-783-6500
fax: 202-783-0290
web: www.ncarb.org

State

Texas Society of Architects

500 Chicon Street
Austin, TX 78702
phn: 512-478-7386
fax: 512-478-0528
web: www.texasarchitects.org

Texas Board of Architectural Examiners

333 Guadalupe, Suite 2-350
Austin, TX 78701
phn: 512-305-9000
fax: 512-305-8900
web: www.tbae.state.tx.us