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!

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