can you practice architecture with out a license in the U.S or abroad?


I was just wondering if anyone has any info on how important it really is to be licensed.  I know it is important in the U.S, but is the process the same in other countries? 

Sep 6, 11 3:20 pm


Sep 6, 11 5:09 pm

depends what you mean exactly. And which other countries you're speaking of specifically. In some nations for instance, Architect isn't a regulated job-title at all (ex. Finland). 

Sep 6, 11 7:14 pm

Well talking for Turkey, where I'm from you finish the 4 year college (yeah it is 4 years here not 5) then you're automatically called an architect. No licensing exams, no mandatory IDP like stuff.

Sep 7, 11 6:06 am

For example, can I open a "architectural design firm" in the U.S?  I know the title architect is regulated, but what If I design projects and then get an architect to stamp the work for a fee?  Is this legal? 

Sep 7, 11 11:31 am

Or, would an architecture firm ever subcontract work out to me as a "designer/drafter" for example.  It would be cheaper than hiring me as an employee. 

Sep 7, 11 11:36 am

in most states of the US anyone can be a "designer" and design homes up to a certain size.  There is a lot of competition in this area as people can buy home plans online and half of all contractors claim to be designers.

Sep 7, 11 7:37 pm

you can not open an architectural design firm without a license in most countries.

even in countries where architect is not protected you will not do well without getting a degree and registering in the club.


if you wanna be a designer nothing stopping you, just don't say you are an architect and don't offer architectural design services and your fine.  not sure how it works with insurance though.  can un-licensed designers who build buildings get insurance for when they fcuk up?

Sep 7, 11 9:46 pm

sure you can practice whatever you want as long as it is not called architect, architecture, architectural, etc.. anything that would allude to word architecture even in shortcuts like arktek, achit, architectonics, archdesign and so on also no go, if they want to bust your ass, and they can.

don't get into contractual situation specific to architecture and architects. in united states, architecture is defined and regulated. you should do what many do, get a license and be done with the name calling...

sorry for being baboon about it but i just sent in $300 renewal fee to state office today and spent few hours earning 5 continuing education units on universal design for home appliances for ADA, wheel chair lifts, mass storage shelving and the warning systems for the disabled... t5here were couple more courses too but i already forgot. yeeees i passed them all.

Sep 7, 11 10:49 pm

@Orhan, the only issue i have with licensing is that there is no transitional program for engineers into the architecture world. IF you're a practicing engineer and want to become an architect then your only option is to quit your job and do 3 years of schooling + 3 years of internship; however, our stamps are interchangeable on a lot of things. I'm not saying it should be a smooth transition, but if it all it takes was 2 years in school and 1 year internship, I'd do it

Sep 7, 11 11:01 pm

ah, so your complaining that effort is involved out of pace with the rewards?  well maybe you are meant for architecture after all ;-)


personally i think you should be glad you have options.  a lot of people don't.  nothing close to it frankly.

Sep 8, 11 12:17 am

[off topic] congrats Orhan on passing those free continuing education classes!

and yes, doesn't that suck that they raised the renewal fee?  part of their reasoning for the increase was that they added the continuing education requirement so they needed more cash to pay people to review their increased regulations.  bah!

but hey at least the public is getting better architecture out of us! [/o.t. and sorry for sarcastic wednesday on thirsty thursday :'( ]

Sep 8, 11 10:00 am

The problem is that I can't find a job.  No job no IDP.  I completed my masters degree and I'm more than willing to do things the legit way, but I can't find a job.  It sucks that my career has to come to a stop, and I was looking for an alternative way to gain some more work (design) experince by trying to start something on my own.

Sep 8, 11 11:07 am


You're an inspiration.  I need to do exactly what you did, and soon, or pay the big late fee!

Were you able to do all 5 hours in one day?  Did you use CE Academy, or Ron Blank, etc. online?

Sep 8, 11 11:38 am


here's the thread you need:

the ones Orhan mentions are the first three courses from AEC Daily ->

here's the wheelchair lift one ->

ron blank ->

here's another one that i took (this one was the most boring for me .. maybe because it was the last one i did) ->

all of these courses have been verified to satisfy cali's archi's board and if you need any help at all bump one of these threads and i'll answer all your questions (search california continuing education on archinect and there are a couple of threads with more/redundant information)

good luck!

Sep 8, 11 12:35 pm


You are my new best friend...  Thank you very much!

Sep 8, 11 1:28 pm

citizen, just like frac says/links.. don't wait and study the text for hours. just browse the text and start taking the test. as you move with the questions down you will see the answers spelled out. it is mostly switching between windows. you should be done in 2 hours for 5 units and feel educated.;.)

