There are four steps to becoming a licensed architect: Education, Experience, Examination, and Registration.


The National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is the only agency recognized by registration boards in U. S. jurisdictions to accredit professional degree programs in architecture.  Earning a professional NAAB-accredited degree in architecture (Bachelor or Master). Search accredited programs.


After establishing an NCARB record, candidates must work under the supervision of a licensed architect and report hours under the Architectural Experience Program® (AXP®). Candidates must document a minimum of 3,740 hours, which includes 96 tasks under 6 experience areas. NCARB provides AXP Guidelines to help candidates stay on track and gain the necessary experience to prepare for examination and practice.


In addition to education and experience, candidates must pass the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®), a six-division exam designed to test your knowledge and skill regarding the practice of architecture. NCARB also provides ARE Guidelines, which outline each step of the examination process. AIA NOVA offers an ARE Prep Series to help those preparing for the examination.


Complete the state requirements. See below for more information.

AIA Northern Virginia Scholarships

AIA Northern Virginia is working to continue the creation of more equitable communities within the profession.  Through various scholarships and competitions, we are supporting, encouraging, and promoting students pursuing architecture as a career.

AIA Northern Virginia Past Presidents and Fellows Scholarship

AIA Northern Virginia Mug Competition

AIA Northern Virginia ARE Scholarship

To begin your licensure process, you must create an NCARB record to begin documenting AXP hours, establish exam eligibility, and start the ARE. Your record is a verified account of your education, experience, examination history, and registrations, which NCARB uses to communicate your progress with jurisdictions. The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) is a nonprofit organization made up of the architectural licensing boards of 55 U.S. states and territories. While each jurisdiction is responsible for regulating the practice of architecture within its borders, NCARB develops and administers national programs including the AXP and ARE for candidates pursuing architectural licensure.

Once you have completed your AXP and ARE, you are now ready to apply for registration at the state level. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, Architect licenses are governed by the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation (DPOR). DPOR's mission is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the public by licensing qualified individuals and businesses and enforcing standards of professional conduct for professions and occupations as designated by statute. Candidates seeking initial licensure or reciprocity in the Commonwealth must complete the DPOR Architect License Application in order to establish eligibility. This step is required for candidates to establish eligibility to begin taking their AREs if they have chosen Virginia as their initial licensure jurisdiction.

For those on the path to becoming a licensed architect, NCARB with support from the American Institute of Architects, has created an Architect Licensing Advisor Community. This group is made up of professionals, educators, and students who volunteer their time to help others pursue licensure. These volunteers often provide candidates with their first glimpse into the licensure process, lending help and advice along the way. You can look to the Virginia Licensing Advisor for insight into completing the AXP, passing the ARE®, and meeting licensure and reciprocity requirements.

For Architects, the DPOR licensing and regulatory board is the Board for Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects (APELSCIDLA Board). This 13-member Board examines, licenses and regulates the approximately 35,000 Architects, Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, Certified Interior Designers and Landscape Architects and related business entities in Virginia.

DPOR Contact Information:

Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation

9960 Mayland Drive, Suite 400
Richmond, Virginia 23233-1463

(804) 367-8506

[email protected]