The 2021 NSCA 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.

The 2021 AACA National Standards of Competency for Architects can be found here.

The 2021 NSCA sets out the benchmark against which an applicant for registration as an architect in Australia is measured.

Embedded within the practice of architecture is the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples’ ongoing connection and custodianship of Country, and the ethical responsibilities to the physical environment and the transition to a carbon-neutral built environment. These responsibilities are fundamental to architecture practice.

Architectural design – a creative endeavour combined with the capacity to realise and deliver built projects – is at the core of the profession of architecture. The NSCA sets out a clear roadmap for the development and assessment of competency at key milestones over the course of a career in architecture – from graduation, through the registration process, to ongoing practice after registration. This is inclusive of a range of practice models and career paths.

The three main components of the NSCA are Professional Capabilities, Competency Profiles and Units of Competency, which are assessed through associated Performance Criteria. These integrate to form a cohesive system that supports the development of professional competency over time.

SHAPE Fitout, JPE Design Studio. Photography by David Sievers.

Professional capabilities

Professional capabilities encapsulate the knowledge, skills and attributes that underpin professional education in architecture and practice as an architect in Australia.

The NSCA groups these into three core areas:

  • Professionalism
  • Communication and
  • Environmental Practice.

These broad capabilities are relevant to all modes of architectural practice and inform the ongoing professional education of architects. They provide the umbrella for the Units of Competency and are reflected across the Performance Criteria as a whole.

Competency Profiles
The NSCA maps the expectations of professional competency at three levels:

  • Graduate of architecture
  • Candidate for registration as an architect
  • Architect post-registration

Units of Competency
Four Units of Competency outline the required knowledge and skills involved in the practice of architecture.

  • Practice Management and Professional Conduct
  • Project Initiation and Conceptual Design
  • Detailed Design and Construction Documentation
  • Design Delivery and Construction Phase Services

Performance Criteria
Performance Criteria describe discrete aspects of architectural practice and are organised under the Units of Competency. Each Unit has a corresponding set of criteria for each of the three competency profiles.

The 2021 NSCA has a total of 60 performance criteria which are assessed across programs on the path to registration as an architect. 48 performance criteria are assessed in the APE.