Architects design the blueprints for a variety of structures, from cabins to offices to factories to auditoriums. Many architects choose one type of structure to focus on, such as houses. However, all architects must undergo the same or similar education and certification.
Home designers, more formally called residential architects, design the way that homes, apartment complexes and other places of residence look and function. Home designers may be a part of all stages of the construction process. All states require architects to obtain a license and hold a bachelor's degree in architecture before practicing independently.
|Required Education||Bachelor's degree in architecture|
|Other Requirements||State licensure|
|Projected Job Growth*||7% between 2014 and 2024|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$76,100|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Residential architects are responsible for transforming the building needs and desires of their clients into realistic blueprints, layouts and plans for execution. They must understand municipal codes and local, state and federal building regulations when designing and planning their projects. Architects may also be expected to administer contracts and broker deals with material suppliers, activities that demand a degree of administrative and business acumen.
Architects need to be proficient in computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software, database management software and graphic design software, among other computerized tools. Residential architects may be required to work with manually operated pieces of equipment, such as drafting machines, photocopiers and fretsaws.
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Aspiring residential architects must hold at least a bachelor's degree in architecture in order to practice. In most states, these pre-professional bachelor's degree programs must be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and are designed for students who have no prior training in architecture. Students in these programs may be required to take basic core courses, such as calculus and physics, in addition to courses related to the field, such as architecture history, design and materials mechanics.
The master's degree in architecture is designed for individuals with undergraduate architecture degrees or individuals who have no prior education in architecture but desire postgraduate training. The duration of these master's programs may depend on the extent of students' past architectural training. Students may be required to master architectural theory, structural planning and professional issues, among other areas.
All states require architects to acquire licenses before they start soliciting business on their own. Prospective architects may have to undergo a multi-year internship after they graduate and before they can qualify to sit for the licensing exam. A licensed architect usually oversees apprentices. All states require prospect architects to pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) before they can start practicing independently (www.ncarb.org). The exam covers a range of subjects, including project management, planning issues, schematic design, building systems and site design.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median wage of $76,100 for architects. The BLS also predicted employment for architects to increase by 7% from 2014-2024, which is equal to the average of all occupations.
Architects need a bachelor's degree, as well as licensure through completion of the Architect Registration Examination, before they can practice independently. They must be competent with computer programs such as CADD and knowledgeable about the structural needs of the homes they design. Jobs are expected to remain steady in the field of architecture through 2024.