What’s the Cost of Becoming an Architect?

The cost of becoming an architect_featured image

When you think of becoming an architect you may just see the hefty price tag of college tuition, exams, licensure and the long road it takes to get there. It’s a long journey and the price can add up, but what does it actually cost to become a licensed architect? The path can be broken down into four main parts: education, experience, examination, and licensure.


The first step, which is the same with most professional practices, to becoming a licensed architect is getting a quality education. Currently, the national average for college tuition per year ranges from $9,970 – $34,740 (depending on whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student). Of course this price can vary greatly depending on housing options, scholarships, and what university you attend. Most architecture programs are 5-year programs so we’ll multiply this out to account for that. $49,850 – $173,700

Staying in-state and applying for scholarships can reduce the price, but it is important to attend a university accredited by NAAB because that gives you the easiest path to licensure no matter what state you’re pursuing licensure in.

Architect graduates


It is possible that you could receive your license as soon as you graduate, but before you can become an architect, you have to document a certain number of hours of experience working in architecture. The AXP outlines how to properly track your hours and how soon you can start. AXP is a program run by NCARB. The initial start-up cost for an NCARB record is $100 and the renewal fee will be $85 every year.


Perhaps the most daunting part of becoming an architect is taking the Architecture Registration Exams (ARE). With six separate exams, study materials, and the hours of time spent studying, the cost of these exams can climb pretty high. The total of all six exams will cost you $1,410 (that’s a minimum which assumes you don’t let any exams to expire and don’t fail any). If you were to buy all of the NCARB recommended study materials you can tack on an extra $3,068.17 (based on current amazon prices). Time to dust off your college textbooks and get studying!

architect drafting


Once you’ve gotten a degree, passed the ARE, and logged your required number of hours (whew!) you can finally apply for an architecture license! There may be additional requirements depending on your jurisdiction, but trust me the hard part is over! The cost to apply for a license varies based on your jurisdiction, but you can expect to pay an additional $25 – $85 in processing fees. There’s also a $385 transmittal fee from NCARB for sending your NCARB registration to the appropriate jurisdiction.

Total Cost of Becoming an Architect

That was a lot of numbers. So how much is all of this actually going to cost? Here’s the breakdown:

5-year B.Arch Degree: $49,850 (in-state public) – $173,700 (out-of-state private)
NCARB application fee: $100
NCARB renewal Fee: $85
Recommended NCARB ARE Study Materials: $3,068.17
ARE exams: $1,410
License Application: $25-$85
NCARB Record Transmittal Fee: $385

Total: $54,923.17 – $178,773.17

Yikes! That total can seem pretty pricey, but, if you’ve already taken on the cost of schooling (which accounts for over 90% of these costs) it’s silly to not pursue your license.

The cost of getting a license can be well worth the investment. Some firms will cover the cost of getting a license because it’s beneficial for them to have licensed architects on their team. Talk to your HR department to see if they offer any aid. If not, maybe you can help get something started! Our ARE practice exams are also a great affordable way to study for the ARE. Each of our practice exams gives a content category score at the end so you can strategically purchase the NCARB recommended resources you need.

Lastly, it’s good to keep in mind that licensed architects practicing in the US make an average of $106,588 while unlicensed architecture positions only pay an average of $54,501. Acquiring your license can nearly double your salary.

cost of architect breakdown

The process of becoming an architect can seem daunting and expensive, but every career path is an investment. If you choose to get your license, you will earn back the money you initially invested and you will open up the door to career opportunities you may not have had before- not to mention you get a cool rubber stamp with your name on it!

Ready to take the next step in becoming and architect? Check out our list of resources to help you get started here!


  1. allstarcarpetandtiles June 24, 2019 at 10:31 am #

    Great tips. I’m bookmarking this page. Its a great resource to keep. Thanks for sharing.

  2. hamzakhan17826 May 19, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Ok sure, I will follow your steps before going to do exams. I hope your article will help me more.

  3. karlmistos May 14, 2019 at 10:41 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ll definitely share this with my classmates at de la salle zobel.

  4. classboat01 October 17, 2018 at 7:37 am #

    Hello there and thanks for your information, I have certainly picked up allot new info from right your post. You are also provided information about best tips for exam,Which is very helpful to me and other people also.

  5. mikemoreno September 5, 2018 at 3:48 am #

    thank you very much, verry helpfull…

  6. jogesh12345 August 14, 2018 at 1:55 am #

    Very effective and informative article.Thanks for sharing such an important tutorial.

  7. FLMIMA August 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm #

    Really helpful website

  8. Rumi July 15, 2018 at 7:16 am #

    I feel very grateful that I read this. It is very helpful and very informative and I really learned a lot from it.

  9. RJennings April 28, 2018 at 6:12 pm #

    Thank you for this website. The practice questions are helpful.

  10. Scott March 22, 2018 at 1:50 pm #

    Taking this test on Saturday. Last 4.0 exam to complete for the trio, then on to 5.0. This site is my go-to place when organizing what materials I’ll be studying

  11. shozab January 30, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    Hi , very good article.

    thanks for sharing, keep up the good work

  12. dyba January 27, 2018 at 1:08 am #

    Good advice. Best of luck to all!

  13. KendraShirley January 16, 2018 at 4:04 pm #

    This is my favorite site for practicing for my tests! Great advise and super helpful.

  14. reximagetrim January 16, 2018 at 10:37 am #

    Nice post to read. A complete guide that can help all of us.

  15. tylerstockholm December 17, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Nice one… very helpful! Thanks!!!

  16. Aartiwalvekar November 21, 2017 at 8:56 am #

    Nice post

  17. Aartiwalvekar October 9, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    Great post!

  18. Tony August 30, 2017 at 7:07 am #

    In the NCARB ARE 5.0 handbook they reference Fundamentals of Building Construction: Materials and Methods in both of their example questions for cost estimating. Unfortunately there isn’t a specific chapter on cost estimating, it’s woven throughout the content.

  19. Spencer August 30, 2017 at 1:15 am #

    What is the best reference for cost estimating for PDD.

  20. Amy July 26, 2017 at 3:24 pm #

    Thanks! Great advice

  21. Tony June 29, 2017 at 7:23 am #

    Deciduous trees should only be used for shade (especially in temperate climates). Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall and will have little protection against wind in the winter when it is most needed. Likewise, the leafless trees allow solar heat gain in the winter when it is desired, and shade in the summer.

    Coniferous trees are only to be used to block wind and views. Since they don’t lose their needles, they work great for these two items year-round.

  22. Shahid Logan June 28, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

    Hello. My name is Shahid. This comment is for anyone who would like to reply. On the Siteplanning test. To block the wind, can you use a Deciduous tree or must you use a Coniferous tree?

  23. Mike January 4, 2017 at 11:04 am #

    Hi Tony,

    I need to take 5.0 PPD & PDD. Do you plan on posting notes such as “Caroline’s Notes” that you had posted for the various 4.0 exams for either of those sections? I found those notes to be some of the best resources in studying for the 4.0 sections. If so any idea when? Thanks

  24. Stephen October 17, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    Hi Tony,
    Any updates on the SS exam ? If there’s an expected release date ? Thanks

  25. DesignerHacks October 4, 2016 at 12:11 pm #


    We are releasing practice exams for the SS exam later this fall.


  26. Paige October 4, 2016 at 11:34 am #

    Will you have SS questions on here at some point?

  27. Daniel September 9, 2016 at 8:47 am #

    Great post, very helpful with the lists of suggested materials, I just passed CDs in July and am taking PPP in November so I definitely needed the list.

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