Becoming a Licensed Architect - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • How can I obtain a license?

    A candidate must provide verification of three years of architectural practice experience and five years of education equivalents for a total of eight years of experience to become licensed in California. The candidate must also successfully complete both the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) and the California Supplemental Examination (CSE). A candidate must verify five years of education and/or work experience to be eligible for the ARE and eight years for the CSE and licensure. Credit for education and training experience is granted as outlined in the current edition of the Table of Equivalents.

    Candidates must complete, prior to licensure, the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) as administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). This requirement effects new candidates applying for exam eligibility as well as candidates who were previously eligible but have not taken an exam as a candidate of the Board for five or more years and who are re-applying for eligibility.

    For more information or to begin the process, go to the Becoming a Licensed Architect section of the Board’s website. There you will find the instructions on how to apply for the ARE, the necessary applications and forms, and the applicable publications.

    It is advisable for candidates to contact the Board for specific questions or information.

  • What are the written examination filing deadlines?

    There are no filing deadlines for the ARE. New candidates may apply when they feel they have met the eligibility requirement of a minimum of five years of qualified education and/or work experience. Application for Eligibility Evaluation (PDF, 184K) are accepted on a year-round basis.

  • May I submit my application and fee for the written examination without Employment Verification Forms (EVF) and transcripts?

    Yes. The application and fee may be received prior to the Board receiving the Employment Verification Form (PDF, 57K) and transcripts; however, eligibility cannot be determined until the appropriate documents are received.

  • Do I need an accredited degree in architecture in order to be eligible for the ARE?

    No. An accredited degree in architecture is not required for licensure in California at this time. It is, however, required in most other states.

  • May I apply for the ARE if I have not graduated yet or my degree has not yet been posted to the transcripts?

    Yes, if you have enough work experience to meet the minimum five (5) year requirement.

  • May I submit a copy of my transcript with the application?

    Transcripts must be certified originals sent directly by the college or university to the Board office. The Board does not grant credit for transcripts marked "Issued to Student". All foreign transcripts must be evaluated by an approved education evaluation service.

  • May I receive credit for work experience performed during the acquisition of my degree?

    Please refer to the Table of Equivalents subsection (a)(10)(A) through (E).

  • How will I know when I can retake a failed division of the ARE?

    Upon receiving a failing score report in My Examination, you will be permitted to schedule a test appointment for that same division for a date on or after the start date of your new eligibility period. For scheduling details, please refer to Step 2 of the ARE Guidelines (PDF, 808K)

  • May I have work verification forms and/or transcripts submitted from other state boards?

    No. You must use the Board’s Employment Verification Form (PDF, 57K) to receive credit. Transcripts must be certified originals.

  • How can I receive credit for ARE divisions passed in another state?

    You must contact the other state’s licensing board and request to have a certification of passed exam scores sent to the Board’s office. The certification must include the division names, exam dates, and scores.

  • How is my work or education experience evaluated?

    Each EVF and transcript received is evaluated by the Board staff according to the Table of Equivalents (TOE). The Evaluation of Record (a record of experience credit the Board has granted) lists each EVF and transcript received and the amount of credit granted according to the TOE. The Board’s staff processes EVFs and transcripts as they are received and notifies the candidate with an update letter if any additional information is required to determine eligibility.

  • How do I know when I am eligible to take the examination?

    The Board sends an Eligible Letter to new candidates that indicates eligibility has been established and shows the amount of credit accrued. An Eligibility Notification is sent to candidates once the application has been processed.

  • Why do I have multiple identification numbers?

    The Board assigns a Candidate ID Number when an Application for Eligibility Evaluation is received. This number is used when contacting the Board. The test vendor then assigns a different ID Number when an eligible candidate is issued an ATT. This number must be used when making an appointment for examination. Additionally, NCARB assigns a record number when candidates establish their NCARB record. This number is used when contacting NCARB or submitting AXP reports.

  • How long does it take to get ARE results?

    Generally, results are processed within four to six weeks. When your score is processed and available to you, an automated notification will be sent to you via email. At that time, you will be able to access your score report online via My Examination.

  • How do I schedule to take a division of the ARE?

    You must first apply with the California Architects Board. Once you have been made eligible, you can schedule to sit for individual divisions of the ARE. You may take any division of the ARE at any time, and in any sequence you choose. You are not required to take the ARE in the same jurisdiction where you are seeking initial registration.

  • How many times can I take one ARE division in a year if I should fail?

    A failed division of the ARE can be retaken as soon as 60 days after the previously attempt at the division. A candidate may only take the same division of the ARE three (3) times within a running year.

  • What is required if I let my ARE eligibility lapse?

    If more than five years have lapsed since the candidate last took an exam, was determined eligible, or the candidate file has been purged, the candidate must submit an Application for Eligibility Evaluation, the applicable application review fee, and documentation necessary for Board staff to determine eligibility based on the Board’s current Table of Equivalents at the time of reapplication. New and reapplying inactive candidates must complete AXP prior to taking the California Supplemental Examination and obtaining licensure.

  • How does the Rolling Clock affect my scores?

    Exams that have been taken and passed after January 1, 2006 are impacted by the Rolling Clock. The candidate must complete all remaining divisions within five years of the date the first exam was passed or the candidate will lose any passing credit and must take the division again.

  • How can I appeal a denial of a license application?

    If a candidate receives notification from the California Architects Board that their license application is denied, they have the right to request a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) Part 1 of Division 3 of the Title 2 of the Government Code. Candidates must request the hearing in writing within 60 days of receiving their Notice of Denial.

    If a candidate requests a hearing the Board will be represented by the Attorney General’s Office. Candidates should be prepared to represent themselves or they may obtain an attorney to represent them at the hearing. After the hearing the application may be denied or granted. If the application is denied, the earliest date a candidate may reapply is one year from the effective date of the decision.

    If a candidate does not request a hearing within 60 days, the right to a hearing is deemed waived. The earliest date a candidate may reapply is one year from the date of the Board’s Notice of Denial.

    Send any request with attention to the Board’s Enforcement Unit at the Board’s address.