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Residential Designer Vs. Architect

Residential designers and architects complete many of the same tasks, but there are subtle differences between the two that matter a great deal. Learn more about the distinctions between these careers.

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Comparing Residential Designers to Architects

Residential designers focus on individuals and creating private spaces, while architects may design for individuals, corporations, or governments. Architects often have wider training and experience in the bidding, inspection and construction processes, and they might be the best fit for the most involved projects.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Residential Designers Bachelor's Degree $49,810 (Interior Designers) 5% (Interior Designers)
Architects Bachelor's Degree $76,930 4%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of Residential Designers vs. Architects

Both of these professionals meet with clients in the hopes of understanding their goals for a build, but residential designers assist with more than just drawing simple blueprints. In fact, they may even assist in designing the interior elements. Architects may create detailed drawings of the structure, much like residential designers, but they carry important certifications that allow them more authority when ensuring a building is up to the required codes. Additionally, both of these careers require use of CADD (computer-aided design and drafting), along with other design tools.

Residential Designers

Residential designers meet with clients looking to build a home or update their current residence. After finding out the client's budget and vision for the project, they draw plans and build 3D models of the space. To these designers, one of the key elements is how a space will be used on a daily basis, and they work to match this function with the lifestyle and taste of the client. To do this, they research new design and building trends.

Job responsibilities of a residential designer include:

  • Drawing floorplans, which include furnishings and electrical elements
  • Assisting clients in selecting the best materials for the build based on their knowledge of design and pricing
  • Procuring permits when necessary
  • Overseeing the build and installation of any ornamentation

Architects

Architects design everything from private dwellings to industrial factories. The first step after procuring a job is to meet with the clients and learn the details of their desired building. During this meeting, architects may make initial sketches and provide rough estimates for the cost of the project, which includes materials and builders. The last step, before handing the job over to contractors, is to create blueprints and other images of the proposed building or addition that include specifications and measurements.

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • Writing up contracts for contractors who will bid on the project
  • Researching building regulations in the area to ensure building code is met
  • Leading a team of engineers and artists who will complete scaled drawings
  • Visiting the proposed building site to better understand the space

Related Careers

As someone potentially drawn to a career as a residential designer, you may also look into a job as an industrial designer, since both require the ability to sketch someone's ideas and make them come to life. If, however, you think a career as an architect is for you, it may be helpful for you to also research a position as an urban planner, as both work to utilize and build on land.

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