Frequently asked questions: Architects

Select a topic below:

Applying for a license

What is my degree worth toward my examination requirements?

  • If you received an accredited bachelor's or master's degree in architecture from a university recognized by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB), you'll be given 5 years of academic experience credit.
  • If you received an undergraduate or graduate degree in architecture from a university that isn't recognized by NAAB, you'll be given 4 years of academic credit.

Do I have to work under the supervision of a Washington architect?

In addition to completing IDP, you may need to report practical work experience completed under the direct supervision of a U.S. or Canadian-licensed architect.

Does work for an engineer count for experience credit?

Sometimes engineering work experience or experience under a licensed professional engineer is creditable. Please contact the board office for further details.

Will I receive credit for contract work for an architect or engineer?

Possibly. The limitations of 10 weeks for full-time work and 6 months for part-time work still apply. For more information about credit for work experience, see WAC 308-12-025: What qualifications do I need to meet if I am not already licensed?.

How do I get an application packet for registration?

To get an application packet, download the online Architect Registration Initial Application.

Continuing education

How many hours of professional development activities do I need?

You need to accumulate 24 professional development hours (PDH) over your 2-year renewal period. At least 16 PDF must address public health, safety, and welfare.

Where can I find a list of professional development activities or classes?

How do I record my hours?

What if I get audited?

You'll be asked to submit your records and supporting materials. If the board determines you're missing hours, or some of your activities don't qualify, we may require you to make up the shortage.

When do I start recording my hours?

Start recording your professional development hours now. The audits will start after July 2013.

Updating your license

How do I report a change of address or name change?

To notify us that you have changed your name* or address:

  • Write to:
    Washington State Board for Architects
    Department of Licensing
    PO Box 9045
    Olympia, WA 98507-9045
  • Fax: 360.570.7098
  • Email:

*For name changes, please include a copy of documentation.

Intern Development Program (IDP)

Is the Intern Development Program mandatory?

Yes, completion of IDP became mandatory on July 29, 2001. If you were accepted for exam registration before July 29, 2001, you may not be required to submit an IDP record if you have kept your application file active. If your application file shows no activity for 5 consecutive years, you'll have to reapply and will be held to the licensing requirements in effect at the time of reapplication (WAC 308-12-065).

Do I have to complete IDP before taking an exam?

No. If you have a NAAB-accredited degree, you only have to be enrolled in IDP to start taking the exams.

If I have completed my required work experience but I haven't yet completed all of the requirements of the IDP, may I begin the exam process?

Yes, if you have a NAAB-accredited degree.

Do I still have 5 years to complete all my exams if I'm doing IDP at the same time as my exams?

Yes, you're still required to complete all exams within 5 years of the date of your first passed exam.

If I don't have a professional degree (M/Arch or B/Arch), can I complete the requirements of IDP? If so, will I qualify for NCARB certification?

Yes, you can complete the training requirements and apply for a Washington State license. However, you won't receive full IDP NCARB certification because of the lack of a degree. You also will need to sit for an oral exam before you can get a license.

If I start IDP and then move or change jobs, how do I continue the IDP?

You and your advisor should notify the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) immediately and follow their instructions to change your sponsor.

Architect Registration Exam (ARE)

Do I have to be a Washington resident to apply for the exams in Washington?


How soon may I begin taking the exams after I submit my application?

The testing agency, Prometric (, will send you exam scheduling information when they notify you in writing that your application is complete and you are eligible to take exams.

Where are the testing centers?

Examinations are administered across the United States. Testing locations in Washington are located in Puyallup, Mountlake Terrace, and Spokane.

When should I expect to receive my exam scores?

If you aren't a direct registration candidate through NCARB, the score reports are sent to board staff from the testing agency, Prometric ( Once they're received, your file is updated and the reports are mailed to you. Expect them approximately 4–7 weeks after you've taken your exam.

How many times may I take the exam? Is there a limit?

You may continue to take the exams until you pass. However, all exams must be passed within 5 years. This 5-year time limit begins the month you pass the first division of the exam. On a rolling-clock basis, you'll be required to retake any sections of the exam you passed more than 5 years ago, along with any sections not yet passed.

How long do I need to wait to retake an exam?

