Several levels of training in residential architecture are available, but a bachelor's degree program is the minimum requirement for professional licensure. Other requirements for licensing include an internship period and competency examination.
An associate's degree program in architectural technology may allow students to focus on residential design. Students get a foundational knowledge of the field through courses in the history of architecture, construction technology and surveying, and acquire hands-on experience in computer-aided design (CAD) software and drawing. The bachelor's degree program builds on this, including creating models of student designs and interning. There are several types of master's degree programs in architecture, and some are available online. Students may have the option to specialize in an area such as sustainable architecture. Coursework depends on the student's educational background and career goals.
Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Architectural Technology, Residential Design Emphasis
The AAS in Architectural Technology covers various aspects of residential design and construction. Students learn sustainable design concepts, such as solar design; residential design theory, residential landscaping and other subjects. These 2-year programs also require some general education units in science, math and English. Students learn to create preliminary drawings and finished documents for residential dwellings using CAD software. Other skills include construction cost estimation and project management. Coursework may include:
- Construction technology
- History of architecture
- Computer aided design (CAD)
- Project management
- 3-D Computer modeling
Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)
The B.Arch. degree is a professional, 5-year degree that prepares graduates to become licensed architects. Applicants are required to have completed four years each of math and English, as well as one year of physics, with some schools requiring a portfolio and interview. The curriculum requires a significant amount of hours spent building models of proposed structures. Students learn to solve problems related to design esthetics, communication and physical structures through coursework in site planning, structural systems and design history. During a required internship, students can seek placement with architectural design firms that specialize in residential building design. Students hone their skills in research, communication, collaboration and drafting while learning about aesthetics, human behavior, safety, sustainable design and construction costs, with coursework including:
- Architectural history and analysis
- Building technology and design
- Environmental systems
- Professional practices
- Structural concepts
- Computer aided drafting
Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
Depending on the institution, several types of master's degrees in architecture may be available. Some M.Arch. tracks culminate in a professional degree that prepares those with a bachelor's degree other than the B.Arch. to become architects, while others are suited for people who already possess the 5-year B.Arch. degree.
Applicants are usually required to have a grade point average of 3.0 and to submit a portfolio of past work. Programs take 1-4 years to complete, depending upon the undergraduate academic background of the applicant; accelerated online programs are also available. Depending on the school, it may be possible to pursue a specialization, such as interior architecture or sustainable architecture. The master's degree generally requires independent research or thesis work; students interested specifically in residential architecture may design or conduct research in this area. Students learn about interior architecture, urban design, new materials and the effect of design on human psychology alongside curriculum that addresses multiple architectural concepts related to residential, urban and commercial design. Commonly offered courses include:
- Building structures
- Construction practices
- Digital media
- Integrated technology
- Sustainable design
Popular Career Options
Professional architectural drafters can find work with architectural and engineering services firms. Graduates also may be employed by local government agencies and in residential and nonresidential building construction. Some careers include:
- General contractor
- Residential layout designer
- Residential architecture detailer
Positions can be found with not-for-profit organizations, such as those concerned with historic preservation; educational institutions and governmental agencies dealing with residential home construction, such as state housing authorities. A graduate degree can also serve as preparation for a career in college teaching, research and various specialty areas. Job titles available to master's degree program graduates include:
- Project manager
- College faculty member
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architects held 133,900 positions in 2018. They earned a median annual wage of $79,380 as of May 2018. Employment opportunities for architects were anticipated to grow 8% from 2018-2028, reports the BLS, which is faster than the average.
Continuing Education and Licensure Information
The minimum educational requirement for those interested in sitting for the professional architecture exam is a Bachelor of Architecture degree. Those wishing to work as a professional architect need to complete at least three years as an intern, supervised by a licensed architect. After the internship period has been completed, individuals must pass the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards-administrated Architect Registration Examination (ARE) prior to practicing (www.ncarb.org). Continuing education requirements for the maintenance of the license vary by state.
Residential architecture degrees are available at a variety of levels. Students should be prepared to spend a bit more than average time in their studies, as undergraduate programs often take five years to complete and master's programs can take up to four years.