How to Become Licensed
to Practice Architecture
in Illinois

  1. You are eligible to begin the national architectural "Architectural Experience Program" or AXP (formerly known as the "IDP") as soon as you earn a high school diploma. This is your first step to becoming an architect.

  2. Fill out the application for your NCARB Record online and submit to the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) with your credit card payment of $100.00. This covers the first year. After the first year of enrollment, there is an annual fee of $85.00 per year until you are licensed in one state.

  4. Start working for an architect or for employers in related fields and keep track of the number of hours you spend working in the six Practice Areas listed in the AXP Guidelines. Your current employer now becomes your AXP "Supervisor" under AXP Guidelines and the Illinois Architecture Practice Act/Rules. Note that in addition to working for an architect, you can also get eligible training by working for a building contractor, an engineer, an interior designer, a landscape architect, an acoustical consultant or an urban planner.

  6. Complete the NAAB-accredited B.Arch., M.Arch., or D.Arch. Degree in Architecture.

  7. Pass all seven divisions of the Architectural Registration Examination within a five year time period.

  8. Complete 3,740 "Experience Hours." Record your experience on your online NCARB Record and submit it to NCARB. NCARB will check it and submit it to your employer for their electronic signature and verification. You must submit your experience on your NCARB Record to NCARB no more than eight months after the experience to record all the training hours at full value. Experience more than eight months ago and less than five years after the experience will count as half value. Any experience older than five years will not count toward your internship.

  9. Apply for your license to practice architecture in Illinois. Note that this must be done within one year after passing the ARE exam or completion of the AXP, whichever comes later.

    • You will need to fill out the application form posted on the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation web site at: .
    • This form is confusing because it is intended for first time applicants (you) as well as applicants who are licensed in another state and who are now applying for licensure in Illinois and those who are trying to renew because they let their license expire (don't so that). The only pages in this form that you have to complete are page 10, titled at the top "Application for Licensure and/or Examination," and pages 11 and 13.
    • Mail or UPS the completed and signed form to Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Division of Professional Regulation, 320 West Washington Street, 3rd Floor, Springfield, IL 62786 along with the following:

      A $100.00 fee in the form of a certified check or money order made payable to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

      Prepare and sign an "affidavit" on your own letterhead stating that you have read and understand the Illinois Architecture Practice Act and Administrative Rules.

      You do not need to complete the "Verification of Employment / Experience" (VE-ARC - pages 14 and 15 of the form) portion of the application for licensure since you have already completed your NCARB Record.

      Call NCARB and have them send your NCARB Record to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.


    Once you are licensed in Illinois, you should do the following:

      Apply for and receive NCARB Certification -- this will greatly facilitate licensure in other states and in Canada

      Begin earning minimum of 24 "Contact Hours" of continuing education every two years as a requirement for maintaining your Illinois license.

These are people who can help you:

State Architect Licensing Advisor Sean Gallagher, AIA     (630) 845-9981

Educator Architect Licensing Advisors:

IIT: Professor Thomas Brock (312) 505-9700
SIUC: Professor Norm Lach, AIA (618) 453-1128
School of the Art Institute: Lecturer Eric Davis, AIA (312) 629-6650
Assistant Professor Judith De Jong, RA (312) 996-3335
UIUC: Professor Lee Waldrep, Ph.D. (217) 333-7720
A book by Lee Waldrep, Becoming an Architect, offers insight into the process of learning and achieving licensure in the profession of architecture. Using the three "E"s, Education, Experience, and Examination, the book presents a detailed outline of obtaining a degree in architecture, the Experience requirements, and the comprehensive national Architect Registration Examination. In addition, the book helps the reader answer the question -- do you want to be an architect? – Scattered throughout the text are career profiles of individuals within the profession revealing the many career directions possible in the architectural profession. Go to for more info.

For the AXP requirements in Illinois and other valuable information, click here