NCARB to Discontinue Use of the Term Intern

Controversy has surrounded the use of the term intern for graduates with degrees in architecture but who have not completed the architectural licensing exams. Last year, the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) formed the Future Title Task Force to address the use of the terms intern and architect.

The task force, chaired by past NCARB president Blake Dunn, AIA, NCARB, recommended that NCARB’s role is to protect the public’s health, safety, and welfare, and it should restrict its regulation to the title architect. Any title held by those pursing licensure—intern, intern architect, or any other title—does not need to be regulated by NCARB. The task force did not suggest another potential title.

The NCARB board of directors unanimously voted to accept the task force report, and NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong will lead the development of a sunset plan for the term. Input will be welcomed from NCARB member committees, and the board will rename what is now called the Intern Development Program Guidelines and make formal changes to the NCARB Model Law, which currently proposes the use of the title intern architect. These changes could lead to consideration by the 54 U.S. licensing boards to remove intern from existing rules and regulations.

NCARB leadership made the announcement at the American Institute of Architects  (AIA) National Convention in Atlanta:

“Architects are those who have met all the requirements to become licensed in states and jurisdictions throughout the United States,” said NCARB President Dale McKinney, FAIA, NCARB. “Everyone else is not an architect. But their status also doesn’t need a regulatory title such as ‘intern’ or any similar reference. This has become a term that has been perceived as negative by many in the architecture community and a term that really does not fully value the work that aspiring architects bring to the profession.”

“We are directing our marketing and communications team to use new nomenclature in describing our programs and customers that avoids the use of the term intern going forward,” said NCARB CEO Michael Armstrong. “As an example, someone registered for the exam is an ARE candidate. A person recording experience hours is a Record holder. The team has already been experimenting with alternative descriptors via our social media tools.”