So you want to get registered as a professional architect in California? You have to study and sit for the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) first.
But you graduated from an architectural program that is not recognised by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and/or the Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB). Maybe you graduated in Brazil, UK, India or Singapore but you are now residing in California and practicing architecture. What are the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) requirements for someone like you?
Unless you went to any of the following universities, you are probably in this exact position.
- American University of Dubai, School of Architecture
- American University of Sharjah, School of Architecture and Design
- Lebanese American University
First, let’s break down the terms.
What is ARE, NAAB and CACB?
Architect Registration Examination (ARE)
The ARE is a multi-part exam that tests your knowledge of the practice of architecture. It is the examination that you have to pass in order to be registered as an architect. This exam is delievered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB)
National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB)
The NAAB scrutinises colleges, universities and programs to ensure quality education and provides a list of accredited programs.
Canadian Architectural Certification Board (CACB)
The CACB is basically the Canadian version of the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Fortunately, the programs listed are accepted in California.
So what can I do if I want to sit for the Architect Registration Examination in California, but the course that I’ve completed is not accredited by NAAB or CACB?
It is relatively simple in California as you do not need require an accredited degree in architecture for examination and licensure, unlike in other states. In short, you need to get your degree evaluated and get work experience before applying to sit for the Architect Registration Examination.
WHAT YOU NEED
Verification of at least 5 years of education and/or architectural work experience. This includes:
- Maximum of four years for a non-accredited professional degree in architecture
- Various other durations in degrees or units/modules related to architecture (eg. Urban Planning, Real Estate, Land Economy)
- Work experience under the direct supervision of a licensed architect in the US / Canada or a qualifying foreign country
5 simple steps to get your eligibility evaluated for the Architects Registration Examination
1. Meet the requirements
Ensure that you have fulfilled the 5 year requirement
This includes your architecture program & work experience.
2. Education Evaluation (USD $150+)
This can be done through the Education Evaluation Services for Architects (EESA) or by companies approved by the board listed here – Approved Education Evaluation Services. The evaluation service will evaluate and verify your non-accreditted professional degree and then send the Evaluation Report to the California Architects Board.
What do you need to do?
- Check the type of Evaluation Report needed (It would most likely be the General Evaluation Report if you have an architecture degree)
- Arrange for sealed Official Transcripts to be sent from your Educational Institution to the Evaluator. (Make sure that if they are not in English, you should get it translated and signed for approval of its language accuracy.)
- Arrange for the Evaluation Report and a copy of the Official Transcripts to be sent to California Architects Board
Fees for evaluation by approved companies (~ $150) are significantly cheaper than the EESA (~$2,500).
However, they may not be recognized by National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) if you plan to pursue NCARB Certification in the future.
3. Work Experience Evaluation
Complete the Employment Verification Form.
Work experience under the direct supervision of US licensed architects. counts as 100% credit, while work experience under the direct supervision of architects licensed in qualifying foreign countries counts as 50% credit.
Here is the list of countries:
A – G: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Costa Rica, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Germany, Greece, Guatemala,
H – M: Honduras, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco,
N – S: Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Switzerland (only if licensed by REG), Syria,
T – Z: Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, United Kingdom, Venezuela, Zimbabwe
Form should contain the original wet-ink signature of the employer.
4. Eligibility Evaluation (USD $100)
Fill up the Application for Eligibility Evaluation.
The cost for the eligibility evaluation is $100, so remember to include a $100 check/money order made payable to the California Architects Board.
Include your Employment Verification Form(s) and mail your documents.
Mail the documents to California Architects Board, 2420 Del Paso Road, Suite 105, Sacramento, CA 95834.
The staff there are super friendly and responsive! They will notify you if there’s any missing documents or issues with your application form to correct.
5. And now we wait… (and study)
The Board will then notify NCARB of eligibility status (you should have already set up your NCARB account).
You will receive your status on their website and NCARB will send eligible candidates an email confirmation of eligibility. After that you can begin scheduling appointments to take the ARE divisions.
Start studying for your ARE as early as possible. Here are some resources from NCARB.
This process will take a little bit of time and money, so here’s a breakdown of the estimated time (limiting reagents!) you’ll need and costs. Assuming you went ahead with getting an evaluation report done from an approved evaluator company (with no rush service):
- Sending Official Transcripts from education institution to evaluator company ~ 2 weeks
- Evaluation Report by evaluator company ~ 3 weeks
- You can get your report done within 3 days if you pay extra for a rush service, the cost depends on the company
- Sending Evaluation Report & all other necessary documents / forms to California Architects Board and Evaluation of Eligibility ~ 3 weeks
Total time required = At least 8 weeks
- NCARB Record Fee = $100
- Request for Official Transcripts = $10
- Evaluation Report service + return of transcripts = $150
- Application for Eligibility Evaluation = $100
- General postage costs = $25
Total costs = USD $385
I hope this guideline helps you with this process of getting your eligibility verified. It is a little tedious, but if you can go through architecture school, you can definitely do this! Check out our other guides for qualifying in the US here.
NOTE: This guide is specific to California as it does not require an accredited degree in architecture for examination and licensure. Please note that most other states require an accredited degree for licensure