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Path to Licensure

Monday, July 17, 2017
Free and open to all. RSVP to

Want to get licensed, but not sure how to get started? Confused about IDP/AXP/ARE/CAB/NCARB? Have all the recent changes in the process left you flummoxed? Come to AIA East Bay for a presentation on the Path to Licensure. Please RSVP to so we can have snacks and chairs for all! If you have specific questions please include them in your RSVP.

US, Australia, and New Zealand Establish Arrangement to Recognize Architect Credentials

A new arrangement enables NCARB certified architects to pursue work internationally.

A new Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) between the architectural licensing authorities of the United States, Australia, and New Zealand enables U.S. architects to earn reciprocal licenses abroad, effective January 1.

Spearheaded by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the arrangement was signed by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) and the New Zealand Registered Architects Board (NZRAB). To take advantage of the arrangement, eligible architects must hold a current NCARB Certificate—a credential that facilitates licensure across borders.

The California Architects Board, and 28 other licensing bodies, has accepted the arrangement.  “The arrangement is an exciting opportunity for architects seeking to expand their careers internationally,” said NCARB President Kristine Harding, NCARB, AIA. “NCARB Certificate holders have been able to pursue licensure in Canada and Mexico for some time, and this arrangement represents a significant step in providing additional benefits to these architects.”

This decision is the result of over two years of research and negotiation by a special NCARB evaluation team. The group’s analysis concluded that the path to licensure in Australia and New Zealand parallels U.S. requirements, with a strong emphasis on the three pillars of licensure: accredited education, structured experience, and comprehensive examination.

Inspired by a similar agreement with Canada, U.S. and foreign architects interested in earning a license in Australia or New Zealand must meet the following requirements:

Citizenship or lawful permanent residence in the home country

  • An active NCARB Certificate
  • A license to practice architecture from a U.S. jurisdiction that has signed the arrangement
  • 6,000 hours (approximately three years) of post-licensure experience in the home country
  • Validation of licensure in good standing from the home authority
  • Licensure in the home country not gained through foreign reciprocity

To learn more about earning a license to practice architecture abroad, visit

An Inside Look at the New IDP: Practice Management

On June 29, the Intern Development Program (IDP) will be updated to reflect six broad areas of architectural practice—and renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). The following
is a breakdown of the Practice Management portion of AXP, including real-world examples of opportunities that count toward the AXP.

What is Practice Management?
Practice Management is where aspiring architects will gain competency in running an architecture firm. This is your chance to learn the ins and outs of managing a business—marketing the firm’s capabilities, securing new projects, working with clients, and sustaining a positive and professional culture, for example.

Practice Management Tasks (Required Hours: 160)
Upon finishing AXP, you should be able to competently perform the following tasks:
■ Adhere to ethical standards and codes of professional conduct
■ Develop professional and leadership skills within firm
■ Comply with laws and regulations governing the practice of architecture
■ Prepare proposals for services in response to client requirements
■ Prepare final procurement and contract documents
■ Participate in community activities that may provide opportunities or design of facilities that
reflect community needs
■ Understand implications of project delivery technologies
■ Develop procedures for responding to contractor requests (Requests for Information)
■ Participate in professional development activities that offer exchanges with other design profes
■ Understand implications of policies and procedures to ensure supervision of design work by ■ Establish procedures for documenting project decisions
■ Maintain positive work environment within firm that facilitates cooperation, teamwork, and
■ Develop procedures for responding to changes in project scope
■ Develop and maintain effective and productive relationships with clients.
■ Establish procedures to process documentation during contract administration

Are you having trouble gaining Practice Management experience? Reference the above tasks when meetingwith your supervisor, and make a plan to complete AXP.

Real-World Examples
During my first internship, I had the opportunity to develop some promotional materials that showcased the firm’s projects. The flyers were given to potential clients and were also featured in a local magazine! This type of experience would fall under the task, “prepare marketing documents that accurately communicate firm’s experience and capabilities.” Do you help manage your firm’s website or social media accounts? You might be able to earn a few hours in Practice Management.

Some of the tasks in this area can be tough to tackle early in your career—for instance, you might not “develop procedures for responding to changes in project scope” at your first job. That’s why it’s important to have regular conversations with your supervisor to ensure you’re exposed to a variety of tasks. Sometimes, you just might have to get creative. To “understand [the] implications of project delivery technologies,” you could outline the firm’s project delivery methods, and set up a meeting with your supervisor to learn why the firm chose each of the methods

IDP Experience Calculator

Use the IDP Experience Calculator to see how your current hours will merge into the six new experience

Understanding the New AXP: Project Planning & Design

On June 29, the Intern Development Program (IDP) will be updated to reflect six broad areas
of architectural practice—and renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP). To help
prepare for this change, NCARB launched a monthly blog series that breaks down the tasks
associated with each area. In addition to the blog, they offer real-world examples of opportunities that count toward the AXP.

