How to check an architect’s credentials

Most people aren’t aware of the rigorous training, schooling, and testing involved with becoming an architect. For starters, an architect must earn a professional degree from an NAAB-accredited or CACB-accredited program. If educated in a foreign country, have foreign education evaluated by NAAB through the Education Evaluation Service for Architects (EESA).  I earned an M.Arch degree from the University of South Florida after earning my Bachelor of Arts with a psychology emphasis from Wright State University.American Institute of Architects

The next step is to fulfill the IDP (Intern Development Program) credit requirement. Generally this process takes 3 years of working under a registered architect licensed to practice in his/her state.

The next step is to pass 9 board exams, tests called the A.R.E. (Architectural Registration Exams). This step can be completed during IDP internship, but most interns prefer to get a few years of good experience under their belts before they can begin to think about the exams. Each board exam takes several hours to take and has a minimum of 100 questions. The graphic portions take 7-8 hours.

Once these steps are completed, the architect-to-be, sometimes referred to as the graduate architect, will become registered with NCARB (the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards) and licensed in the state of which he/she has taken the exam.   Being registered through NCARB is not a requirement to be licensed in a particular state, but rather is used to help gain reciprocity in other states.  The easiest way to verify that an architect is licensed to practice architecture in your state is to check the state regulatory board to make sure that the person is licensed in the state of your project.

At the end of the day, architecture is ultimately subjective. Aside from the technical aspect of our profession it remains an art form. Choosing an architect is a very personal decision and should be based on your confidence in his/her ability and expertise to execute the work. We also feel that this decision should be based on the personal attention the architect promises to bring to you.  Balber Architecture, Inc. pride ourselves on our 100% commitment to all of our clients.  Our main goal is to exceed your expectations and set your mind at ease knowing that you have competent professionals at the helm with you at all times. We take extreme pride in all of our projects no matter how big or small and will always find the time to personally walk you through what needs to be done.  Architectural projects can be extremely complicated and may involve numerous third party consultants.  It would be our pleasure to put our talent, experience, and expertise to work for you.

If you are an aspiring architect, please keep in mind that these requirements have a tendancy to change often and without warning.  I would strongly recommend starting with a phone call in to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) to verify that all of these “hoops” are still in pace for you to jump through.

One last thing to consider:  many people associate the AIA (American Institute of Architects) as the end-all-be-all for architects.  This simply isn’t true.  While I am a member of the AIA and think it is a wonderful organization, it has absolutely nothing to do with someone being able to call themselves an architect.  What I mean specifically is that the AIA is simply a group, or organization.  There are members of the AIA that are: painters, insurance salesmen, elevator salesmen, plumbers, etc.  Somewhere along the way in our society it just sort of became accepted that if someone isn’t a member of the AIA, they aren’t licensed architects…which simply isn’t true.  I could easily end my membership (and still practice architecture), but I choose to keep it open because as I mentioned, it is a wonderful thing.  They do a lot for continuing education and keeping architects up to speed on the latest tricks of the trade.  Another reason why I’m a member is because I am well-aware of the fact that most people searching for architects will go there first.  They have no idea what NCARB is, and most people wouldn’t think to call their state’s Board of Architecture to find out if a person is licensed to practice in a particular state.

If you should have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me directly here.