You may retake a failed exam every 6 months, with no limit on the number of times you may take an exam.

Do I need to have an oral interview if I have IDP certification?

The board may request an oral interview from candidates. Usually the board will waive this requirement for applicants who have an NCARB "Blue Cover" certificate. You can get an NCARB "Blue Cover" certificate by completing the IDP and receiving a Bachelor's or Master's degree in architecture from a university recognized by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Why does my score report from NCARB list the status of my exam as "exempt"?

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) implemented a 5-year clock on January 1, 2006. Any exams you took before that date will be marked "exempt." However, Washington's 5-year clock overrides NCARB's, and you're still required to pass all of the exams within 5 years.

Do I still have to complete all my exams in 5 years if my score report from NCARB says "exempt"?

Yes, Washington's 5-year clock rule applies to all candidates taking exams through Washington State. The score reports issued by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) give you detailed feedback on your performance for that division of the exam, but the "exempt" status isn't relevant to Washington's 5-year clock.

How will the transition to the new ARE (ARE 4.0) affect me?

The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) launched a new version of the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) in July 2008. If you passed at least 1 division of the current exam before May 2008, you'll have until June 2009 to pass the remaining divisions. If you have passed exams in version 3.1, you can determine the version 4.0 exams you still need with NCARB's transition calculator (


Does Washington have reciprocity with other states?

Yes, you may receive a certificate of registration if you're a registered architect in another state or territory of the United States, the District of Columbia, or another country. However, you must strictly meet Washington's licensing requirements.

How do I apply for reciprocity with Washington?

Washington allows reciprocity through 4 different paths:

  • With an NCARB council record ("blue cover").
  • With 9 years of licensure, but no council record.
  • With completed IDP (licensed less than 9 years).
  • With work experience only (no council record or IDP). If you haven't completed IDP, you must verify that you've been licensed at least 9 years in another jurisdiction.

The requirements vary for each path. For specific information, see How to get your license: By reciprocity.


What is the difference between an "architect of record" and a "designated architect"?

Washington law and rule uses "architect of record" in conjunction with stamping and sealing for a specific project submitted to authorities having jurisdiction. "Designated architect" identifies licensed architects who have been authorized by their business entity to sign and seal its technical submissions. Building officials most commonly use "architect of record" on building permits to identify the firm and/or individual who stamped and sealed.

Our law doesn't, nor does it intend to, instruct building officials, architects, or the media regarding identification of architects and use of titles. The following titles, and other variations, are often used synonymously within the architect profession to identify participation on architectural teams, in joint ventures, or in supporting roles for a specific project:

  • Architect of Record
  • Designated Architect
  • Executive Architect
  • Project Architect
  • Design Architect
  • Principal Architect

I'm an architect but my employer doesn't offer architectural services. Does my employer need to register with the board?

No, a Certification of Authorization isn't required if your employer doesn't offer to practice architecture. This exception is applicable when:

  • You're employed as an in-house architect by a government entity, educational organization, institutional business, industrial company, or similar non-architectural business.
  • You're an architect employed by a business or organization that doesn't offer architectural services in this state.
  • your work includes facility planning and preparing technical submissions for any construction or alteration of buildings owned by your employer.

However, the following 3 things are important to remember:

  1. If your employer is a business, it must have a business license issued by the Department of Revenue (DOR) which classifies its business activities and the principal products and services it provides. Your activity as an in-house architect doesn't require your employer to submit a Registered Professional Design Firm Addendum to DOR if it isn't a principal service provided by the business.
  2. Technical submissions prepared by you or under your supervision, if submitted to building authorities having jurisdiction, must be signed and sealed. This makes you the "architect of record" for each set of documents prepared for your employer's use.
  3. If your employer offers architectural services, it must submit a Registered Professional Design Firm Addendum to get a Certification of Authorization from the Board for Architects, in addition to having a business license issued by DOR. The addendum must list you as a "designated architect," which requires you to have ownership and financial responsibility for the organization. For more information, see How to get your certificate: Firms.

Do I need to register as an architect firm if I'm a sole proprietor?

Yes. Any business entity, including a sole proprietorship, offering architecture services in Washington State must register with the board, regardless of its business structure.

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