Project outcomes

The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA), with funding support from the Australian Government Department of Education and Training, has benchmarked the requirements for architectural registration in Australia with requirements in New Zealand, the United States of America (USA), Canada, Singapore and Hong Kong.

These six jurisdictions were found to have broadly comparable systems of architectural registration. In order for people to use the title ‘architect’, all require:

  • five years of accredited full time university study (or accepted alternative);
  • between two and three years of professional experience;
  • sitting of a professional examination; and
  • registration by a registering body referenced in statute and authorised to undertake disciplinary action in relation to professional conduct.

Details of the Australian architectural context are contained in Architecture in Australia section of this report. A comparison of Australian requirements with the other five jurisdictions is provided in the Comparison and Comparative Analysis sections. Some key variations in approach set out in the Comparison include:

  • Australia is unique in unifying the standards for university study, graduate development and professional examination in a single document (also used by New Zealand). The USA and Canada specify standards for each stage in three documents. Singapore and Hong Kong each publish a single document covering graduate development and professional examination.
  • While most countries have a two part professional examination, consisting of a written exam and oral assessment by peers, the USA only uses a written exam and New Zealand utilises an extended oral assessment in lieu of a written exam.
  • The USA and Canada have structured internship processes intended to support graduates on the path to registration, while Australia and New Zealand use a simpler logbook approach. Hong Kong and Singapore use elements of the internship model.
  • Australia and Canada have alternative tracks to gain eligibility to sit registration exams for those working in architecture who do not have recognised degree qualifications (called the National Program of Assessment in Australia and the Canadian Institute of Architects' Diploma of Architecture in Canada).
  • The USA and Canada run Broadly Experienced Foreign Architect programs that allow overseas registered architects with at least 7 years post-registration experience to submit a dossier showing how their built work meets the standards normally established by examination. New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong may also waive some registration requirements for experienced foreign architects.

In terms of existing arrangements for recognition of overseas qualifications and registration, qualifications are mutually recognised among Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong, and between the USA and Canada, but not across those two groups. Singapore and Hong Kong also accept a number of other overseas qualifications. Mutual recognition of registration applies between Australia and New Zealand and between the USA and Canada. Australia and New Zealand have also ‘fast track’ recognition arrangements with Canada, Singapore and Japan for experienced architects under the APEC Architect program.

Overall, this project has highlighted that there is more that unites than divides the six jurisdictions benchmarked, particularly when compared with that many nations that do not have a process of professional examination for architectural registration. There are significant opportunities for the further development of mutual recognition arrangements among these jurisdictions to support movement of highly skilled workers.