Becoming a Licensed Architect

License Requirements

California’s examination and licensure requirements are more flexible than most other jurisdictions. In reviewing the requirements for licensure, it is important to realize that the process cannot be described by a single set of sequential steps. Instead, obtaining a license in California involves requirements that a candidate can meet in multiple ways.

Additionally, each requirement may have several possible entry points at which a candidate may start fulfilling it. Although each candidate’s path to licensure may differ, all candidates will complete the process with the necessary knowledge, skills, and ability to be a licensed architect who practices in a way that protects the health, safety, and welfare of Californians.

The Board looks at three separate aspects of an individual’s architectural development (education, experience, and examination) to assess a candidate’s knowledge, skills, and ability to perform the services required of a competent architect in California. No single aspect can accurately measure whether an individual is qualified to be licensed to practice architecture in California.

As outlined in the following bullets, once a candidate has fulfilled all the necessary requirements, he or she is eligible to receive a license to practice architecture in California. Those requirements are summarized as follows:

  • Provide verification of five years of education equivalents and three years of architectural training (work) experience for a total of eight years of experience as evaluated by the Board
  • This includes a minimum of one year of work experience must be under the direct supervision of an architect licensed in a US jurisdiction or two years of experience under the direct supervision of an architect registered in a Canadian province
  • Successful completion of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE)
  • Completion of the Architectural Experience Program (AXP)
  • Successful completion of the California Supplemental Examination (CSE)

All possible backgrounds that candidates might have are not described on this site. Individuals whose experience and/or education are not discussed here should contact the Board to learn how licensure requirements apply to their situation.

Note: Transcripts must be submitted by your school(s) to the Board. Submissions by a candidate are not acceptable. Degrees from a foreign college or university must be evaluated by the National Architectural Accrediting Board or a National Association of Credential Evaluation Services, Inc. (NACES) approved education evaluation service. Any cost of evaluation is the responsibility of the candidate. Professional degrees accredited by the Canadian Architectural Certification Board are accepted by the Board and do not require an education evaluation service.