Getting Licensed in California


I got an internship to work for an architect in high school (2005). I got hired on and worked for him through college (2005-2009) and during the recession, dabbled in other things. I didn't go to college for architecture and never ended up finishing or getting my bachelor's degree. I got hired back on a couple years ago and am just curious if anyone knows when I can start to apply to get my license or if I even can. I live in California. I started an NCARB record, but honestly, I don't know what to do with it or where to start? Any advice would be great. Thank you.

Sep 10, 19 7:27 pm
atelier nobody

You can apply when you have a total of 5 years verified work experience under a licensed architect - your part time work while in school will count, but obviously not at 1:1 (I think there's a formula to convert part time hours to full time "years" for credit). There are some other things that can give you "credit" toward this (e.g. working for a contractor or engineer) but most or all of them only give you half credit, and have a maximum you can apply.

Once they've confirmed you are eligible, you will then need to work a minimum of another 3 years (8 years total), complete the AXP, and pass the ARE and CA Supplemental Exam. I'm not sure if AXP hours worked before the determination of eligibility count. I believe you can take your ARE exams concurrently with the AXP (still after the eligibility determination, of course), but the California Supplemental cannot be taken until both the ARE and AXP are completed and verified.

Sep 10, 19 7:50 pm

After 5 years of verify experience, you maybe qualified to take the ARE but for licensure, you will have to furnish proof of completing all the licensing requirements. The exact number of verified experience needed maybe shorten a little by education. You still have to complete all the required AXP hours and document 8 years of education and/or experience. You also have to pass the ARE and California's Supplemental Exam (CSE).

Everyday Architect posted the licensure handbook which is the definitive source other than talking explicitly with the licensing board in California with regards to anything that maybe a grey area that isn't clear in the document. 

I'm not licensed but I am aware of the licensing path options in California.


"* Work Experience cannot overlap AXP" means that hours recorded and attributed to AXP training hours will not be counted as part of the 5 years. You need to document basically up to 8 years of fulltime employment (depending on how much is credited to education) and completing the AXP hours. That is what you need to essentially show. So.... basically 16,000 hours of experience and AXP consumes a specific number of hours of experience but you basically need to support 16,000 work hours of experience with an architect and/or other qualifying employment settings for the experience that is allowed. You can't get away with working 8 years at 15-20 hours a week. You need to document 10,000 to 10,400 hours of experience under a licensed architect in ADDITION to that which is required for AXP. I basically spelled out the hours even though the laws aren't spelled out in total number of hours but you can math it out from the language of the law.




Good luck.

atelier nobody

FYI, the handbook does not include the full table of equivalents for education and experience, for that you need to go to the full regulations:


Thank you, these should definitely help.

Sep 11, 19 4:15 pm

I'm going through that process now, it's way too much red tape

Sep 11, 19 8:51 pm

Wish you best of luck through the red tape and all.

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