Careers in Architecture and Construction: An Overview of Options

Learn about the education and preparation needed to work in the architecture and construction industries. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

There are many options for professions in the field of architecture and construction. Plumbers and construction trade workers perform essential tasks constructing a building and its plumbing system. Architectural drafters work on creating blueprints for building projects, while architects design projects, determine the structure of the building and select materials to be used in the construction.

Essential Information

Professionals in the architectural and construction industries design and build projects from roads to skyscrapers. While architecture is more closely associated with design, construction includes many facets, such as materials estimation and project inspection. Below are several career options and requirements for professionals in the architecture and construction industry.

Required Education Associate's or bachelor's degree in architecture
Other Requirements American Design Drafting Association certification
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 7% for architects
Median Salary (2015)* $76,100 annually for architects

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Architectural Drafters

Architectural drafters, sometimes referred to as architectural designers, use computer software and other tools to sketch preliminary and final designs for buildings and facilities. Drafters may acquire expertise in a specific field, such as residential, commercial or industrial design. Education requirements typically include either a certificate or associate's degree in architectural design, drafting or a related field. In order to improve job opportunities, architectural drafters may consider certification by the American Design Drafting Association.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for architectural drafters will decrease by 3% over the 2014-2024 decade. Advancements in technology that allow drafting duties to be delegated to other workers are a contributing factor to the decline in jobs in this field. The BLS' salary figures indicate architectural drafters earned a median salary of $50,710 per year in 2015.

Architects

Architects plan and design construction projects, including which materials to use and how to structure the building. These professional typically meet with clients in order to ascertain needs and requirements. Additionally, architects may confer with architectural drafters and project engineers to discuss building systems and structural issues. This may include pinpointing the location of heating, vacuum and air conditioning (HVAC) units, as well as determining whether to use concrete or steel for a given application. Architects typically have completed a bachelor's degree in architecture and a licensing exam.

Architects are likely to see a 7% increase in demand between 2014 and 2024, based on the BLS' data. The median salary for these professionals in May of 2015 was $76,100, according to the BLS.

Construction Laborer

Construction laborers perform job site duties ranging from preparing the site for delivery of materials to readying concrete mixers. Some laborers may specialize in specifics tasks like assembling scaffolding or hanging drywall. New hires may gain knowledge and experience through on-the-job training or an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships typically last 2-4 years and include both classroom instruction and paid work experience.

The median salary for construction laborers in 2015 was $31,910, as reported by the BLS. Data from the BLS shows the growth potential in this field will be favorable over the 2014-2024 time period, with a 13% growth rate over the decade.

Construction Trade Contractors

Construction trade contractors specialize in an aspect of construction, like plumbing. These professionals generally learn their respective trades from an apprenticeship program, after which they may continue on to become journeymen or masters in their field. For example, a plumbing apprentice may become proficient with soldering pipe and fittings through classroom training and work experience, and go on to work for a general contractor, plumbing contractor or become a licensed plumbing contractor. Contractors can also become certified by a professional organization, such as the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, to gain a competitive edge and increased employment opportunities.

Job availability and earning potential vary depending on the specialty. For plumbers, the BLS predicts job growth should be above average from 2014 to 2024, with demand increasing by 12%. Individuals in this profession earned an annual median salary of $50,620 in 2015, as reported by the BLS.

The educational requirements for careers in architecture and construction vary widely. On-the-job training or completing an apprenticeship are typical requirements for plumbers and constructions laborers, while architects need to have a bachelor's degree and license. Architectural drafters can prepare for their career with a postsecondary certificate or associate's degree.


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