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Residential Design Degree and Certification Program Options

Residential design professionals prepare detailed renderings, sketches and drafted presentations of residential structures. To enter this career, many individuals pursue certificate programs or associate's degrees in architectural technology.

Essential Information

Certificate and associate degree programs in architectural technology offer a residential design emphasis that provides the technical skills and industry knowledge needed to begin careers in the residential design field. These programs may take one to two years to complete, and they typically cover drafting, blueprint reading, lighting and structural technologies.

Candidates should have basic drafting and computer skills before beginning the curriculum, which can be attained through an introductory drafting course prior to beginning core classes. After school, individuals wanting to advance their careers may wish to become certified through The National Council of Building Designer Certification (NCBDC).


Certificate in Architectural Technology with an Emphasis in Residential Design

Students in this program gain the technical knowledge needed to design and prepare residential working drawings through hands-on courses that focus on both single-family and multi-family residential buildings. Instruction introduces students to concepts in residential design theory, presentation drawing techniques, computer-assisted design and residential interiors. Students can usually complete this type of program in 12 to 18 months. A high school diploma or equivalent is generally needed to apply. Topics that are typically included in a certificate curriculum include architectural drawing and drafting in addition to the following:

  • Residential planning
  • Construction materials
  • Residential building codes
  • Blueprint reading and specifications
  • Lighting solutions for the home

Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Technology with a Residential Design Concentration

An associate degree program in residential design covers the underlying theories and methods of the complete residential design process, including designing, detailing and drafting. Students develop the technical skills needed to produce professional residential architecture designs through both lecture and hands-on lab courses. Students explore a number of specific residential design topics, including residential landscaping, presentation techniques, architectural history, computer-aided design and preparation of construction documents. The curriculum might also include the following topics:

  • Residential planning
  • Residential structural technology
  • Construction materials and methods
  • Architectural design fundamentals
  • Residential detailing
  • Building codes

Popular Career Options

Individuals who have completed a certificate program in residential design can find employment with residential design firms, construction management companies, retailers and manufacturers of building-related products. Possible job opportunities include:

  • Assistant residential designer
  • Showroom consultant
  • Home improvement retail sales
  • Residential plan renderer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates of a residential design program can pursue a variety of job opportunities with residential design and architectural firms. One career option is becoming an architectural drafter for residential projects. Architectural drafters prepare detailed renderings and drawings of residential buildings for construction management, design and home improvement firms. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of architectural and civil drafters was projected to decrease 3% during the 2014-2024 decade, Those who keep current with the latest software programs will have the best opportunities. In May 2015, the median annual wage for this position was $50,710.

Continuing Education Information

The NCBDC offers voluntary certification to industry professionals wishing to advance their careers and obtain proof of their qualifications. Certification requirements include a minimum of six years professional experience, industry-related educational credits and a passing score on the national certification exam administered by the NCBDC. Certified building designers are required to complete a number of continuing education credit hours each year in order to stay up-to-date with industry standards and maintain their certification.

Coursework for residential design programs typically teach students design and planning skills as well as construction methods. Industry professionals who wish to advance their careers may get further certifications.


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