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Architect Vs. Contractor

Architects and contractors are both responsible for the design and construction of buildings, but there are some differences between these careers when it comes to the specific roles and tasks they have.

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Comparing Architects to Contractors

Our homes and public buildings are made both beautiful and functional by architects and contractors. These professionals often work together on the design and construction of a building, both inside and out. There are many differences between them, however, including the fact that contractors are often responsible for the actual build, while architects act as visionaries behind the scenes.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Architects Bachelor's Degree $76,930 7%
Contractors Bachelor's Degree $89,300 (Construction Managers) 5% (Construction Managers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Architects vs. Contractors

Both architects and contractors work with clients to ensure their visions become reality. They also both consider costs to keep the project feasible. Architects focus on sketching out the details of the design, while contractors offer their expertise to the construction. Additionally, contractors spend most of their time supervising and working with crews on site, while architects generally spend more time in the office.

Architects

To make a home or public space safe and visually appealing, architects act as engineers and artists. Not only do they attempt to meet the desires of their clients, they have to also ensure building codes for safety are being met during the design process. After meeting with clients, architects create a scaled sketch of the project, which often includes structural systems like plumbing. To keep the build on schedule, they may periodically visit the building site and check its the progress.

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • Assisting in the selection of building materials based on both code and design elements
  • Negotiating contracts with contractors to hire crews for the actual build
  • Renovating parts of old buildings to bring them up to code or to restore them to the original design
  • Considering the intended use of a building to ensure the best design

Contractors

Contractors supervise home-improvement projects, as well as new builds. They first meet with clients to gain an understanding of the project, and they then offer bids. These bids are based on a contractor's estimate for labor and materials, and a client hires the contractor who offers the best deal. The experience and special knowledge of the contractor and their team could also influence a client's decision to hire them. Therefore, it is important that contractors hire employees based on their skills and knowledge.

Job responsibilities of a contractor include:

  • Completing jobs that could include roofing, flooring, and electrical work
  • Obtaining the appropriate building permits from the city and county
  • Supervising construction crews to ensure the build is going to plan and everyone is safe
  • Utilizing power-tools and other instruments, such as drills, hammers, and nailers, during construction

Related Careers

If you dream of a career as an architect, you may want to look into a position as a drafter, as both of these careers focus on designing infrastructure. If, however, a job as a contractor interests you, you may want to research into a career as a construction inspector, as both of these careers require supervision of building code implementation.

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