The California Architects Board issues licenses to California architects. Requirements for a CA architecture license include education, work experience, an internship, and two different architect exams.
First, there is no one way to guarantee issuance of a California architect license. Although there are certain enumerated steps to get a license, individuals with different but similar education and experience can write to the California Architects Board and see if their own background is sufficient for getting a CA license for architecture work.
The main requirements that the Board is looking for to get a license include a combination of education and work experience. The Board likes to require 8 total years of education or work experience after high school. For example, if someone has an architecture degree at the bachelor’s level and 4 years of work experience while supervised by a licensed architect, that may be enough to get a license.
There is, however, a minimum amount of work experience. That is one year of supervised work under a U.S. licensed architect or 2 years under a licensed Canadian architect. In other words, you cannot simply go to college for 8 years and then claim you are qualified for a California architect license. Some experience in the field is generally required without getting approved for an alternative licensing route by the California Architects Board.
California uses two internship programs that are generally required for licensing. There is an Intern Development Program (IDP) and Comprehensive Intern Development Program (CIDP).
The IDP program is administered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). The Intern Development Program requires 5600 hours of internship instruction/experience. According to the NCARB website, it is updating the IDP to IDP 2.0. Check with the Council for updates on this architecture internship program and requirements.
The CIDP is the California-based intern requirement for architect license applicants. It is an extension of the NCARB’s program and can be completed at the same time. The main goal of the CIDP is to ensure that activities completed by the intern are as comprehensive as possible to ensure a more complete education and set of work experiences. View the link below for more details on the California Architects Board Comprehensive Intern Development Program.
All CA architect license applicants must take the national Architect Registration Examination. This is administered by the aforementioned National Council of Architectural Registration Boards. The requirements to take the test are less than the requirements for a California license. So you can register and take the test after beginning your Intern Development Program but before fully qualifying with the 8 years of education or experience required by California. Refer to the NCARB link below for more information on the Architect Registration Exam.
The last major requirement is to take the California Supplemental Examination. This is unique to California and deals specifically with architecture work in this state. The California Architects Board has some preparation tips for this exam. See the link below to learn how to prepare for this California architect exam.
NCABR: Architect Intern Development Program Details
California Architects Board: Comprehensive Intern Development Program
NCARB: Architect Registration Exam
California Architects Board: California Supplemental Exam Preparation Tips