While bachelor's degrees specifically in residential planning aren't common, associate's and bachelor's degrees in different architectural fields, like architecture, architectural engineering technology, and architectural drafting, can provide access to residential planning coursework. Internships and portfolio work are often part of the curriculum. Some programs offer a concentration in community development, which is similar to residential planning. Students may want to seek architecture programs approved by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Many states require that licensed architects be graduates of a NAAB-accredited program (www.naab.org).
For admission, a high school diploma or an equivalent is necessary, but other requirements may include a portfolio of creative work such as photography, free-hand sketches, paintings or another medium. To work as an architect, a license, fieldwork and an examination are the steps necessary. In addition, voluntary drafting certification is available for graduates.
Associate's Degree in Residential Planning
Associate's degree programs prepare students for jobs assisting professional architects. These individuals may create schematics or draw plans based on specifications. They learn basic concepts such as drafting and design, as well as standard industry practices.
Program topics include drawing, design and construction materials. Students may have to complete laboratory sessions in computer-aided drafting and related software programs. General education requirements include math and business. Residential planning courses may be offered. Common courses include:
- Architectural drafting and design
- Commercial design
- Residential design
- Building codes
- Site planning
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Bachelor of Science in Residential Planning
Bachelor's degree programs in architecture provide training on how to design residential and commercial structures, with advanced topics focused on design, technology and building structures. These programs may include work in computer labs and design studios. Students learn how to utilize design software and develop drawing and drafting skills. Program coursework covers theoretical and practical aspects of architecture. Advanced courses cover design concepts, and may include residential planning or green building. Course topics may include:
- History of architecture
- Architectural design
- Building system design
- Architectural technology
- Construction materials and methods
Popular Career Options
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) noted that career opportunities for architects exist in several industries, including architectural services, construction, manufacturing and local government (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, the growing U.S. population will create more opportunities for architects who work in residential planning. Architectural draftsmen and technicians will be needed to design new structures or improve existing ones. The BLS also indicated that a significant number of architects are self-employed. Some possible career options include:
- Architectural drafter
- Architectural technician
- Computer-aided design technician
- Design architect
- Project architect
- Planning architect
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported median annual salaries of $76,100 for architects and $50,710 for architectural and civil drafters. From 2014-2024, the BLS predicted average employment growth of 7% for architects and a decline of 3% for architectural and civil drafters.
Individuals may want to pursue professional credentials such as those offered by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). The ADDA requires individuals to pass an exam that covers topics such as geometric construction, drafting standards and object representation (www.adda.org). Continuing education standards must be met to maintain certification.
Professional architects must meet state licensing standards. Obtaining a state license involves gaining experience under a licensed architect and passing the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). The ARE is offered by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) and the test is comprised of multiple sections, including building design, structural systems and site planning (www.ncarb.org). Professional architects need to meet continuing education standards to remain licensed. The NCARB also offers a professional certification as a separate credential from licensure.
Students interested in residential planning can earn an associate's or bachelor's degree in the field of architecture to study drafting and design. These skills will help them pursue careers as licensed architects or technicians.