California Architect License Exam

How to Get Your California Architect License

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On this page, you’ll find an exhaustive guide on the California Architect License Requirements and the Architect Registration process in California. It provides all the crucial information you need including state regulations, application fees, and filing instructions among other relevant details. If you need any assistance related to the licensing process, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to offer further details about our software and managed license services to support your needs.

How do I become an architect in California?

To become an architect in California, you’ll need a Professional and/or Post-Professional Degree in Architecture from a NAAB-accredited program, along with fulfilling the AXP requirement. These criteria ensure a solid foundation of knowledge and practical experience for aspiring architects in California.

How Do I Take The Architect Registration Examination In California?

Company Licenses

California Certificate of Authorization to Practice Architecture

  • Agency: California Architects Board
  • Law: CA Business and Professions Code § 5535.2
  • Ownership Requirements:  There are no ownership requirements for corporations. However, for a Professional Corporation (PC), each director, shareholder, and officer must hold a valid license.

✓ Note: While California doesn’t issue firm licenses at the state level, licensed architects are required to submit a business entity report form. Additionally, they must file an updated report within 30 days of any changes in firm information. This ensures that the state is kept informed of relevant updates regarding architectural firms.

  • Is an exam required?: Not Set
  • Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?: Not Set
  • Do I Need To Have A Foreign Qualification?: Nt Set

First-Time Applicants

The following information pertains to architectural firms seeking an initial license in California. If you currently possess a license and wish to renew it, please refer to the renewal section.

Renewal is Not Required

Re-filing of business entity reports is solely required in the event of any changes in the provided information.


  • Fill out the Business Entity Report Form (Amendment)
  • Agency Fee: $0
  • Deadline: Licensees are required to promptly inform the Board about any changes in their name and/or address. Furthermore, within 30 days of such changes, licensees must submit an updated business entity form reflecting the new information. This ensures that the Board remains updated with accurate details regarding licensees’ name and address.

Individual Licenses

California Architect License

  • Agency: California Architects Board
  • Do I Need To Have A Foreign Qualification?: Not Set
  • Is an exam required?: Yes
  • Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?: Not Set

Exam Application:

First-Time Applicants

  • Agency Fee: The agency fee for license renewal depends on the timing of the application. It is $300 if applied for during the first half of the renewal period, or $150 if applied for during the second half of the renewal period.
  • Original Ink is required
  • Note: Upon successfully passing the California Supplemental Examination, applicants will receive the Applications for Licensure.

How to Apply:

  • Create an NCARB Record and select California as the testing jurisdiction. If you previously had an eight-digit testing number, please contact the Board before establishing an NCARB Record.
  • Complete the Application for Eligibility Evaluation.
  • Choose one of the four pathways.
  • Successfully complete the Architect Registration Examination (ARE) within the five-year rolling clock period, passing each division.
  • Fulfill the requirements of the Architectural Experience Program (AXP) or Internship in Architecture Program (IAP). You may begin reporting AXP hours once you turn 18 or the equivalent of a high school graduate. It is also possible to concurrently fulfill this requirement while completing the ARE.
  • Pass the California Supplemental Examination (CSE).
  • Submit an Application for Licensure.

Reciprocal Registration

  • Fill out the California Architect Reciprocity Application
  • Agency Fee: The application fee is $35. Additionally, there is a $100 fee for the California Supplemental Examination (CSE) and a license fee ranging from $150 to $300.

How to Apply:

  1. Submit the California Architect Reciprocity Application.
  2. Successfully complete the California Supplemental Examination (CSE).
  3. Fill out and submit an Application for Licensure.

Registration Renewal

California Interior Designer Certification

  • Agency: California Council For Interior Design Certification (CCIDC)
  • Do I Need To Have A Foreign Qualification?: Not Set
  • Is an exam required?: Yes
  • Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?: Not Set

First-Time Applicants

  • Instructions: There are four paths available for certification:
    • Path 1: This path is for applicants who meet the minimum education or experience requirements but are still in the process of completing the necessary education/work experience. They may take the IDEX California® Examination. After passing the examination, these candidates must provide proof of education/work experience listed under the Categories of Certification to complete the certification process.
    • Path 2: This path is for qualified candidates who are eligible to complete the certification process upon passing the IDEX California® Examination.
    • Path 3: This streamlined and cost-saving path is for candidates who have previously passed an approved national design exam. They can become certified after successfully passing the IDEX California® Examination.
    • Path 4: This path is for candidates who wish to obtain a certification with a commercial designation after passing the IDEX California® Examination.
  • Submission method: online.
  • Agency Fee: The fees for certification depend on the chosen path:
    • Paths 1 and 2 have a fee of $700.
    • Paths 3 and 4 have a fee of $600.

