How to Go Into Residential Architecture

Aspiring residential architect works on a blueprint

Residential architecture is a highly rewarding field (though admittedly, we may be a bit biased on that front). And unsurprisingly, becoming a licensed residential architect requires years of field-specific education, hard work, and a laundry list of licensure requirements. So if you’ve ever wondered how to go into residential architecture, we’ve laid out the abridged version below.


Professional residential architects must earn a bachelor’s degree in architecture (B.Arch) or a master’s degree in architecture (M.Arch) from a college accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board. It is possible to earn an architecture degree from a school not accredited by the NAAB, though it is recommended (and often mandated by state licensure requirements) that these students pursue a M.Arch from an accredited institution. Master’s degrees can be earned in one to five years depending on previous coursework. A student with a B.Arch can likely complete the M.Arch requirements in a year whereas a student with a degree in an unrelated field can expect it to take closer to five.


Once you’ve earned your degree, most state licensure programs require that aspiring architects complete an internship approved by the Intern Development Program. Internships can be completed with an architecture firm or business and typically take around three years to complete. The Internship Development Program has a detailed list of training experiences one must complete over that timeframe.

Licensure Info

All practicing architects in the United States must be licensed by their respective state or jurisdiction. However, requirements to obtain licensure vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Generally, licensure requires the applicant to have earned a degree from an NAAB-accredited institution, complete the required internship hours, and pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).  Certain jurisdictions may require additional licensure requirements, so you’ll want to look into the specifics set forth by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB).


Once licensed, the next step is to apply for work within an architecture firm or begin a private practice. As you gain experience and build your resume, you may want to consider pursuing national certification by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board. Though not required in any jurisdiction, you may find this achievement opens even more doors for your professional journey.


We hope we haven’t oversimplified this process, because make no mistake, earning your license and entering the professional realm of residential architecture is not going to be easy. And while the journey is long and tedious at times, the end goal is truly rewarding (but again, we’re biased). We’ve worked with a number of interns and aspiring architects in our time and we even have an architecture scholarship named in our founder’s memory for a deserving student. At Mitchell Wall Architecture and Design, we are happy and honored to help the next generation of residential architects however we’re able.

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