The National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has released its annual report. So what did the organization in charge of administering the often–dreaded-but-necessary Architect Registration Examination® (ARE®) accomplish last year?
One of its major initiatives centered on international cross-licensure. In June, NCARB Member Boards okayed a resolution that established mutual recognition between the organization and the Architects Registration Board, its counterpart in the United Kingdom. U.K. officials are slated to pass legislation this year that will pave the way for a binational agreement wherein architects from both countries will be able to pursue reciprocal licensure. Unlike the U.K., the U.S. doesn’t have a national licensure program, so it will be up to each of the 55 U.S. boards to decide whether or not to accept Mutual Recognition Agreement for reciprocal licensure. NCARB leadership met with its counterparts in Mexico and Canada to refine a Tri-National Mutual Recognition Agreement that would allow architects to work across the three countries.
NCARB also continued its work to increase the number of BIPOC registered architects. Almost 15 percent of U.S. architects are people of color or members of an ethnic minority group. Even though this figure has inched up over the years, BIPOC candidates are still far less likely to complete licensure compared to their white counterparts. Consequently, NCARB and National Organization of Minority Architects (NOMA) are continuing their research collaboration around diversity in the profession. Their 2022 edition of Baseline on Belonging, builds on previous work that examined how race, gender, socioeconomic background, age, and other factors affect who is and who is not taking the ARE®. Relatedly, in the next few months NCARB will convene a special working group to strategize around Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) in architecture. The Governance Work Group will make a recommendation on updating NCARB’s structure with an eye towards improving DEI during this year’s Annual Business Meeting.
There’s good news for current future ARE candidates. For decades, NCARB used the Prometric platform for its exams, but as of June 14 of last year, examinees are scheduling and taking the tests with a new provider. Thanks in part to the changes, test-takers can schedule and reschedule exams up to 48 hours before an in-person test, and up to 24 hours before an online exam. Tests can now be rescheduled without a fee; under the new system, candidates who cancel are refunded in full. Those studying for the ARE now also have more practice tests available to hone their skills.
Amid these changes, the number of would-be architects taking NCARB exams and completing the path to licensure is still down compared to pre-pandemic levels. In 2021, NCARB administered more than 40,000 exams, about one-fifth fewer than the number of exams issued pre-pandemic. Around 7,500 would-be architects started a new NCARB record, a drop of about ten percent than the average three years before the start of the pandemic. In 2021, more than 3,500 candidates successfully finished the licensure process, a figure that’s approaching pre-pandemic completions.