7059 Blair RD, St. 400
Washington, DC 20012

Become Certified

NCBDC CPBD Candidate Handbook


  • Introduction
  • About the Council
  • Board of Examiners
  • Code of Ethics and Conduct
  • The Certification Process
  • Construction Drawing Standard
  • The Certification Examination
  • The Exam Section Descriptions & Sample Questions
  • Sample Questions Answer Key
  • Applications

Applicants must complete an application and submit it to the NCBDC Evaluation Committee. Submittals are processed and reviewed as they are received. Evaluations are completed by a team of three NCBDC Examiners all reviewing independently. Please allow four to six weeks for the review process to be completed and the results reported.

Applications may be obtained by downloading the CPBD Candidate Handbook.

Exams, Fees and Duration:
Application fees are $50. Fees are non refundable. Once approved, the Applicant is listed on the NCBDC roster as a Candidate. Candidates may begin the exam process at any time. Candidates have 36 months from the date of approval to start the examination process. Once the first exam is taken, all Candidates have 36 months from the date of the first exam to successfully complete all ten exams.

Current exam list (length of the exam, minimum passing score):

  • Architectural History (55 minutes, 70%)
  • Building Codes (60 minutes, 70%)
  • Building Materials (50 minutes, 70%)
  • Building Systems (50 minutes, 70%)
  • Business Administration (45 minutes, 70%)
  • Construction Specifications (45 minutes, 70%)
  • Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (75 minutes, 70%)
  • Structural Design (120 minutes, 70%)

The fee for registering for all ten exams is $400 and they all must be taken online via a GoToMeeting hosted by an NCBDC examiner. Any exams not passed may be retaken individually for $40 per exam. Arrangements must be made by contacting the NCBDC staff. Retake forms are found in the CPBD Candidate Handbook or may be obtained by contacting the NCBDC staff.

Fees may be paid by check or credit/debit card (VISA, MC, Discover, American Express).

Using the application and supporting documents, applicants must display at least six years of engagement in the professional practice of building design (minimum 20 hours per week).

Educational Alternative:
One year of education from a college, university or technical institute is equivalent to one year of experience. A maximum of three years of education may be substituted for experience.

Supporting Materials:
In addition to the application, the following items must be submitted.

  • One set of working drawings for three separate projects. Applicants should review the Construction Drawing Standard section of the CPBD Candidate Handbook.
  • Three letters of verification. Letters may be from other design professionals, builders, building officials, clients, etc. The letters are intended to be used to verify an applicant’s number of years of experience.

Download a letter template: http://www.cpbd.info/letter.pdf

  • Applicants whose application includes years employed by a company or firm must submit a letter from their employer (or former employer) verifying the length of the employment. An employment letter is considered a letter of verification.
  • Applicants applying for reciprocity must submit proof of an active U.S. architectural or engineering license or registration.

How to Submit

Digital documents and materials are preferred and may be submitted using our Drop Box. Once received, the NCBDC staff will contact the applicant to arrange a credit or debit card payment.

Printed documents and materials (maximum size = 11”x17”) may be mailed to:

Attention: NCBDC Evaluation Committee
725 N. A1A, Suite E-108
Jupiter, FL 33477

Annual Certification
When all ten certification exams are successfully completed, candidates will be asked to submit thier first year's annual certification fee. Upon receipt, NCBDC will issue a digital copy of the individual's personal certification mark and an 11"x17" certificate suitable for framing. Certification expires on the individual’s certification anniversary date. To recertify, individuals pay the $150 annual certification fee and must submit verification of eight continuing education credits obtained within the prior 12 month period (click on "Continuing Education" to the left to learn more about the CE Policy). Certified individuals are encouraged report their educational credits as they are earned to avoid as much backlog as possible.

U.S. Licensed or registered design professionals, such as architects, engineers, and building designers, may have up to all ten required certification exams waived by applying for reciprocity. All other application requirements still apply. Download the Candidate Handbook to access the Reciprocity Form. The application fee for reciprocity is $50. Once approved, the candidate will be asked to pay the first year's annual certification fee.

The NCBDC Certificate and Seal
Certified individuals will receive a professional certificate suitable for framing and an electronic version of the NCBDC Certification Mark with their name and certification number displayed prominently. In addition, certified individuals may use the designation “CPBD” (Certified Professional Building Designer) after their name. For a full explanation of how to properly use the Council’s name, designations, and seal, download the AIBD Branding Guidelines.

Certification is revoked if an individual does not recertify within 30 days of expiration or at any time the Board of Examiners feels it is in the best interest of the Council. Individuals have 36 months from the date of revocation to correct all outstanding issues, pay all recertification fees in arrears, verify all required continuing education, and pay a one-time recertification fee to reinstate their certification.

Certification is terminated 36 months after revocation and cannot be reinstated.