Last week, you were introduced to two data sources on the profession of architecture – NAAB Annual Report on Architectural Education and the Directory of African American Architects.  Today, we introduce you to NCARB by the Numbers. –

As stated on the its website, the 2020 edition of NCARB by the Numbers, “the data reported in this publication was captured at the end of the 2019 calendar year, and much of the information gathered demonstrates growth and positive evolution: continued increases in the number of U.S.-licensed architects, higher demand for additional out-of-state licenses, increased diversity and gender parity at many career stages, and a slight decrease in the time it takes to earn an architecture license.”

More specifically, the data shared is on the following:

  • State of Licensure
  • Public Perception of Licensure
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Examination
  • Demographics
  • Navigating the Path
  • NCARB and NOMA
  • Inside NCARB
  • Jurisdictions

One of the first data points relates to the following:

Number or U.S. Architects Continues Upward Trend: The number of architects licensed in the United States rose to 116,242 in 2019, according to the annual Survey of Architectural Registration Boards. This represents a 1 percent increase from 2018 and a 10-percentage point increase compared to the number of U.S. architects seen a decade ago.

Now, here are some of the details from NCARB by the Numbers; for complete details, access the report.

State of Licensure:

The number of U.S. architects continued to rise in 2019, suggesting that the profession heading into 2020 was healthy and growing. At the start of 2020, there were over 116,000 licensed practitioners across the 55 jurisdictions, a 1 percent increase from 2018. Architects also collectively hold over 137,000 out-of-state (reciprocal) licenses. This is evidence that the profession has an effective path to mobility.


In 2019, just over half of newly licensed architects started their NCARB Record while in school, indicating that the majority of students are now overlapping experience with education. Growth in the proportion of individuals starting their Record in school suggests NCARB’s efforts to raise awareness of the licensure process are helping students make early progress on their experience and examination requirements for licensure.


The number of candidates who completed the AXP fell for the third successive year in 2019, an anticipated adjustment following the peak in 2016. Although 15 percent fewer candidates completed the experience program in 2019 compared to 2018, 2019’s program completions remain above the decade’s average of 5,308.


Just under 4,000 candidates completed the Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) in 2019, a 21 percent drop compared to 2018. Required by all 55 U.S. jurisdictions, ARE 5.0 is a six-part exam taken by candidates seeking architectural licensure.


Gender representation and racial and ethnic diversity both increased in 2019 at several key stages on the path to licensure. An area of progress for both metrics was the proportion of candidates completing the experience program in 2019.

Racial and ethnic diversity also increased across most career stages, including a 3 percentage point jump in people of color completing the AXP and a 4 percentage point increase in people of color starting the ARE. However, this growth is largely restricted to the Asian and Hispanic/Latino population, with almost no change seen in the proportion of African American individuals in the profession.

Navigating the Path:

Assessing when and why candidates stop pursuing a license is a crucial part of understanding the impact licensure requirements—specifically NCARB’s programs—have on emerging professionals in the architecture field. In addition, comparing the progress of different demographic groups allows NCARB to identify pinch points throughout the process of becoming an architect and examine how program adjustments might combat inequity in the profession.

Since 2012, the proportion of women who continue their pursuit of licensure has been equal to, or has surpassed, their male counterparts. The opposite is true for candidates who are people of color; on average, non-white candidates are 31 percent more likely to stop pursuing a license than their white peers.


It’s essential that the path to becoming an architect is fair and equitable, and that the individuals who work in the architecture profession reflect the communities they serve.

In 2020, NCARB partnered with the National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) to conduct a joint survey exploring candidates’ experiences while pursuing licensure, to assess whether there are impediments and pinch points that disproportionally affect minorities and other underrepresented groups.

The results suggest there is often slight, but widespread, disparity throughout the licensure process and in firm culture. While all people of color—especially women of color—are impacted by these disparities in some ways, African Americans report challenges at nearly every stage. In addition, the results revealed significant hurdles for older candidates pursuing the AXP, and highlighted ways the ARE may pose a more significant obstacle for women than for men.

As you can see, there is a tremendous amount of valuable data in NCARB by the Numbers; as an aspiring architect, it is well worth your time to review and understand its implications.

Source: NCARB by the Numbers




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