A degree in building science can prepare graduates for several careers in the construction industry, ranging from project manager to building project researcher. Programs in building science are available at the bachelor's and master's degree level, providing instruction in building design and construction administration. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more and more employers in the construction industry prefer to hire managers with at least a baccalaureate degree. Completing a graduate-level program in building science can help candidates stand out from the competition when seeking jobs.
Bachelor of Science in Building Science
These 4-year programs are often closely related to architecture and construction management. Programs are very hands-on, and students may be able to complete projects in furniture design, structural element building and environmentally friendly system upgrades. Some schools require students to take summer courses in field surveying in addition to taking four classes per semester.
In some cases, schools put students into pre-professional tracks until they satisfactorily complete three semesters of coursework. Students are generally not required to meet any additional stipulations, other than being high school graduates. Undergraduate programs teach students about safety protocol, steel, concrete, building equipment and the basics of how to run a business. Programs can cover subjects such as:
- Building materials
- Construction technology
- Project controls
Master's Degree in Building Science
Building and construction involve a great variety of disciplines, like mechanics, communication and pollution mitigation. Students in master's-level programs can learn to design smart structures for sustainability and resistance to natural forces, and can also experiment with materials using computer simulations. Programs at this level commonly take between 1-2 years to complete. Concentrations in this field can include acoustics, design for public spaces and facility management. Applicants are typically required to have completed a bachelor's degree in a field related to engineering, industrial design or architecture. Applicants who have completed 5-year degree programs in architecture may be eligible for advanced standing. Master's degree programs can cover topics like passive energy, active energy and building structures in preparation for students choosing the topic of their thesis. Material covered in these types of programs can include:
- Building systems
- Environmental systems
- Seismic design
- Subsystem integration
- Structural research
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were over 1.6 million construction laborers working in various fields, as of May 2019 (www.bls.gov). Among these, entry-level workers were employed in the following jobs:
- Building product researcher
- Construction technician
- Design-build firm manager
- Technical representative at a real-estate firm
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the BLS, construction managers were expected to experience an 8% growth in employment opportunities from 2019-2029. The same source reported that, as of May 2019, construction managers earned a median annual wage of $95,260. The majority of these professionals worked in nonresidential and residential building construction as well as for building equipment contractors.
Ph.D. programs in building science are rare, but do exist. Programs at this level are often combined with another discipline, like mechanical engineering or building diagnostics and performance. Several types of degree programs can prepare individuals for careers in the building industry, including Bachelor of Architecture, Bachelor of Science in Construction Management, Bachelor of Science in Construction Science and Bachelor of Science in Engineering.
While employers prefer to hire construction managers with at least a bachelor's degrees in building science, master's degree graduates may have even greater employment opportunities. Master's degree students may also be able to concentrate their studies on topics such as facility management or design for public spaces.