An architect is not simply somebody who works in an architecture firm or one who has graduated from architecture school. An architect is a licensed professional deemed by their jurisdictions to have met all criteria required to hold the license. It is a protected professional title. Each state has slightly different rules and processes for licensure, but, for the most part, each state requires an accredited degree, at least three years of supervised experience, and the passing of what is called the Architecture Registration Exam or ARE, a series of 6 exams. Only after completing all of these steps can one call themselves an architect.
As a client, ask who on your project’s team has a license. Remember, there is no such thing as an unlicensed architect. Be wary of firms and designers who misrepresent themselves as architects but do not hold a license. It is a red flag. There is no harm in having non-licensed designers and project managers on your project’s team. Do not be afraid to ask, as reputable firms will not be shy about who is licensed and who is not. License and standing is public information and can be found on your state’s website.