National Standard of Competency for Architects

Having one Standard that underpins accreditation of architecture education and assessment programs provides a clear roadmap for the development of competency on the path to registration as an architect.

The National Standard of Competency for Architects describes what is reasonably expected of a person who can demonstrate the standard of skill, care and diligence widely accepted in Australia as a competent professional Architectural practitioner.

It sets out functions important to the profession of architecture, rather than simply measuring knowledge in isolation from skills, or time spent in formal education. The Standard is not a form of assessment in itself but a framework to be used by those authorised to assess the professional standards of Architects.

The Standard is used in the processes that lead to the registration of Architects including the — Architecture Program Accreditation Procedure in Australia and New Zealand Architecture, Overseas Qualifications Assessment, National Program of Recognition, the  Architectural Practice Examination and  Experienced Practitioner Assessment.  


The activities involved in the practice of architecture are broadly categorised by the National Standard of Competency for Architects into four units.

Design – an activity involving iterative explorations and appraisals of a range of ideas and concepts, leading towards the development of coherent proposals for a project.

Documentation – the process of resolving, detailing and communicating an architectural project through all project stages.

Project Delivery – the proficient, timely and cost-effective completion of an architectural project through all design and construction phases.

Practice Management – the holistic understanding and organisation of the business and profession of architecture in relation to delivering projects.

Nine elements represent a set of discrete aspects of architectural practice, all of which are integral to the conception, delivery and management of architectural projects as well as to the wider creative and professional endeavours of Architects. The naming and ordering of the elements does not presuppose a particular mode of practice, nor a particular sequence in which the aspects (in part or as a whole) occur.  

The 9 elements of practice are supported by 70 performance criteria; and underpinning all performance criteria are the 5 Knowledge Domains constituting the broad base of understanding that underpins the complex profession of architecture.

The Knowledge Domains include:

Regulatory Domain: Knowledge of the regulations, standards and codes, relevant to all aspects of architectural practice, project design and delivery.

Social & Ethical Domain: Knowledge of the social, ethical and cultural values relevant to architectural practice and the impacts on project users and broader communities.

Sustainable Environment Domain: Understanding the responsibility of architects to minimise the impact on natural resources and design for longevity.

Disciplinary Domain: Knowledge of histories and theories relevant to architecture, practice, building and technologies.

Communication Domain: Knowledge of appropriate verbal, written and visual means to communicate relevant aspects of architecture.

More information:

The National Standard of Competency for Architects

Briefing: National Standard of Competency 

AACA assessment programs mapped against the National Standard of Competency for Architects 

AACA’s CEO talks about the National Standard of Competency for Architects 

Setting the Standard: the National Standard of Competency for Architects – first in the Salon Series presented by UTS School of Architecture and the  NSW Architects Registration Board discussing the standards and regulation that shape the profession of architecture in Australia.

2020 Review of the National Standard of Competency for Architects



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