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Architects - Australian Migration Requirements


Architects in Australia provide professional services in connection with the planning and the design, construction, enlargement, conservation, restoration or alteration of a building or group of buildings. These professional services include, but are not limited to, planning, strategic and land-use planning, urban design, provision of preliminary studies, designs, models, drawings, specifications and technical documentation, coordination of technical documentation prepared by others as appropriate and without limitation (consulting engineers, landscape architects and other specialist consultants), construction economics, contract administration, monitoring of construction and project management.

Most architects in Australia are in salaried employment in private firms, government departments or schools of architecture. Some are self-employed.

The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia

The Architects Accreditation Council of Australia (AACA) is a national body made up of representatives of all State and Territory registration boards. The AACA was established to promote common standards for registration of architects, to coordinate and accredit acceptable standards of architectural education in Australia.

AACA is also the relevant assessing  authority in respect of the assessment of overseas qualifications in architecture for those wishing to migrate to Australia.

Recognition procedures in Australia

It is the law in Australia that if you wish to use the title of, and offer services to the public as an architect you must be registered with a State or Territory Architects’ Board.

There are 15 schools of architecture in Australia. The accredited qualifications awarded by these schools satisfy the formal academic requirements for registration by all Australian Architects’ Boards. Most undergraduate architecture courses in Australia require five or six years of full time study (or the part-time equivalent).

The common requirements for registration throughout Australia for all architects, whether trained in Australia or overseas, are that you must have:

  • an approved qualification from an accredited/recognised course in architecture conducted in Australia/overseas; and
  • two years practical experience working in Australia generally under the supervision of an architect. If you have trained overseas, an Architects' Board may vary this depending on the length and type of your overseas experience but you will be required to have at least one year’s experience in Australia; and
  • a pass in the AACA Architectural Practice Examination.

It is essential that all candidates for the Architectural Practice Examination (APE) contact the relevant State or Territory Architects' Board for full details of the requirements for registration and the procedures for the Architectural Practice Examination (APE).

Upon successful completion of the APE you may apply for registration to the Architects’ Board in the State or Territory in which you wish to become registered.

State and Territory legislation requires that an architect must be thoroughly familiar with Australian professional practice. The Boards also require a high degree of knowledge of local conditions of practice; available materials; the various building regulations; contractual practice; and the relationship between the various specialists in the building industry.

You must also be able to communicate effectively in English. You may be asked to produce evidence that you have not been excluded from practice because of unprofessional conduct.

A very small number of people who fall short of the normal academic requirements for registration, but who have had considerable practical experience, may obtain registration by successfully completing the AACA National Program of Assessment. Again, you must also have completed a period of practical experience approved by the relevant State/Territory Architects' Board. After this practical experience, you must pass the AACA Architectural Practice Examination to be eligible for registration.

For registration purposes all overseas academic qualifications in architecture need to be assessed by AACA. However, if you are registered in New Zealand and have a current practising certificate from the New Zealand Architects Education and Registration Board you may apply directly to the State and Territory Architects Boards for registration.

Assessment of academic qualifications gained overseas

The procedures for obtaining an assessment of your overseas academic qualifications are generally undertaken in two stages:

  • stage 1 - a provisional assessment (which can be undertaken while you are overseas). Please note that for migration purposes, only a provisional assessment is required;
  • stage 2 - final assessment, known as the Review of Academic Equivalence (RAE), undertaken after you arrive in Australia if you wish to register as an architect in Australia. You must bring to Australia all the original documents relating to your education qualifications, folio of academic work, character references, employment experience and other materials you consider relevant. You will be required to present this material if you wish to undertake an RAE.

In Australia you can obtain application forms for an RAE assessment of your overseas architectural qualifications from the AACA or from any State or Territory Architects’ Board.

The RAE is based on an interview between you and a panel of architects. The interview is usually held at the office of the Architects’ Board in the State or Territory of Australia in which you are living.

Following the RAE the AACA will advise you that either:

  • your qualifications are recognised as academically equivalent to the standard requirement for registration and you should approach an appropriate State or Territory Architects' Board about the further requirements for registration; or
  • your qualifications do not meet the standard at this point but would meet it if:

(a) you successfully completed a specified upgrading program at a recognised school of architecture in Australia; or

(b) you successfully completed the whole course at a recognised school of architecture in Australia with exemptions that the school might allow; or

(c) you successfully completed the AACA National Program of Assessment.

If your qualifications are recognised you will need practical experience in Australia and to pass the AACA Architectural Practice Examination before you can obtain registration. More information about this is available from any State or Territory Architects’ Board, or the AACA.

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