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How is a building like the Sydney Opera House constructed to be not only visually appealing, but structurally sound as well? While credit has to go to the entire team of licensed trade professionals, the architect in charge of the project is ultimately the one who ensures everything is done right. Because of the level of expertise required to design a building, the title of “architect” is only granted to persons who have undergone extensive training and received a licence to practise architecture in their state or territory.

The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) is the organisation responsible for recommending standards for the registration of architects throughout Australia, but is not the governing authority. Working in conjunction with the AACA, state governing authorities ensure all aspiring architects in the country are trained to a high standard before they can use the title of architect.

Licensing of Architects

Although registration requirements differ from state to state, some general standards apply throughout Australia. First, an aspiring architect must complete a university degree in architecture – usually a five or six year course of study. At the conclusion of study, they must complete the three-part Architectural Practice Examination (APE). The three parts consist of:

  1. Practical experience working under the supervision of a registered architect.
  2. After a period of practical experience, the prospective architect must pass the National Examination Paper (NEP).
  3. An extensive interview follows successful completion of the NEP.

After these three parts of the APE are completed, a prospective architect can then apply for registration as an architect in their state or territory.

Types of Jobs Undertaken by Architects

Architects undertake a number of types of jobs. Aside from designing buildings ranging in size and complexity from single family homes to high-rises, an architect might be required to design and oversee any project where the structural integrity of a building is an issue, including extensions, alterations and/or conservation projects. An architect is responsible for:

  • Architectural design
  • Project supervision
  • Liaising with other professionals, including engineers, builders and other licensed tradespersons.

Architects - NSW

Architects in New South Wales are governed by the Architects Registration Board. The board’s key function is to protect consumers by:

  • Ensuring all architects are qualified for their professional responsibilities
  • Disciplining architects who have not carried out their responsibilities professionally or competently
  • Accrediting educational facilities to ensure they adhere to standards
  • Keeping a public record of currently registered architects in NSW

In NSW, in addition to completing the required university degree or proving the equivalent level of education from an overseas educational institute, an architect cannot be registered until they have logged at least 3,000 hours of work experience and passed the NEP.

In NSW, architects must renew their registration every year. When registration is renewed, the architect receives a card that is valid for that year only. If an architect does not hold a valid and current registration card, they are not legally entitled to the title of architect and their registration is suspended. Architects from other states in Australia or New Zealand can only legally work in New South Wales if they receive registration in NSW.

Architects - Victoria

The Architects Registration Board of Victoria (ARBV) governs registration of architects in Victoria. The ARBV follows general guidelines for registration as recommended by the AACA, including educational requirements, practical experience and successful completion of the National Examination Paper (NEP). In Victoria, a minimum of two years practical experience is needed before a prospective architect can take the NEP and apply for registration.

There are three types of registration available in Victoria:

  1. An individual can be a registered architect. A registered architect must also hold professional indemnity insurance.
  2. Partnership registration can be obtained if at least one partner is a registered architect covered by professional indemnity insurance
  3. A company can apply for registration as an “architectural” firm if one company director is a registered architect and holds professional indemnity insurance.

In addition, there are three categories of architect in Victoria:

  1. A practising architect is authorised to practise their profession.
  2. A non-practising architect can retain the title of architect, but not practise the profession.
  3. A retired architect retains the title of architect, but cannot work as an architect.

If you hire an architect in Victoria, they must be registered as a practising architect. Architects in Victoria must renew their registration and professional indemnity insurance yearly.

Architects - Queensland

The Board of Architects of Queensland (BOAQ) governs architects in that state. In addition to registering qualified architects, the BOAQ:

  • Advises on the Eligibility Requirements of architects in Queensland;
  • Advises on Standards of Conduct of Queensland architects;
  • Investigates professional conduct of architects in Queensland;
  • Enforcing compliance with the Architects Act 2002; and
  • Conducts Architectural Practice Examinations (APE).

The BOAQ is responsible for issuing initial registration as an architect, annual re-registration of architects and issuing registration to practise architecture in Queensland to qualified architects from other Australian states or New Zealand. The BOAC can also take legal action against any person or company that poses as an architect or architectural firm but is not registered as such in Queensland.

