CareerExplorer’s step-by-step guide on how to become an architect.

Step 1

Is becoming an architect right for me?

The first step to choosing a career is to make sure you are actually willing to commit to pursuing the career. You don’t want to waste your time doing something you don’t want to do. If you’re new here, you should read about:

What do architects do?
Career Satisfaction
Are architects happy with their careers?
What are architects like?

Still unsure if becoming an architect is the right career path? to find out if this career is in your top matches. Perhaps you are well-suited to become an architect or another similar career!

Described by our users as being “shockingly accurate”, you might discover careers you haven’t thought of before.

Step 2

Bachelor’s Degree / Master’s Degree

It is important to choose a degree program that is accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)

Typical components include:
- History of architecture
- Fundamental design concepts
- Properties of materials
- Interior space and proportions
- Structural systems
- Environmental systems
- Building technology
- Project management
- Computer-aided design and drafting (CADD)
- Building information modeling (BIM)

While earning their undergraduate degree in architecture, students often have the opportunity to participate in competitions hosted by the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture.

Master of Architecture (M.Arch)

These graduate-level programs are generally open to applicants who have earned a B.Arch. degree and want to specialize in historic preservation, design theory, solar design, or another related field.

Typical components include:
- Theoretical, technological, historical, and cultural aspects of design
- Ecologically sustainable building practices
- Historic preservation and urban planning

Step 3

Architectural Experience Program (AXP)

To become eligible for state licensing, architecture school graduates must complete a three-year training period under the supervision of a licensed architect.

The Architectural Experience Program (AXP), previously called the Intern Development Program (IDP), was developed and is administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). It is comprised of four main experience areas: pre-design, design, project management, and practice management.

Step 4


In addition to earning a degree and completing the AXP training program, architects must pass the NCARB’s Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

These are the seven exams which make up the ARE:
- Construction Documents and Services (CDS)
- Programming, Planning, and Practice (PPP)
- Site Planning and Design (SPD)
- Schematic Design (SD)
- Structural Systems (SS)
- Building Systems (BS)
- Building Design and Construction Systems (BDCS)

Step 5

Continuing Education

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards ‘offers architects an independent, cost-effective way to earn continuing education hours’ through its Monograph Collection.