Path to Licensure

AIASF, in conjunction with the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and the California Architects Board (CAB), are here to help you turn your goals into reality with the guidance and resources you’ll need to advance from student to practicing architect. To become an architect in California, you’ll have to earn a license by completing CAB’s specific requirements which is a combination of education, experience, and examination. Although each candidate’s path to licensure may differ, all will complete the process with the necessary knowledge, skills, and ability to be a licensed architect who practices in a way that protects the health, safety, and welfare of Californians. A candidate who provides evidence of having completed the following requirements is eligible to receive a license to practice architecture:
  • Be at least 18 years of age or the equivalent of a graduate from high school;
  • Five years of architectural educational experience or the equivalent as specified in the Board’s regulations;
  • Architectural Experience Program (AXP) or the Canadian Provincial Internship in Architecture Program (IAP);
  • All divisions of the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) and California Supplemental Examination (CSE).

The Architect Registration Examination (ARE), developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB), is the national computerized architectural licensing examination that consists of multiple divisions. The ARE assesses a candidate’s knowledge and skills to provide various services required in the practice of architecture. No single examination can test for competency in all aspects of architectural practice; the ARE is not intended for that purpose. The ARE concentrates on the professional services that affect the public's health, safety, and welfare. The ARE 5.0 consists of the following five exams: Practice Management, Project Management Programming & Analysis, Project Planning & Design, Project Development & Documentation, and Construction & Evaluation.

View AIASF's 2022 ARE programming schedule here. Visit our calendar here to search for and register for upcoming classes.


Annual AIASF ARE Pact Program

"Now I'm a full licensed architect! Thanks to the ARE Pact and the AIA."
- 2017 ARE Pact participant

"It got me started on the path."

“Compared to my friend in other cities that have taken up to five years to pass them all, this had given me amazing momentum.”
– 2017 ARE Pact participant

AIASF’s ARE Pact program offers the perfect incentive to get licensed: take all exams required by NCARB for licensure within 12 months and you will receive a full refund of your $1,000 enrollment fee.

Enrollment in the Program Includes

  • A peer study group assigned by AIASF;
  • A team leader and coach assigned to your group;
  • Free admission to monthly class sessions;
  • Study materials for the group and more to assist you in successfully passing the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®).

2023 Pact enrollment will open at the beginning of the calendar year

With questions, please email Annabelle Udo-O'Malley, AIASF Program Manager:

In addition to the Architect Registration Examination (ARE), the California Architects Board (CAB) requires the California Supplemental Examination (CSE) for licensure. The CSE ensures that candidates are able to demonstrate minimum standards of competency and necessary architectural knowledge and skills to respond to the unique requirements and conditions in California.

Candidates are required to demonstrate entry-level competence in the areas outlined in the CSE Test Plan. A competent entry-level architect is able to perform the responsibilities incumbent upon themselves in providing professional architectural services to the public. Additionally, a competent entry-level architect must understand the integration of architectural practice and the architect’s responsibilities as they relate to practice in California.

Upcoming AIASF CSE Review Classes

Class #1: General Practice
Wednesday, October 12, 6 – 8 pm
Includes discussion of the Architect’s Practice Act, California Code of Regulations, regulatory agencies
Instructors: Peter Mueller, AIA / M+A Architecture & Roland Lau, AIA / Perkins Eastman

Class #2: California Building Standards Code
Thursday, October 20, 6 – 8 pm
Includes discussion of the California Building Code, California Energy Code, CalGreen, California Health and Safety Code
Instructors: Marissa Yee, AIA / Gensler & Ryan Raskop, AIA / Salter

Class #3: Programming/Design
Wednesday, October 26, 6 – 8 pm
Includes discussion of environmental conditions, water quality regulations, California Environmental Quality Act, California Coastal Act, California Clean Air Act, Essential Services Buildings
Instructors: Fai Chong, AIA / SCB and Heewon Choi, AIA / SCB

Class #4: Development/Documentation, Bidding/Construction
Wednesday, November 9, 6 – 8 pm
Includes discussion of seismic anchorage, California Public Contract Code, liens, conflict resolution, California warranty periods
Instructors: Marissa Yee, AIA / Gensler & Waylon Ng, AIA / Gensler