Have you ever wondered what it takes to become a licensed architect? What kind of schooling is required? Read on to find out when our team became interested in Architecture and Design and the path to obtaining an Architecture license.

Kevin Stewart, Architect, AIA


For me, it began with aptitude testing that highlighted interest in the arts and math/sciences.  I loved geometry, spatial problems, and those 3-D puzzles where you take a cube and have to begin to cut blocks out of it and visualize it from different viewpoints.  Architecture didn’t emerge for me as a forerunner in career path choices until a history paper Junior year, where I researched New Orleans architecture.  Studying the effect of culture on design, I was hooked!

Chris Leger, Designer


As a child, around five years old, I was spending my days drawing houses and buildings that I would see while riding around in the back seat of my parent’s car.  I would read drawing tutorial books and entered any art contest I possibly could throughout my school years. I was always told that architecture would be a great career path for me growing up, but that all took a back seat to my passion for baseball, especially during high school.  It wasn’t until after hanging up the cleats playing college baseball that I decided to enroll in architecture school and pursue my second passion.


Any path to an architecture license requires an accredited degree from an accredited college (by NAAB).  Historically a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture degree was needed.  In the past two decades, many schools have converted to a 4-year Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies with a 2-year Master of Architecture.  We encourage prospective architecture students to research the school of their choice – both in-state and out. 

Internship (AXP) & Examinations (ARE)

The next two portions of the licensure path can be accomplished concurrently and include roughly a 3-year internship under a licensed architect and a comprehensive 6-division examination.  We would encourage an internship in whichever branch of design you’d like to concentrate in.  If historical preservation interests you, find the best firm around to submit your resume.  Our internships, with Abell + Crozier Architects (Kevin) and Trapolin Peer Architects (Chris), provided invaluable experience in project management and the every-day duties of an architect (this is NOT something you learn in school).  The multi-division exam can be scheduled at the examinee’s discretion (in as few as three days, but not to exceed five years). 

Practice & Continuing Education

Boards in each state issue architecture licenses, so the requirements could differ slightly.  But in general, most states require the above steps before awarding a license to practice architecture.  In the state of Louisiana, architects must practice within a licensed architectural firm.  These can be large or small, teamed up with construction professionals or not.  We have found great joy at Manuel Commercial, which does both architecture and construction.  Not only do we get to witness our designs come to life, but we get to work in a very collaborative environment and learn from the guy in the field swinging the hammer.  Another critical factor is staying sharp with learning opportunities!  Our state board in Louisiana requires 12 hours of continuing education annually. 


It’s a lot of work to get through architecture school, internship, and examination.  The payoff for us isn’t the salary, there are many more profitable career paths, but the ability to envision something that doesn’t exist yet and facilitate its creation into the built environment. When our clients daily lives and businesses are positively affected by the spaces we design, that’s the reward!

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