Sep 8, 11 11:14 pm

Thanks, Orhan... I really appreciate the info.

Sep 12, 11 5:59 pm

Interesting thread topic. Found it in a search results. Very good question.

I was just wondering if anyone has any info on how important it really is to be licensed.  I know it is important in the U.S, but is the process the same in other countries? 

I have a few thought points.

1. If the country you want to practice is in a country that doesn't regulate the title of architect or architecture such as Sweden, Finland, Norway, or Denmark ---- you can refer to yourself as an Architect and practice Architecture for projects that are designed with the intent to be built in those countries. 

For example, can I open a "architectural design firm" in the U.S?  I know the title architect is regulated, but what If I design projects and then get an architect to stamp the work for a fee?  Is this legal? 

If I assume the original intent of this question was that of an unlicensed design professional establishing a firm or business in the U.S. that offers "Architectural services" to people in the above noted countries, the person will have to follow the state law for domestic registration of the business with a name that avoids violating the state laws regarding the title. This designer could possibly register a business entity with domesticity in a country such as Sweden if the person wishes to use the words "Architect", "Architecture" or "Architectural" or similar terms in the name. 

However, if you don't establish a non-U.S. business entity but a U.S. entity that offers architectural services, it will need to be clear that the services offered are limited to those countries.

Please Note: Many countries have similar licensing/registration mandates in order to use the architect title and/or practice architecture and you will need to meet those requirements or have licensees in roles in the business that meets their requirements. In case of the four named countries and others like them, you don't have to worry about that.

It must be remembered that States licensing boards are agencies of States within the United States. Those States have geographical and limited subject matter jurisdiction. The geographical jurisdiction is limited to the borders of the States. The States' borders are up to and within the national borders. The U.S. also have limited jurisdiction beyond the boundary of its borders. This term is commonly referred to as "long arm of the law". There is limits to it.

The state licensing boards prohibits using the Architect title and Practice of Architecture as it pertains to projects intended to be built in the State. Many of these licensing boards prohibits unlicensed persons from representing themselves in any way or form as authorized to practice of Architecture (but there is limits.... they can only hold that prohibition as it pertains to their respective states. For example, an unlicensed person in Oregon may not market themselves in any way or form that represents the person as authorized to practice architecture within Oregon. This doesn't mean you can't represent or market your services targeting clients seeking to do projects where you are licensed or otherwise authorized to practice architecture. In case of the above countries, that is basically outright authorized. You have to be clear about where you are authorized to practice.

Here is some issues that can and probably would arise to my other points now.....

Point #2:

It is likely that due to the limited understanding of the technical nuances of the laws, you will likely find numerous licensed Architects and others often under their supervision on the licensing path filing complaints to the licensing board and face investigation by those board. 

The investigators will likely be trying to pressure you to cease and desist use of Architect title and practicing architecture because they aren't always up on the nuance and sovereign limitations of the State let alone the country. This would make such cases highly technical in the legal counsel sense yet they may likely try to impose fines against you. 

Point #3: You will have the burden to prove that A) You are not advertising or offering "Architectural services" to their state but that they are targeted to those countries. B) You will have to prove that you are legally authorized to practice architecture based on the laws of those countries. C) You have to make legal argument the limitations of the licensing boards over a person providing services outside the United States and that the board(s) would be over-reaching their legal boundary. D) You will have to prove that despite being a citizen or resident of the state or U.S. itself that you are complying with the laws and rules of those states as it pertains to goods/services offered in the state and at the same time prove that those States do not have authority to control or restrict what services you offer outside the state and the U.S. E) You also will have to understand and be clear that you understand that the licensing boards authority over what you services you offer and perform in relation to the designing of buildings with intent to be built in the respective U.S. State. 

You have to cover every legal angle. It must be understood this such approach is not seen very often so there can be great headache and frustration. The boards' investigator(s) would likely to frustrated over such a not so clear cut issue that will likely be forced into a court proceeding over the matters.

Apr 7, 17 2:52 am

I believe such a scenario can be incredibly complex but this is what a good lawyer would be useful for.

Apr 7, 17 2:54 am

If John Pawson can do it, so can you.

Apr 7, 17 7:53 am

just open a design firm.... lots of them around, advertise building design services, lots of these firms out there.  

here's a good example:

Apr 7, 17 8:30 am

Balkins the thread is six years old.  Don't resurrect old threads to regurgitate your own agenda.

Apr 7, 17 9:41 am

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