ARE Concurrent with Internship

Most states still require completion of NCARB's IDP before young professionals can start taking the ARE. If licensure requires three equal phases--education, experience, and examination--why integrate education and practice, but not practice and the exam? The good news is that young people across the country can already start taking the ARE, as soon as they feel prepared to try, regardless of what your particular state licensing board says. NCARB's system of reciprocity enables exactly the kind of professional mobility and recognition that you need.

Existing Opportunities to Take the ARE Concurrent with Internship
Two of the most proactive states at creating opportunities for licensure--California and Texas--are also the two largest populations of architects. Electing to take the ARE in either of these two states does require some additional planning and research. The basic considerations are outlined below, though candidates should have a candid discussion with their own state licensing board throughout the process.
California's "Application for Eligibility" is conveniently posted online. It entails just a few sheets of paperwork, which must be mailed with a $100 check to the California Architects Board.

Texas' forms are not available online, but you can click here for more information. The Texas Board of Architectural Examiners also assesses a one-time application fee of $100.

To get a sense of the NCARB record and certificate application processes as well as the associated fees, click here.

Will States Recognize Exams from Other States?
"Hey, if another state will let you take the exam, then go for it."
--State board administer in the Northeast
In November 2004, ArchVoices successfully contacted 25 state licensing boards, asking whether they would accept any divisions of the ARE passed in another state by a local candidate who would not have been eligible for the ARE under the state board's own rules (the other 25 either didn't answer or already allow the ARE before completion of IDP). Of those twenty-five (25), fifteen (15) boards said they would, and ten (10) said either, no, they wouldn't, or that the candidate would have to petition the board on a case-by-case basis.

Those numbers mask a wide variety of understanding. Some answers--both yes and no--were confident and convincing, while others were not. When pressed, some hesitant but clear yes answers turned to some version of, "well, it's up to our Board, but it would probably be fine." One board executive in the northeast volunteered that they had, in fact, seen a number of candidates go through California to take the ARE. Another board staff member in the Midwest volunteered that they had rejected a candidate's tests from Texas.

However, every state board we spoke with (except for one in the Midwest) agreed that, regardless of the timing of the exams, if a candidate completed licensure through another state and got an NCARB Certificate, that state would grant a reciprocal license.

5 + 3 + 2 = 5 + 2 + 3
This issue is about one thing: professional licensure. And because this is about getting more young people licensed, it is not about one other thing: avoiding NCARB?s IDP. NCARB's IDP is still a requirement in the majority of states, regardless of when you take the ARE. ArchVoices has always encouraged interns to complete NCARB's IDP, regardless of local regulations. We're now encouraging those same interns to start taking the ARE when they feel prepared, regardless of local regulations.

This is about knowing your options and being smart. If your local state board genuinely cares about the timing of the exam, they will "look behind" the NCARB Certificate to ensure that all candidates meet the same requirements (and NCARB takes a clear moral stance on that sort of second-guessing by local boards). If your state board will accept an out-of-state NCARB Certificate regardless of when that candidate took the exam, then keeping IDP and the ARE separate is not actually a requirement for licensure in your state. Your state is just slower at taking down regulatory obstacles for in-state candidates than for out-of-state candidates. And if that's the case, why not join the out-of-state candidates?

Taking the ARE "early" is like taking advanced placement classes in high school--you're not yet in college, but once you do get in, you've already got credit. It's also like getting IDP credit for working while in school. Many people uncomfortable with allowing access to ARE divisions while in internship will reflexively spout off about the critical importance of students getting practical experience (and enrolled in IDP) while in school. They should. We spout off about that too. But we value seamlessness throughout the entire licensure process, not just some parts.

What are young professionals saying about it?
In 2003, with the professional assistance of a national survey vendor, the AIA National Associates Committee and ArchVoices conducted a survey of 20,000 young professionals, which included the question, "If you were allowed to take some or all of the ARE upon graduation or concurrent with your internship experience, would you?" Nearly 90% of all survey respondents answered "yes." Those "yes" answers included 83% of respondents who were already registered (less than five years); 89% of those enrolled in NCARB's IDP; and 91% overall of those not yet registered.

