How Long Does it Take?

December 2013





How long does it take to become an architect? This matters for individuals (and their families), as they organize their time, money, and other resources in pursuit of full membership in the profession. This also matters for countries and their economies. As more international agreements begin to require recognition of the credentials of foreign architects, the competitive advantage of a streamlined path to licensure may become more pronounced, as ACSA Executive Director Michael Monti has pointed out in a blog post

In principle, one can earn a US architecture license in under eight years, with a five year B.Arch and three years of IDP (which can begin during school), given a quick completion of exams (ARE). But the path to licensure is actually much longer for most people. NCARB reports that for those earning their US architecture license in 2012, the average time to licensure was actually over 11 years. This is slightly down from recent years, but it is still well over the minimum time of 8 years.

How does the US stack up against other countries? To keep things simple, we focused just on minimum times. We wanted to see how the minimum time to become qualified to practice architecture compare, across the world's biggest economies. Each country's rank in terms of economy size is noted in parentheses after each country's name. 

We found that no country has a longer minimum time to licensure than the US, and that in at least five countries (Finland, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland) the practice of architecture is not regulated through licensure. Being "not regulated" can mean a few different things.

For example, in the Netherlands, the practice of architecture is not regulated but the use of the "architect" title is. In Sweden, neither practice nor the title are protected. In Switzerland, the generic title of "architect" and the practice of the profession are not regulated, but the use of specific degree-conferred titles is protected, and many architects register voluntarily through a process that requires schooling and professional experience. Similarly, in Finland there is no mandatory registration to practice although the Finnish Association of Architects manages a voluntary register.  

Things are a bit more complex than this chart shows, because many countries have paths to licensure for those with less formal education but more experience, and each country has its own quirks and definitions. Language barriers and quickly changing laws also mean that there may be inaccuracies here--so if you have a correction or an addition for a country not currently listed, please contact Kendall Nicholson, Director of Research + Information. Include a link to a source if possible. We appreciate your help.



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