Architects - SA

The Architectural Practice Board of South Australia (APBSA) is responsible for maintaining the register of architects in South Australia. Aside from maintaining the register, responsibilities of the APBSA include:

  • Ensuring only qualified professionals are listed on the register;
  • Ensuring only qualified partnerships and companies that satisfy provisions of the Architectural Practice Act 2009 are registered to practise architecture in SA;
  • Investigation of complaints against registered architects and allegations against individuals, partnerships or companies posing as registered architects;
  • Disciplining registered architects, partnerships and companies when necessary;
  • Accreditation of architectural courses; and
  • Promoting public knowledge about architecture.

In South Australia, three categories of architectural registration exist:

  1. Registered Architects are individuals registered to practise architecture and carry the title of “architect”.
  2. Registered Partnerships are partnerships in which at least one partner is a registered architect.
  3. A Registered Company can practise the profession of “architecture” if at least one company director is a registered architect.

Individuals, partnerships and companies practicing as architects in South Australia must be both registered and insured. Registration is renewed annually and if professional indemnity insurance is not also renewed, the APBSA will deny registration.

Architects – WA

The Architects Board of Western Australia governs the registration of architects and architectural firms in WA. The board reports to the South Australia Minister of Commerce, but is entirely self-funded by practising architects. There are 10 members of the Architects Board: four are elected by registered architects and six are appointed by Minister of Commerce.

Designed to protect consumers and ensure that only qualified architects practise in South Australia, the Architects Board of Western Australia:

  • Issues registration to qualified architects
  • Issues annual re-registration to previously registered architects
  • Handles complaints about architects
  • Investigates complaints of fraudulent use of the title of “architect”

In Western Australia, an aspiring architect must pass a five year course of study at one of two WA universities accredited to teach architecture and receive a Master of Architecture degree. Following that, they must complete at least two years of practical training. Finally, after passing the APE examination, they can apply to practise as a registered architect.

Architects - Tasmania

In Tasmania, the Board of Architects of Tasmania is the statutory authority in charge of registering architects. The Board consists of five members:

  • Two members are appointed by the Governor
  • Two members are practising architects selected by the Australian Institute of Architects
  • One member is the President of the Royal Australian Institute of Architects

The rules governing registration of architects in Tasmania are similar to the rules in other states:

  1. A prospective architect must have a recognised degree in architecture or pass the National Program of Assessment (NPrA).
  2. An aspiring architect must finish a period of practical training and pass the Architectural Practice Examination (APE).

After passing the APE, an applicant can apply to be registered as an architect in Tasmania. Only registered architects can advertise their services as those of an “architect” or “architectural” company in Tasmania.

In addition to maintaining the register of architects, the Board of Architects of Tasmania also investigates consumer complaints about architects and allegations of fraudulent claims. If a person or company claims to be an architect or architectural firm, they must have a valid and current registration card to prove their claim.

Architects – ACT

In the ACT, the Australian Capital Territory Architects Board is in charge of the ACT architects’ register. The Architects Board adheres to guidelines set by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) when prospective architects apply for registration in the ACT. In brief:

  • The applicant must have completed an approved course of study;
  • Have at least two years of practical experience, with at least one year of experience in Australia; and
  • Pass the APE examination.

In the ACT, only individuals are registered to practise architecture. Registration must be renewed yearly and can be conditional if an applicant is insolvent, under investigation or if a complaint has been made against an architect.

Architects - Northern Territory

The statutory authority in charge of registering architects in the Northern Territory is the NT Architects Board. Responsibilities of the Board include:

  • Maintaining the register of architects in the Northern Territory
  • Issuing registrations
  • Re-registration of existing architects
  • Handling complaints under the Northern Territories Architects Act.

In the NT, architects can be registered as individuals or companies. In the case of a company at least one company director must be a registered architect.

In order to be registered as an architect in the Northern Territory, the applicant must have completed all the steps outlined by the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA). After completion of tertiary studies, the applicant must complete two years of practical study and then pass the Architects Practice Exam (APE). After reviewing the application, members of the Architects Board add the applicant’s name to the register and issue registration cards. Registration must be renewed yearly in the NT.

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