What is Project Planning & Design?
Project Planning & Design occurs during the schematic design phase of a project, when you will begin to layout your building design, meet with your client, review applicable codes and coordinate schematics with your consultants. You will gain experience reading and applying building codes and regulations, coordinating with mechanical and structural engineers, design specialists, and other consultants and communicating the plan with the client.

Project Planning & Design Tasks (Required Hours: 1,080)
Upon finishing the AXP, you should be able to perform the following tasks:
■ Perform building code analysis
■ Develop sustainability goals based on existing environmental conditions
■ Prepare code analysis documentation
■ Define requirements for site survey based on established project scope
■ Select materials, finishes, and systems based on technical properties and aesthetic requirements
■ Determine design parameters for building engineering systems
■ Prepare design alternatives for client review
■ Present design ideas to client orally
■ Oversee design integration of building components and systems
■ Evaluate results of feasibility studies to determine project’s technical viability
■ Determine impact of existing utilities infrastructure on site
■ Apply principles of historic preservation for projects involving building restoration or renovation
■ Understand implications of evolving sustainable design strategies and technologies
■ Design landscape elements for site
■ Develop mitigation options to address adverse site conditions

Are you having trouble gaining Project Planning & Design experience? Reference the above tasks
when meeting with your supervisor, and make a plan to complete the AXP.

Real-World Examples
“At one of the firms I worked at prior to licensure, we would typically put together a few pages on building codes and zoning regulations pertaining to a new project. These “cliff notes” became a vital reference during schematic design and beyond. If anyone ever had a question about the project, we could easily find them in this document. The time I spent preparing this document would qualify for the task ‘perform building code analysis.’”

“Prepare cost of work estimates” can be difficult to gain right out of school. I started gaining experience by familiarizing myself with the materials and products we were planning to use on the project and talking to product/materials reps about costs and installation. This information was useful in determining what types of products meet the client’s budget and what needed to be adjusted. Sometimes, we would need to inform the client if we needed to set aside more money or change the scope of the project.”

IDP Experience Calculator
Use the IDP Experience Calculator to see how your current hours will merge into the six new
experience areas. Any hours that fall outside of the six new areas can be used to fulfill additional
jurisdictional requirements.

Other Useful Links:
Understanding the New AXP: Practice Management
Understanding the New AXP: Programming & Analysis

Seventeen Experience Levels Realigned into Six

On June 29, 2016 IDP’s current 17 experience areas will be realigned into six broad practice-based areas:

■ The six new experience areas are:
■ Practice Management
■ Project Management
■ Programming & Analysis
■ Project Planning & Design
■ Project Development & Documentation
■ Construction & Evaluation

To help you prepare for this change NCARB launched a monthly blog series that breaks down the tasks associated with each area. Plus, we offer real-world examples of opportunities that count toward the AXP. (Did you know that IDP is to be renamed the Architectural Experience Program—AXP?) In February, NCARB addressed the Programming & Analysis experience area.

What is Programming & Analysis?
Programming & Analysis is the first phase of a project, often referred to as pre-design. During this phase, big-picture ideas are addressed and a project plan is established. Candidates will gain experience by researching and evaluating client requirements, code and zoning ordinances and site data to develop recommendations on the feasibility of a project.

Programming & Analysis Tasks (Required Hours: 260)
Upon finishing the AXP, candidates should be able to competently perform the following tasks:
■ Determine impact of applicable zoning and development ordinances to determine project
■ Gather information about community concerns and issues that may impact proposed project
■ Analyze existing site conditions to determine impact on facility layout
■ Evaluate results of feasibility studies to determine project’s financial viability
■ Determine impact of environmental, zoning and other regulations on site
■ Establish sustainability goals affecting building performance
■ Prepare diagrams illustrating spatial relationships and functional adjacencies
■ Establish project design goals
■ Prepare site analysis diagrams to document existing conditions, features, infrastructure and
regulatory requirements
■ Consider recommendations from geotechnical studies when establishing design parameters
■ Assist owner in preparing building program including list of spaces and their characteristics
■ Develop conceptual budget
■ Gather information about client’s vision, goals, budget, and schedule to validate project scope
and program
■ Evaluate opportunities and constraints of alternative sites
■ Assess environmental impact to formulate design decisions
■ Determine impact of existing transportation infrastructure on site
■ Consider results of environmental studies when developing site alternatives
■ Review legal documents related to site to determine project constraints

NCARB says, “Are you having trouble gaining Programming & Analysis experience? Reference the above tasks when meeting with your supervisor and make a plan to complete the AXP.”

Real-World Examples
“During my internship, I was tasked with evaluating the local zoning code to determine the maximum buildable area on a given site. At first, I expected to simply “determine [the] impact of applicable zoning and development ordinances to determine project constraints.” But I soon found myself consulting a local code authority while communicating with the client. These conversations led me to gain experience in five associated tasks, which ultimately informed my recommendation on the project’s financial viability.

