Years of hard work have led up to this point. But what do you do once the exam is finally over? Here we share a few tips and tricks for what to do after passing your last exam and how to prepare for professional life.
Pursuing New Architecture Goals and Opportunities
After years of preparation, you’ve finished the last division of the ARE. You’ve waited the grueling 4-6 weeks to receive your scores. And finally, that long awaited email pops up in your inbox. Once you work up the courage to open it, you see the 4-letter word you’ve been waiting for: PASS. And that’s it. You’re done. Years of studying and test-taking and now you can finally put the ARE behind you. But what do you do once the exam is finally over?
What Happens After Passing the ARE 5.0 Exam?
Now you have to get your initial architecture license. By now, you should already be very familiar with your jurisdiction’s requirements for licensure—but if not, review those ASAP to make sure you’ve met them all.
How do you get an architecture license?
Once you've confirmed that you met all your jurisdiction's requirements for licensure, it's time actually apply for your license. Each jurisdiction has slightly different requirements and processes for distributing licenses, so use the interactive map on NCARB's website to check them all of your list and actually submit the application for licensure to your jurisdiction's board.
To go through this process, you'll also want to make sure that your NCARB record is up to date with all your pass information, so that NCARB can transmit your record to your state jurisdiction.
And that's it! Once you submit your application for licensure, it can take some time for your paperwork to process depending on your jurisdiction.
Optional next step: NCARB certification
Once you have your license you're a fully fledged architect, so you can stop your education here if you want. But if you want to give yourself a bit of a leg-up, you can consider getting NCARB-certified. This professional certification makes it easier for you to apply for licensure reciprocity in other states, and also gives you access to free continuing education courses to help you keep your license once you've got it.
Aside from these practical benefits, an NCARB certification also makes your resume stand out as you're applying for jobs, and also gives you early access to leadership and volunteer opportunities within the community that can help you grow in your career.
The process to get your NCARB certification is actually pretty easy, as most of the requirements are the same as what's required for the ARE, so you probably already meet them. You have to hold a degree from an accredited program, have completed your AXP hours, have passed the ARE, and have your registration in hand from your licensing board.
Once NCARB has proof of registration from your board, they'll evaluate your record for up to 30 days. Once that's complete, you'll get an email confirming that you meet the requirements for certification and your certification number—and that's it!
There are some fees associated with applying for and then maintaining your certification, so you'll have to evaluate if that is doable or worth it for you. But considering the fact that you've already completed the requirements for certification just by virtue of getting your license, the NCARB certification is a relatively easy way to differentiate yourself and give your post-license career a little boost.
Your Future as a Licensed Architect
Okay, so now you're a licensed architect. If you already have a job in architecture, set up time with your manager to see how your new license may impact your role, responsibilities, or salary. You can probably get a pretty substantial salary bump after getting your license at your current firm, and if that doesn't seem like it's in the cards, you can consider leveraging your new license to get a new job that pays commensurate with your experience.
But first, take a moment to drink in your accomplishment. After the whirlwind of studying and taking all the ARE exams, make sure to take a beat and breathe it all in. You did an amazing thing! Before jumping right into your next job, design endeavor, or professional networking event, take a moment to recognize your hard work.