HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO BECOME AN ARCHITECT?
Whether you are looking to pursue a career in architecture or just trying to better understand the industry, we think it’s important to understand the financial effort that goes into becoming a licensed architect. This blog breaks down the cost of each step of becoming an architect in the US and suggests additional fees that aren’t always accounted for.
The cost of becoming an architect ranges based on where you study so we’ll use some tuition averages. In the 2021 - 2022 academic year, the average tuition cost for a Bachelor of Architecture degree was $32,320 per year. Therefore, we are going to assume that a typical 5-year undergraduate program costs an average of $161,600.
As an architect, you aren’t required to pursue a Masters degree, but because many do, we will include this in our calculation. Master of Architecture programs average $29,078 a year and range from 1-3 years so we will account for a total of $58,156 for a 2-year graduate program.
While in school, architecture students are required to purchase a laptop, software, books and drawings and modeling materials. This number can range greatly so we aren’t going to include it in our final calculation, but we thought it was important to mention.
In addition to a degree, aspiring architects are required to complete 3,740 hours across six knowledge sectors. This is typically done through internships while in school and/or the first few years working in the industry. These hours are logged through NCARB’s Architectural Experience Program (AXP). The registration fee to join AXP is $100 and the yearly renewal fee is $85. While it only takes about 2 years to complete the required hours, we are going to assume that it will take a minimum of 3 years to be ready to take the architecture exams. Therefore, an aspiring architect would need to track their hours through AXP for 3 years totaling $255.
While the only registration required is the AXP, there are many other organizations that aspiring architects choose to join for various reasons including networking, continuing education and volunteering. Someone might join the Architects Institute of America for an annual fee of $160 for access to networking and other architecture-related events while someone else might join the U.S. Green Building Council for an annual fee
of $129 in order to gain access to sustainability-related events. Or, someone might join both plus some other organizations! As you can see, they all range in price and joining depends on an individual's interests so we won't include these membership fees in our total cost.
Once an aspiring architect is ready to take their exams, they must apply for eligibility. In California, the fee to do so is $100. Once they are approved, they can start taking the exams.
There are 6 total Architect Registration Examinations (AREs). Each exam costs $235, however, most people fail at least 2 of the exams so we are going to account for 6 exams and 2 failed exams in our total calculation of $1,880.
After taking the AREs, aspiring architects in California must take the California Supplement Exam (CSE). The cost of this exam is $100. Once the exam is passed, there is an initial license fee of $300.
While there are many free resources to assist in studying, many people purchase study materials like books and/or subscriptions to online study classes. These resources range in price and the need varies per individual so we are not including this in our subtotal.
Considering education, experience and exams, the total cost of becoming an architect is just over $222,000. The table below summarizes all the costs included in the path to licensure. However, once an architect becomes licensed, there are other costs associated with maintaining a license including the yearly $225 renewal fee as well as the transfer fees to become licensed in other states.
Bachelor of Architecture Degree
based on the average tuition
Masters of Architecture Degree
based on the average tuition
Architectural Experience Program (AXP) Registration
one time fee
Architectural Experience Program (AXP) Yearly Renewal
yearly fee: $85 x 3 years
California Architects Board - Application for Eligibility Evaluation
one time fee
Architect Registration Examinations (AREs)
($235 x 6 exams) + ($235 x 2 failed exams)
California Supplemental Exam (CSE)
$100 x 1 exam
California Architects Board - Initial License Fee
fee due immediately after passing CSE
SOURCES / ADDITIONAL RESOURCES