Every project is unique, but every project starts with an idea that requires a program and thorough analysis. Like a project, your experience is unique and it sometimes requires periods of analysis.

If you find yourself lacking in experience in this area, use this time to ask your supervisor to attend a predesign meeting or offer to take on a new task. You might find yourself gaining much broader experience than you first anticipated.”

IDP Experience Calculator
Use the IDP Experience Calculator to see how your current hours will merge into the six new experience areas. Any hours that fall outside of the six new areas can be used to fulfill additional jurisdictional requirements.

NCARB to Rename the Intern Development Program: Emerging Professionals

This June, the program designed to guide aspiring architects through the early stages of their career will be renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP).

As part of an industry-wide push to retire the term “intern,” the Intern Development Program (IDP) will be renamed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP), effective June 29, 2016. Developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), the program is designed to guide aspiring architects through the early stages of their career so they can earn a license and practice architecture independently.

This milestone decision was enacted by NCARB’s Board of Directors and is the result of over a year of research and outreach by various NCARB committees, as well as feedback from state licensing boards, industry leaders and emerging professionals. Based on the recommendations of its Future Title Task Force, NCARB announced in May it would sunset the term “intern,” while preserving the title “architect” for licensed practitioners.

“Renaming the IDP is another step in realigning our programs to better reflect current practice and terminology,” said NCARB President Dennis Ward, AIA, NCARB. “For example, one firm may refer to a nonlicensed employee as a ‘senior designer’ while another uses the title ‘project manager.’ Yet, neither is likely to introduce that individual to clients as an “intern.”

Since each state sets its own requirements for licensure, the program’s new name will carry an important caveat: “formerly known as the Intern Development Program, or IDP.” This language will accommodate existing laws or rules that refer to the program’s current name. Similarly, while NCARB will continue to refer to those working toward licensure as “aspiring architects” or “exam candidates,” licensing boards have the authority to prescribe their own terminology for unlicensed professionals.

The June launch of the new name will accompany the program’s realignment of experience areas. Over the next several months, NCARB will work with state licensing boards and the architectural community to implement these changes.

For more information on NCARB’s experience program, visit

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards’ membership is made up of the architectural
registration boards of all 50 states as well as those of the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. NCARB assists its member registration boards in carrying out their duties and provides a certification program for individual architects.

NCARB 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. In order to achieve these goals, the Council develops and recommends standards to be required of an applicant for architectural registration; develops and recommends standards regulating the practice of architecture; provides to Member Boards a process for certifying the qualifications of an architect for registration; and represents the interests of Member Boards before public and private agencies. NCARB has established reciprocal registration for architects in the United States and Canada.


Emerging Professionals: NCARB Tackles the Great “Intern” Title Debate

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) will work with U.S. licensing boards and the architect community to implement the recommendations of its Future Title Task Force: restrict regulatory language to post-licensure status only and remove use of “intern” terminology.

The Proposal

Washington, D.C. — The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) will embark on a new initiative to sunset the usage of the term “intern” as a way to describe those who are working to become architects versus those who are already licensed architects.

The new term? There isn’t one. Just don’t use “intern.”

“Architects are those who have met all the requirements to become licensed in states and jurisdictions throughout the United States,” said NCARB President Dale McKinney, FAIA, NCARB. “Everyone else is not an architect. But their status also doesn’t need a regulatory title such as ‘intern’ or any similar reference.

This has become a term that has been perceived as negative by many in the architecture community and a term that really does not fully value the work that aspiring architects bring to the profession.”

McKinney formed a Future Title Task Force in 2014 to come up with a solution to the profession’s titling debate—an issue he calls “fraught with controversy.” He chose the Council’s Past President Blake Dunn, AIA, NCARB, to lead the group, comprised of architects and architect candidates including leaders in various architectural collateral organizations.

The task force carefully debated the issue for many months, finally coming to the conclusion that there is no agreed-upon terminology for professionals on the path to licensure. At the same time, the task force recommended that all variations of “intern” are no longer reflective of the pre-licensure population.

“We felt this was the right moment in time to tackle this issue,” McKinney said. “If we don’t tackle it now, then when?”

NCARB is planning a series of initiatives, which will include proposing changes to NCARB Model Law and guidelines. These changes could, in turn, lead to consideration by the 54 U.S. licensing boards to remove “intern” from existing rules and regulations. Any Model Law proposal would be addressed in a resolution requiring a majority vote by representatives of the licensing boards at a future NCARB Annual Business Meeting. Implementation would not occur unless a jurisdiction adopts the Model Law change or makes some other change through amending its own laws, rules, or regulations to remove the word.

In the meantime, NCARB Chief Executive Officer Michael Armstrong indicates NCARB will begin making plans to remove “intern” from its own communications and correspondence. A future action, subject to review by the NCARB Board, is likely to involve the renaming of its Intern Development Program (IDP).