How to become an Architect? 6

How to become an Architect?

To become a registered Architect in the United States of America there is a three step process: Education, Internship and Examination.


The first step is to get an education at an accredited school of Architecture.  The last time I checked there were only 122 universities that were accredited in the United States.  The degree programs can vary between the schools but ultimately the individual must obtain a professional degree.  Professional degree as recognized by the NAAB.

National Architectural Accrediting Board    The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is the sole agency authorized to accredit professional degree programs in architecture in the United States. Since most US state registration boards require any applicant for licensure to have graduated from a NAAB-accredited program, obtaining such a degree is an essential aspect of preparing for the professional practice of architecture. While graduation from a NAAB-accredited program does not assure registration, the accrediting process is intended to verify that each accredited program substantially meets those standards that, as a whole, comprise an appropriate education for an architect.

The mission of the NAAB is leadership in, and the establishment of, educational quality assurance standards to enhance the value, relevance, and effectiveness of the architectural profession.

The three types of degree plans are as follows:

5          Five year Bachelors Professional (the oldest degree for Architecture, no longer available)
4+2     Four year undergraduate in Architecture and a Two year masters in Architecture
4+3     Four year undergraduate (not in architecture) and a Three year Masters in Architecture

In the cases where one obtains a Masters degree that is their first professional Masters.  In order to become tenured Professor they must obtain a second professional Masters degree in Architecture.  The second professional is usually a specialty (Planning, Urban Design, Sustainability, Historical Preservation, etc…).

My degree is the Five Year Bachelors Professional from Texas Tech University.  It is no longer available at Tech because they changed to the 4 + 2.


After obtaining the education, an individual must start working for a registered Architect and begin the Internship Development Program or IDP.  The IDP is documented by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards or NCRAB.

National Council of Architectural Registration Boards  NCARB members are the architectural registration boards of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and three U.S. territories (Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands). Each registration board has state-appointed public and professional members as well as an administrator.  The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards protects the public health, safety, and welfare by leading the regulation of the practice of architecture through the development and application of standards for licensure and credentialing of architects.

The IDP is a process that allows an individual to demonstrate experience in many aspects of the practice of Architecture under the supervision of a registered Architect.  This process can vary depending on the amount the individual is exposed to at the firm they are working at.  The minimum time of experience that the IDP requires is at 3 years.

I was lucky and worked at a small firm that allowed me to be involved in every aspect of a project.


The Architects Registration Exam or ARE 4.0 is a seven part exam that consists of the following topics:

Building Design & Construction Systems                      5 ½ hours

Building Systems                                                    4 hours

Construction Documents & Services                   4 hours

Programming, Planning & Practice                     4 hours

Schematic Design                                                    6 hours

Site Planning & Design                                          4 ½ hours

Structural Systems                                                 5 ½ hours

Total                                                                           33 ½ hours  The Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) assesses candidates for their knowledge, skills, and ability to provide the various services required in the practice of architecture. The ARE has been adopted for use by all 54 U.S. Member Boards and the Canadian provincial and territorial architectural associations as a registration examination required for architectural registration.

The exam is taken on a computer at a testing facility  and each individual exam can be scheduled when there is an available time.  Most individuals do not take the exams back to back on the same day.  The original exam (before computers) was given twice a year in a two day marathon.  There is a time limit that is given to a candidate once they start taking the exams of five years.

Given some of the variables indicated above, the time will vary for every individual depending on many factors.  I took 3 years for examination due to the birth of my two sons.  Late night feedings took a toll on my ability to studying.  In summary the table below indicates the timeframe one can expect if you want to become a registered Architect.

5 to 7 years                Education

3+ years                     Internship

1+ year                       Examination

9 to 11+ years                        Total

Quick Facts:

There are only 100,000 active registered architects in the country.

Percentage of the population: 311 million 1 in every 3,110   .0003% of the population.

In comparison, there are 83,560 Attorney’s in the State of Texas.

About Jeramie Rittiluechai

I am a registered architect and have been running my own firm since 2009. In my practice, I want to focus on environmentally responsible design (LEED) while utilizing the latest technology to achieve it (BIM). The increase cost will be managed with my partnership that handles the construction. A design/build approach can reduce the overall cost and time from the traditional construction approach. I am hoping to find like mind clients to explore the possibilities.

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