One of the improvements to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) has been transparency. Over the last ten years we have seen NCARB become more nimble, foster greater participation from Member Boards, ask tough questions about current programs, and develop a compelling vision for the future.
All of these elements, I believe, will lead to a stronger pipeline into the profession. The California Architects Board (Board) is strongly committed to an efficient licensure process. The current system involves three separate and distinct components: education, experience, and examination. We call these the "3 Es". The education component, through the National Architectural Accrediting Board accreditation standards, is now tied to data NCARB collects via its "Practice Analysis". The experience component, Architectural Experience Program (AXP) (formerly known as the Intern Development Program), moved from being paper based to an "app" that lets candidates log their hours on their iPhone or Android. In an effort to make the process more candidate-friendly, the examination has been computer-based since the late ‘90s.
All of these vast improvements still contain hurdles for candidates. And those hurdles have some unintended consequences. Between the "rolling clock" and "six-month rule" there are complexities in the process that may hinder candidates’ progress toward licensure. NCARB’s annual compendium of data, NCARB by the Numbers (another good example of NCARB’s transparency), shows that the average time to attain licensure is over 12 years. Keep in mind that the process is designed to take eight years. Clearly this time frame underscores the need for improvements and NCARB has boldly accepted that challenge.
Through its Integrated Path to Architectural Licensure (IPAL) Initiative, NCARB has attracted, encouraged, and coached 18 different architectural education programs to embrace a system wherein the "3 Es" are better synthesized. Each of these programs is unique. However, they share a common goal of enriching professional degree programs with quality work experience and learning outcomes that position graduates to navigate the examination process more effectively and become licensed.