What are our national organizations saying about it?
There are actually two questions here: What do the individual organizations say? And what do the organizations as a group say?

With the exception of the AIAS, which fully endorses this opportunity, the other four organizations don't seem to know what to say. The AIA recently drafted, but then tabled, a vague policy on the ARE and its timing. NCARB's website says they have "No position," though three years ago its Board voted 11-1 against allowing the ARE on graduation. To our knowledge, the ACSA and NAAB have no public positions either.

The collateral organizations apparently like to collate together, however, and in this form they've said plenty. The attendees at the 1999 Collateral Internship Summit, the subsequent 2001 CITF Final Report, and, most recently, the 2003 CIMG Final Report, all specifically recommend that the ARE be allowed immediately upon graduation. The relevant text of both reports follows, with links to the full report.

Collateral Internship Task Force Final Report
(Dated April 2001; quote appears on page 19)

VI. Examination should be permitted upon graduation

"Recipients of professional degrees from accredited programs should have the responsibility and discretion to decide when to take any or all parts of the Architect Registration Examination.

1. Regulatory boards should be encouraged to permit recipients of professional degrees from accredited programs (or their equivalents) to take the examination upon graduation. (NCARB)

2. The emerging professional must understand that experience, in addition to education and examination, is required to obtain registration. (AIAS, ACSA, NAAB, NCARB)"

Collateral Internship Management Group Final Report
(Dated May 2003; quote appears on page 2)

"In order to address concerns expressed by the collaterals, the CIMG carefully reconsidered the proposals inherent in the CITF recommendations, specifically:

Ability to take the examination upon graduation.
Recognition of the architectural graduate through use of an appropriate title.

The CIMG reaffirmed the nine recommendations of the CITF Final Report and concluded that these should remain an eventual goal. However, the Group modified the CITF's concept of the education/experience/practice continuum for the near future. In this scenario, the CIMG recognizes the current multi-part ARE and encourages, but does not require, those parts of the exam that reflect knowledge gained through education to be taken upon graduation. Critical to the success of this model would be a new NCARB policy recommending that all of its member boards 'accept all examination divisions regardless of when they are taken.'"

In October 2001, the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners (TBAE) began allowing professional degree holders to start taking the ARE after six months of work experience. In the final quarter of last year (September-November 2003), exactly 100 new candidates signed up to take the ARE through the TBAE. Of those, 43 were "early" registrants. This number suggests that there isn't suddenly a mad rush to take the exam, but also that there is a significant demand, relative to the overall numbers. Over 75% more candidates registered for the ARE in Texas during that period than would otherwise have done so. This sort of analysis over a longer term would be useful to other states in determining the likely results of providing this opportunity more directly to their in-state candidates.

The California Architects Board (CAB) maintains the most comprehensive and publicly available data on the licensure process, and it is also the state with the most resident architects--by far. Many of these data and statistics are available on the CAB website and in its newsletter, but our speculation is purely that: speculation.

In California in 1998, there were 3,342 divisions of the ARE taken by 2,600 eligible candidates. Two years later, in 2000, the number of divisions offered increased 10% to 3,676. By 2002, however, the number of divisions offered increased an astounding 70% to 6,197. Between 1998 and 2002, the number of ARE divisions offered annually in California increased over 85%.

Over that 1998-2002 period, however, the total number of exam candidates increased almost 200%--from 2,600 to over 6,700. In other words, an eligible candidate for the ARE in California took on average less than one of the nine divisions of the ARE during 2002.

But California is just weird, right? Surely the national average is more than one division per candidate per year, right?

California's numbers are actually slightly better than the national average.

NCARB's 2003 statistics show that 37,011 eligible candidates took an estimated 32,500 divisions of the ARE--also less than one division per candidate per year, and actually an even smaller number than California's average in 2002. As a reminder, these numbers are divisions taken, not divisions passed.

California licensed 874 architects in 1992, 408 in 2002, and 389 in 2004. It's just a fact. But in a time when we allegedly want more architects involved in more areas of society, it seems that we're necessarily going backwards at an alarming rate.