At a recent Board meeting, we heard comments about the future of the profession. The discussion was centered around the "architect-in-training" issue (from recent proposed legislation, SB 1132), and one speaker expressed grave concern that a decreasing number of graduates are entering the profession. The reality is that there are many facts that are actually quite encouraging.
For example, National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) by the Numbers released in August 2016 indicates that the number of candidates completing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) is at an all-time high.
Other key take-aways from NCARB by the Numbers include:
- In 2015, there were currently 110,168 architects in the United States (US)—a 2 percent increase from 2014. California had 20,595 licensees in 2015, a 1.5 percent increase from the previous year.
- There were 41,500 professionals working toward licensure, also an all-time high.
- More than 7,000 students enrolled in an accredited architectural program—a 7 percent increase from the 2013–2014 school year.
- 27 percent more candidates, approximately 4,900, completed the Architectural Experience Program (AXP).
- California candidates took more than 8,200 divisions of the ARE, a 16 percent increase over 2014. Completions of the ARE also increased to 584, a 35 percent increase since 2014.
There are other trends that show great promise for the future of the profession:
- 37 percent of ARE completions were by women, the highest number on record;
- 36 percent of new NCARB record holders were non-white, whereas 23 percentage of the US population is non-white, per the US Census Bureau; and
- When Hispanic or Latino origin is considered, new non-white NCARB record holders are at 44 percent, compared to 38 percent of the population per the US Census Bureau.
Many of these impressive facts are due to improvements in NCARB’s programs. Those enhancements translate to a more efficient licensure system and the statistics validate these gains. For example:
- The average time to complete the AXP is 4.3 years, a 12 percent decrease from the prior year. On average, California candidates complete the AXP in 4.4 years, a 12 percent decrease since 2014.
- Candidates took an average of 2.1 years to complete the ARE, 6 months quicker than in 2014. In 2015, California candidates were completing the ARE almost a full year less than they did in 2014.
- 62 percent of candidates complete the AXP and ARE concurrently, an increase of 7 percent.
There are other considerations that will improve these statistics. For example, ARE 5.0 will consist of six divisions (rather than the current seven). In addition, the AXP has been streamlined into essentially a two-year program. The new Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure program, which integrates the examination and experience components into the degree programs, will reduce the time to licensure dramatically.
I have been deeply involved in NCARB’s work, particularly on the ARE, and I have seen the improvements first-hand. Taken together, these facts all underscore a promising future for the profession. The licensure system has been rebuilt into a more efficient, integrated, and data-driven process to bring the next generation of practitioners into the profession. There is more to be done, but we have much to be enthusiastic about.