Background: The Architects Registration Board (ARB) in the UK has the following on its website

The Architects Register is the definitive record of all UK architects. If someone is not on the Register, they are not an architect – it’s as simple as that. The title “architect” is protected by law in the UK. It can only be used by people who have the appropriate education, training and experience needed to join the Architects Register.

Anyone with the appropriate education and work experience can apply and join the register and only then can they legally call themselves an architect. If one is not registered but calls oneself an architect e.g. on LinkedIn, the ARB can and does prosecute. It has even gone to absurd levels to enforce this rule e.g. here.

I understand the need for protected job titles and the need to have a body that safeguards such protections but now comes the part I find a little absurd: The ARB charges every architect in the UK an annual fee to stay on their register. The fee is £119 this year. Failure to pay this fee results in a fairly swift removal from the register and one also loses the legal right to call themselves an architect. Even if you're unemployed, the fee is mandatory to retain the right to use the word "architect" in one's CV, LinkedIn, etc.

Is there any other country/profession where use of the protected job title requires payment of an annual fee? Does the ARB's policy of charging an annual retention fee seem reasonable and if not, is there a UK government agency that one can make a formal complaint to about this?


Moo's comment made me realize that the same holds for doctors too. As someone who works in neither field, the fact that some people must pay an annual fee to a government body for their entire lifetime just to call themselves a doctor or an architect feels very strange.

It surprises me that this money doesn't come out of taxpayer funds. After all, it is for the protection of the general public that some job titles are regulated so it seems unfair that the doctors/architects/etc. are the ones paying for this regulatory service.

  • £119 is a pittance compared to what medical doctors have to pay in the UK...
    – user28517
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 6:51
  • 2
    Operating the ARB costs money. Your suggestion is equivalent to the ARB becoming a government-funded (and therefore government-controlled) institution. Is that what you want?
    – alephzero
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 16:30
  • Can anyone call themselves a Lawyer or an Accountant? Also lookup Dietician vs Nutritionist in UK law.
    – Qwerky
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 17:24
  • As an alternative to protected job titles, some significant professions have licensing boards. In the USA, to my knowledge, this includes all forms of medical doctors, chiropractors, social workers, lawyers. A social worker, for example, who is not currently licensed is prohibited from working as a social worker in nearly all contexts, but can still mention that they have a degree in social work. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 17:57
  • 3
    @alephzero yes. The beneficiaries of such registers includes the general public and it seems more reasonable to expect it to be funded by all taxpayers. Just to clarify, Qwerky and Ross Presser, it's not the existence of protected titles or licensing boards that I have an issue with - it's how they are funded that seems unfair.
    – JRT
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 18:13

3 Answers 3


This is commonplace in many jurisdictions across many profession, trades and businesses

The authorisation of the register and the amount of any fee (which can be zero) is spelled out in the legislation. As is who is authorised to collect it and maintain the register: sometimes it’s a government authority, sometimes it’s a professional association. Sometimes the title is protected and sometimes it isn’t.

Off the cuff, the following is an incomplete list for . Some of these are Federally regulated and some are State based. Some of the State based ones are nationally recognised, meaning if you register in one state you are registered in all, and some aren’t. Some states require registration that other states don’t.

  • Architect
  • Engineer
  • Doctor
  • Nurse
  • Physiotherapist
  • Nutritionist
  • Veterinarian
  • Solicitor
  • Barrister
  • Anyone working with children
  • Plumber
  • Drainer
  • Gasfitter
  • Roofer
  • Electrician
  • Waterproofer
  • Builder
  • Real Estate Agent
  • Used Car Dealer
  • Bus driver
  • Truck driver
  • Taxi/ride-share driver
  • Train driver
  • Ship’s master
  • Second-hand goods dealer
  • Security guard
  • Bartender
  • Forklift operator
  • Crane operator
  • Builder’s hoist operator
  • It should be noted that "Engineer" in particular has been the subject of some controversy in the US. Laws will vary by jurisdiction.
    – Kevin
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 16:46
  • Thanks - that's a great list of protected titles! Just to clarify, do all these professionals also pay an annual fee to remain on a register in Australia?
    – JRT
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 18:09
  • What the heck is "Anyone working with children" supposed to mean? I would be astonished if it was a job title, and "working with children" is extremely vague. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 20:54
  • @user2357112supportsMonica to work with children (even in a volunteer capacity) you have to obtain a "working with children" card, although it's now called "Working with vulnerable people". As part of that process they do some digging into your history to determine whether you are a threat to children, people with disabilities, etc.
    – Aaron
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:02
  • @Aaron: That still doesn't explain what it means to "work with" children. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 21:04

the ARB's policy of charging an annual retention fee

It's not ARB policy, it's parliament's. See s.8(1) of the Architects Act 1997:

The Board may require a registered person to pay a retention fee of a prescribed amount if he wishes his name to be retained in Part 1 of the Register in any calendar year after that in which it was entered.


  • 5
    That legislation ALLOWS the ARB to collect a fee (may requires), it does not MANDATE such a fee - that decision is left to the ARB.
    – deep64blue
    Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 15:39

There has been a long running debate in the UK about making the term Engineer a protected title similar to that described for Architects and Doctors. This has always come up against the problem that most people think that a Heating Engineer is actually the gas repair man or an Automotive Engineer is a car mechanic. For both of these types of Engineers, and many others, there are registers maintained by the Engineering Council for which we have to pay an annual fee.

  • Not to mention people like "Software Engineers," "Quality Engineers," and "Management Engineers" who would probably have to change their professional title since the "engineer registration board" would probably like to exclude these people, at least going off general sentiment in the US. Commented Jan 12, 2021 at 20:43
  • @AndrewRay Don't forget Sanitation Engineers... Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 0:21
  • @AndrewRay - If the title were to become "protected", like Doctor, then they would have to find another job title.I am employed as an Embedded Software Engineer and a Chartered Engineer on the Enginering Council Register. Fortunately my last few employers have considered it a good thing to have proprly qualified Engineers among their staff and have paid the registration fees for me. They also do a similar thing for their accounancy staff and other professionals that require registration. They have generally paid for one registration per person.
    – uɐɪ
    Commented Jan 13, 2021 at 11:18

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