What does it take to become an Architect? This is a question often asked of us. While the answer is straightforward, the requirements to become an Architect are by no means easy. By law, individuals may only represent themselves with the title “Architect” if they meet very specific requirements set forth by the licensing board of their state. In South Carolina, for instance, the Labor and Licensing Board mandates the following requirements before they will grant an architectural license:
- Complete a professional architecture degree from a college or university whose program is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) or the respective Canadian board. For most architects, a professional architecture degree means earning either a Bachelor of Architecture (which is a 5 year degree program) or a Master of Architecture degree.
- Complete the NCARB (National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) Intern Development Program (otherwise known as IDP). In order to complete the IDP, one must perform a minimum of 5,600 hours of work, most of which must be performed under the direct supervision of a Licensed Architect. These hours must be earned in 16 different categories under fairly strict guidelines and submitted to NCARB for periodic review. Most candidates find that they spend more than three years fulfilling this requirement.
- Take and pass all portions of the Architectural Registration Examination (ARE). The ARE has been reorganized slightly in recent years from 9 separate exams to 7 somewhat larger exams. Each exam focuses on a different core competency required of an architect. These exams include knowledge based questions and graphical drawing challenges.
- Complete the application process and be approved by the South Carolina Board of Architectural Examiners
This process of education, training, internship and examination is a long and rigorous process. However, the Architect’s occupation is very rewarding. Architecture is a unique blend of art and engineering that is unlike any other profession.