Registration Renewal

  • Submission method: online.
  • Agency Fee: The agency fee for certification renewal varies based on the options chosen:
    • $275 for the 2-Year Basic Certification Renewal Fee (Includes ID card only)
    • $300 for the 2-Year Certification Renewal with Digital Stamp Fee (Includes ID Card & Digital Image Stamp)
    • $325 for the 2-Year Certification Renewal with Stamp Fee (Includes ID Card & Rubber Stamp)
    • $350 for the 2-Year Certification Renewal with Both Stamps Fee (Includes ID Card, Digital Image Stamp & Rubber Stamp)
  • Due date: Certification renewal fees are due biennially on the date of issuance.ion was filed between October 1 and December 31, renewal is due every three years by December 31.

California Landscape Architect License

  • Agency: California Landscape Architects Technical Committee
  • Do I Need To Have A Foreign Qualification?: Not Set
  • Is an exam required?: Not Set
  • Registered Agent (Special Agency) Required?: Not Set

Exam Application

Must-have Attachments

  1. Sealed/Official Transcripts: You must submit sealed or official transcripts from a qualifying educational program(s) as part of the application process.
  2. Certification of Experience form Each licensed supervisor who qualifies the candidate’s experience must complete and sign a Certification of Experience Form. The supervisor must hold a current and valid license as a landscape architect, architect, and/or civil engineer.
  3. General Credential Evaluation (if applicable): Foreign-educated applicants need to provide a General Credential Evaluation if applicable. This evaluation helps assess the equivalence of their educational qualifications obtained outside the country.

First-Time Applicants

Reciprocal Registration

How to Apply

  1. Complete the Reciprocity Application: Fill out and submit a completed Reciprocity Application form.
  2. Verification of Scores and License History: In Section 2 of the application, you need to send the form to the state(s) where you are currently licensed or have taken examinations. The licensing agency in those states will verify your scores and license history and forward the completed form to the Landscape Architects Technical Committee office.
  3. California Supplemental Examination (CSE): Take and successfully pass the California Supplemental Examination (CSE). This examination is a requirement for reciprocity.

Registration Renewal

  • Submission method: online.
  • Agency Fee: $400
  • Due date: License renewal is required biennially by the end of the expiration month.
  • Note: Renewal forms will be mailed to license holders approximately 90 days prior to the expiration date. It is important to keep an eye out for these forms to ensure timely renewal of the license.

Non-State Level Architecture Firm Licenses in California

This section aims to clarify licenses that are not required in California for architecture firms.

California Interior Design Firm License

California does not have state-level licensure requirements for interior design firms. There is no current licensing or registration process for interior design businesses in California.

California Landscape Architecture Firm License

Landscape architecture firm licensure is not required at the state level in California. For more information, you can contact the California SCalifornia Landscape Architects Technical Committee.

Register for the Architect Registration Examination

Securing an architect’s license in California opens up a world of opportunities to practice architecture in the state. The journey commences with the pursuit of a professional degree in architecture, a fundamental requirement in your quest to become a licensed architect. This degree is not just a piece of paper, but a testament to your knowledge and comprehension of architectural principles, a rite of passage that equips you with the tools to craft and shape the built environment.

Remember, it’s important that your architecture degree is obtained from a program accredited by a recognized body such as the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). This accreditation assures that the program meets the industry’s standards and provides the necessary skills and training.

Architect registration in California is a crucial step that formalizes your standing in the industry. This process includes satisfying the state’s requirements and passing the relevant examinations. With this license, you will have the legal authority to practice architecture, offering your expertise to develop the California landscape. Now that you are armed with this information, you’re one step closer to realizing your architectural aspirations.

Disclaimer: These requirements are subject to change based on approval board discretion. For the most up-to-date information, please visit the California Architects Board website.

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