NCARB Data Reports It Takes Less Time to Earn Architect License

The time it takes to become an architect continues to shorten, according to data from the 2016 edition of NCARB by the Numbers. Released annually by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the publication provides insight into the number of U.S. architects, the pool of professionals working toward licensure, and diversity in the profession.
“With guidance from licensing boards and ongoing dialogue with customers, NCARB has been able to streamline its programs and provide flexibility—without compromising rigor or core purpose,” said NCARB President Kristine Harding, NCARB, AIA. “As a result, the time it takes to earn a license has decreased and the average age of licensure continues to drop.”

Key findings from NCARB by the Numbers

  • In 2015, there were 110,168 architects in the United States—a 2 percent increase from 2014 
  • The number of professionals working toward licensure surpassed 41,500 in 2015

  • More than 7,000 students enrolled in an accredited architecture program—a 7 percent increase from the 2013-2014 school year 
  • Nearly 4,900 licensure candidates completed the experience requirement in 2015—a 27 percent jump from 2014
  • Almost 4,500 candidates completed the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) in 2015

  • On average, candidates take 2.1 years to complete the ARE

  • 62 percent of candidates overlap their experience and exams

  • On average, becoming an architect takes just over 13 years—from the time a student enrolls in school to the moment they receive a license-the seventh year in a row the timeline to licensure improved

  • By overlapping education, experience, and examination, graduates of accredited programs were able to shave two years off the average time to licensure
  • The pool of professionals working toward licensure is diverse, and one in three newly licensed architects are women

To read the full report, learn about recent program updates, and explore interactive data charts, visit

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