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Becoming A Licensed Architect in Barbados

Written By Lisa Clarke, BA(Hons), MArch, BIA Associate

Images Supplied By Lisa Clarke

The Architects Registration Act states that the 'practice of architecture' means rendering one or more of the following professional services to clients - advice, consultation, evaluation, planning, design and minor engineering services, inspection of construction and other services where expert knowledge, skill and experience are required in connection with the erection, enlargement or alteration of any building or buildings, or the equipment or accessories thereof or with the creation of the building environment where public amenity is concerned or involved. 


The journey to becoming a licensed architect is an intellectually vigorous and creative challenge spanning ten or more years of study and apprenticeship. Earning the title “architect” in Barbados is a tremendous feat that should be held in high esteem. 


Candidates desirous of becoming architects in Barbados typically have varied backgrounds in both education and work experience. To achieve a homogeneous environment for the architectural profession a minimum standard for architects’ registration has been established. This article paints a realistic picture of the requirements for becoming a licensed architect in Barbados.   




Potential candidates must complete a Professional Degree/Diploma in Architecture satisfactory to the A.R.B. (Architects Registration Board) requirements. Aspiring architects learn about design, drawing, 3-D modelling, problem-solving, and mathematical skills relevant to the profession. Most importantly, candidates learn the significance of communicating their design ideas effectively, allowing their creative concepts to transfer onto paper and ultimately, into the real world. This skill is achieved through numerous in-person exam presentations amongst peers, where guest critics are often invited to contribute to the conversation. Design communication is arguably the most important lesson to learn: with every design brief, there are environmental, budgetary and material limitations that prepare candidates for future clients in the real world.  


The length of time required to graduate from these programs is specific to the country of education and the type of degree. Candidates can choose to complete the 3-year Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) program with one-year internship; followed by a 2-year Master of Architecture (M.Arch) Program and a minimum 3-year internship. Another option is the direct education route, where the Bachelor and Master degrees are combined into a 5-year program with an internship period following immediately afterwards. Barbados does not offer the required Bachelor or Master of Architecture programs necessary for architectural registration; candidates are required to travel overseas to complete these degrees.  


Internship Explained 


Candidates are expected to complete the internship program under the guidance of an architect(s) who is registered to practice in Barbados. It is expected that candidates learn the practical side of the profession; initially, the creative ‘freedom’ obtained during the architectural educational component differs quite significantly from your day-to-day architectural office responsibilities, but the knowledge and experience gained are transferrable. 


The minimum period allotted for candidates to acquire the required practical experience is three years, and must be documented in the BIA Practical Training Log Book. This is available for download via the BIA website’s “Members Lounge” portal or directly from the A.R.B. It is strongly advised that candidates review the “Intern Architect” section of the BIA website to better understand the restrictions and guidelines for the internship program. If the candidate is conducting the internship overseas and intends to obtain foreign accreditation, different rules apply. Candidates can review the “International Verification” section of the BIA website for more information.  


Sitting the B.A.R.E. 


Once a candidate has fulfilled the required education and internship requirements, they need to apply to take the Barbados Architects Registration Examination (B.A.R.E.). The examination is scheduled in March and September each year. Candidates should refer to the A.R.B and/or the B.A.R.E. section of the BIA website to learn more about the A.R.B. exams and the supporting documents required to accompany these applications.  


Part I of the B.A.R.E. consists of five categories: preliminary design, structures, building systems, building services and contracts. Containing 50 questions each, this totals 250 questions completed in one exam sitting. Part II of the B.A.R.E. includes a project presentation made by the candidate to the A.R.B., and Part III is an interview exam conducted by the A.R.B. Candidates must pass all of Part I in order to complete Parts II and III; passing Part I itself can take a year. Candidates can expect the full A.R.B. examination process to take approximately 2 years.  


Foreign Accreditation  


If an architect is registered in another country whose requirements for registration are, in the opinion of the Board, no less exacting than those required for registration in Barbados, consideration for exemption from the B.A.R.E. is given. Candidates can review the international accreditation section of the BIA website for more information. 


This highly regulated and lengthy licensing process focuses on protecting the influence architects have on the built environment and local human condition. By certifying aspiring candidates who demonstrate the competence, knowledge and understanding of effective design and construction standards, the B.A.R.E. ensures the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Past, present and future Barbadian Architects who have, and continue to commit to this vigorous and rewarding process, can be held to a higher standard; the future development of Barbados depends on it.  


Interested in becoming a licensed architect in Barbados? Visit the BIA website at to learn more.  

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