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The Australian Architectural Sector

The Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) is the peak membership body for
architects in Australia. The core aims of the RAIA are to:

• advance architecture;

• maintain the integrity and standing of the profession;

• promote the profession's views nationally and internationally, and

• encourage the study of architecture.

There are approximately 10,000 registered architects, of which approximately 5,000 are
members of the RAIA.

Architects provide a significant and wide range of services in the building design and
construction sector. The range of services include: building design, building site analysis,
construction project management and feasibility services, planning management, contract
documentation and administration, energy conservation, and town planning.

Architects operate across a wide range of building and construction segments such as in the
provision of residential housing, commercial buildings, industrial facilities, hospitals, schools,
tourist facilities such as hotels and resorts, sporting facilities such as sports centres and
stadia, and in heritage and conservation.

Table 1 illustrates the services offered by a typical Australian architectural firm.

Table 1: Project work undertaken by typical architectural firm

All Firms
Residential (construction value up to $500,000) 11%
Residential (construction value over $500,000) 14%
Alterations and Renovations 7%
Commercial (e.g. offices, shops) 22%
Industrial (e.g. warehouses, storage) 5%
Health (e.g. hospitals, nursing homes) 12%
Education (e.g. schools, universities) 14%
Tourism (e.g. hotels / motels, theme parks) 3%
Heritage / conservation / restoration 4%
Recreation (e.g. sports centres, pools) 2%
Other 6%
Total 100%
Source: RAIA, Architectural Office Profile & Financial Benchmarking Report, 2003

Overview Comparison of the US and Australian Architectural Sectors

The US architectural sector is many times greater than the Australian equivalent.

The conservative estimate of the current annual market size of the Australian architectural
design and related services industry is approximately $800 million (AUD). (Productivity
Commission, 2000). In contrast, the value of the American architectural sector, in 1999
USD terms, was estimated to be approximately $24.4 billion. (American Institute of
Architects, 2000). Based on a nominal comparative, the size of the Australian architectural
sector would represent just 3% of the American sector.

In terms of architects, the number of Australian registered architects only equates to 9% of

US registered architects. Table 2 provides a comparative of registered architects, and ratio
of architects to population for both countries.

Table 2: Architect Population Comparison

COUNTRY Population Architects Population
Australia 19,138,000 10,000 2,015
United States 283,230,000 110,000 2,575
Source: COAC, Architectural Practice Around the World, 2002



Each Australian state and territory operates a statutory certification system regulating the
architectural profession.

An Architects Board operates in each state and territory which oversees the regulation of
architects. To practise as an architect, a person must meet the following three criteria:
1. have a recognised academic qualification in architecture or a pass in the National
Program of Assessment (NPrA), or a pass in the relevant Registration Board
Prescribed Examinations where offered;

2. have a period of training through experience followed by successful completion of

the AACA Architectural Practice Examination (APE); and

3. apply for registration to the Architects' Board in the State or Territory in which
registration is sought. (Architects Accreditation Council of Australia Inc.)

It must also be noted that in line with National Competition Policy provisions, each of the
states and territories is obliged to review the Architects legislation as to how that legislation
might affect competition. Not all states have completed their legislative review or
amendment processes. The main outcome of this review process is that all states and
territories have agreed to follow a timetable for the review of their respective legislation
concerning the provision of architectural services, and the harmonisation of national

United States
Architects in all US States, together with the District of Columbia, and four U.S. territories
(Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands) are required to
be licensed (registered). Each state and territory operates it own independent licensing
regime. Licensing in the US requires:

• a professional degree in architecture;

• a period of practical training or internship; and

• successful completion of the Architect Registration Examination. (US National

Council of Architectural Registration Boards)

The majority of US subnational jurisdictions require that before licensing, a person must
successfully complete a degree from a tertiary program accredited by the National
Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB).

Mutual recognition

At present, mutual recognition of Australian architects applies across all Australian states
and territories, inclusive of New Zealand architects.

In October 1998, the RAIA and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) signed a joint
accord between the two bodies titled the Accord on Professionalism in Architecture. The
Accord was reaffirmed by the two bodies in May 2003, and is effective for five years. A copy
of the Accord is attached.

The Accord makes a number of important resolutions on the maintenance of professional

standards. It sets out a bilateral approach to cooperation and mutual recognition between
the two bodies.

As it applies to the issues raised by the AUSFTA negotiations, the Accord details a number
of joint commitments made by the two bodies:

Article 4 . …. Both professional societies pledge to work together in close cooperation toward
the goal of inter-recognition of standards in education, examination, and registration
in appropriate time and under appropriate conditions, so that the architectural
markets can be opened mutually through bi-lateral negotiations and agreements. It is
also agreed that the basis for licensing the profession should be for protection of the
public health, safety, cultural heritage, and welfare.

Article 5. In order to attain the goal as stated in Article 4 of this Accord, the professional
societies agree to following agenda (sic):
• To develop mutual recognition as accredited providers of continuing education
opportunities and learning units for our respective members.
• The mutual exchange of students, teachers, and professionals, and the
promotion of cooperation in architectural practice between architects of the two
• The mutual exchange of information related to the practice of architecture in
subjects such as international trade in services, national legislation related to
planning, building and environment, zoning and building codes, building
specifications, practice guides and standards, standard forms of contracts,
computer-aided practice, and electronic means of communications and practice.

Regulation & Registration Comparative

In broad terms, both countries operate similar regulatory requirements applying to

architects, reflecting the federal government structure of both countries, and the linking of
educational and professional training requirements for licensing or registration.

The two countries do not operate restrictions on architects practising independently in the
other country, aside from immigrations laws applying to the temporary entry of
professionals which are particularly stringent in the U.S.

Both countries operate similar requirements for registration and practice, as illustrated in
table 3.

Table 3: US & Australian Registration Minimums

Requisites Australia USA
Architectural qualification/proof of equivalent YES
Academic record YES YES
Proof on Internship/experience YES YES
Successful completion of examinations YES
Have title recognised YES
Registration/ licensing YES YES
Source: COAC, Architectural Practice Around the World, 2002

Free Movement of Professionals

As highlighted earlier, the RAIA has a standing policy that Australian immigration policy and
law should not “…restrict freedom of movement into Australia of architects with special skills that
would foster exchanging of ideas and professional experience, thereby benefiting the community and
the profession”.

Given this progressive policy commitment by the RAIA, the RAIA would hope that the
Australian Government would advocate strongly on the issue of open entry of Australian
professionals into the American market to reflect the professional and economic net
benefits being shared by both countries.

A number of other industry associations and membership bodies have suggested duplicating
a provision similar to chapter 16 of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
The RAIA understands that there are particular domestic political concerns in the US with
that provision as it currently operates. However, at face value, the provisions as contained in
NAFTA concerning movement of professionals must be a precondition that should not be
negotiated away or traded for other provisions. The ability of Australian registered
architects to work unrestricted in the US market must be sought.

This provision must also extend to the recognition of registration, educational training and
work experience at the US state and territory level. As registration of architects in the US is
undertaken at the state level, and given that there are 50 states, plus the District of
Columbia and 4 territories, the immediacy of all US jurisdictions meeting the obligations of
the AUSFTA is questionable. Accordingly, the RAIA would like to see the Australian
Government require of the US Federal Government that US states and territories confer
with Australian states and territories and Architecture Boards (through its umbrella body
the Architects Accreditation Council of Australia) about the issues raised in this submission
as it applies to the practice of architecture. It is suggested those issues should be promoting
and streamlining mutual recognition, providing for open entry to architectural markets, and
undertaking the abolition of business barriers applying to the practice of architecture.

1 August 2003