So you want to become an architect? Buckle up, as it can be a long haul, though there are many paths to take to get to your desired goal.
To become an architect in the United States, a license is needed from one of the 55 different state licensing boards. Per NCARB – National Council of Architectural Registration Boards, you’ll typically need to earn a degree, gain and document professional experience, and pass the national licensing exam.
How long does it take to become an architect?
NewSchool of Architecture & Design, citing an NCARB report, says that it took architects an average of 11 years to become licensed back in 2012. This includes an average of five years to acquire an undergraduate architecture degree (or three year graduate degree) along with an additional three years of professional internships to complete Architecture Experience Program (AXP) requirements. Doctoral programs are also available.
Experience before licensure
The AXP requires robust reporting for a total of 3,740 hours across six practice-based areas. There are 96 key tasks that must be competently demonstrated at the point of licensure. Experienced designers with more than five years of work may also qualify to submit samples of their work through an online portfolio. All reports must be reviewed and approved by an AXP supervisor.
It appears however that not everyone is a fan of the current education system. Patrik Schumacher, principal of Zaha Hadid Architects, made several criticisms in a widely circulated Facebook post titled 13 theses on the crisis of architectural academia. Among his claims were that the education system is detached from the actual profession and social realities. He argues that student portfolios after five years of studying “might not include a single design that could meet minimal standards expected from a contemporary competition entry.”
If you’re looking to get started on that degree, check out Architectural Record’s annual lists of the best architecture schools.