What to do After You Finish Your Exams!

I’ve been waiting months to write this blog post. I’ve been waiting to declare across the world wide web that I have finished my AREs and have been elevated to “Architect” within the AIA, my firm and amongst my friends who never really understood that I wasn’t an architect to begin with. As I started to write this, I realized that it may not actually deserve an entire blog post because there isn’t much to say. I’M DONE!

And then I began the process of actually becoming a licensed architect…

First, if you haven’t finished, the excitement and exhilaration comes with getting your last PASS letter from NCARB. There will be very little that happens after this point that matches this level of excitement. Secondly, the process is a little tedious and challenging once you have finished IDP (now AXP for those following the NCARB world) and your AREs. There are a million blogs, websites and resources to help you get through your exams. There is hardly anyone there to help you once you have finished all of this and actually want to legally call yourself an architect.

Instead of expressing how wonderful I felt after finishing my exams and letting you know how free time actually feels, I thought it might be more helpful to outline the steps one must take after finishing the exams and your experience requirements.

  1. So you get your last PASS. Now what? Sit tight. NCARB will email you shortly after and let you know that you have completed your exams and your experience requirements. They will then conduct an internal review of your NCARB record. In my experience, this took approximately two weeks. After they complete this internal review and determine you are actually eligible to be licensed (there weren’t any errors in your record, you didn’t double track experience hours, you ACTUALLY completed every exam) they will send this record to the state licensing board. Because this is the AIA Colorado EP BlogNCARB Email History, I will explain the process with DORA, Colorado’s Department of Regulatory Agencies.
  2. NCARB will then forward your information to DORA. This is happening behind the scenes. If you watch your NCARB record closely, you will see that it was sent in the lower right hand corner of the main page.
  3. After this is sent to DORA, you wait a little more. After they have made some verification on their end they will send you a form via email that you need to fill out. At this point, you fill out the form (printed, not digital) and take the completed form and $100 to the DORA office.
  4. This next step is one that is not necessary, but I highly suggest. In the email with your form, they will give you information on creating a login on the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations Online Services. This was the only way that I found out that I was actually a licensed Architect. I still have not received an email from DORA notifying me that I am licensed. Once you submit your physical form and the check is cleared, you can watch the process here under the “license information” tab.
  5. After some time and further review of your submitted application, you will officially be a licensed architect with a number and everything! A license number will appear as well as an “Active” status and an expiration date.License Tab
  6. You can stop here. But if you would like to be NCARB certified or update your AIA membership, there are a few more steps you need to take.
  7. Updating your AIA Membership: This is the easier of the two. Go to the AIA website and fill out this form to update your membership category. In a few days, you should be changed to an Architect member instead of an Associate. If you have already paid your dues for the year, you will NOT have to pay more. You will remain in the associate membership fee range.
  8. Getting NCARB Certified: You would think this might be easy since AXP and the AREs are administered out of NCARB. This has taken the longest out of any of the above processes. There is very little information on the website for direction. My first suggestion is to call NCARB and tell them you have been licensed and would also like to be NCARB certified. They will then forward a form to DORA (or your state licensing board if you are not Colorado). DORA will need to fill this form out and return it to NCARB signed. This is the tricky part because you are not actually touching any of the forms. Personally, once DORA filled out this form, it got lost in the mailing process.

While this information might be dry, I haven’t found any guides on how to actually get your license. I hope that if you are going through this or are about to, this will help you figure out how best to achieve the last step in becoming a licensed Architect! As with finishing your exams and experience, you must be proactive in the process. Pick up a phone and call. They will happily answer the questions, but you must be your own advocate!


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