Residential Architecture Career Info and Education Requirements

Sep 07, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a residential architect. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and licensing to find out if this is the career for you.

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Residential architects start their career with an architectural degree. Residential architects focus their work on apartments, condos, single-family homes, remodels, and other similar projects. Licensing is necessary for architects to practice, but certification for residential architects is voluntary and may increase work opportunities.

Essential Information

Architects are licensed professionals who use art and science to design and build structures. Residential architects use their skills to specifically build residential properties, such as apartment complexes and houses, for individual housing purposes. These professionals must complete an architecture program at the bachelor's or master's level, as well as an internship, and pass a national licensing examination.

Required Education 5-year bachelor's degree in architecture or a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in architecture; completion of an internship is also typical
Licensing All states require architects to pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE); voluntary certification is also available
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 8%* (Architects)
Median Salary (May 2018) $79,380* (Architects)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Residential architecture, also called domestic architecture, is the design and building of residential properties. These projects include multi-unit residential buildings, single-family homes, renovations and remodels. Residential architects differ from commercial architects, who use their architectural skills and education to design workplaces.

Residential architects approach heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) and electrical systems differently than other architects. Their designs tend to be focused on aesthetic appeal, and they might have more creative freedom with projects. Zoning regulations, building codes and materials are other differences in residential architecture. Professionals work for construction and architecture firms, real estate developers and homeowners. Some residential architects are self-employed.

Educational Requirements

Residential architects, like all architects, need to earn a professional degree from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB). Different types of architecture degree programs are available. Options include a traditional bachelor's degree, a 5-year Bachelor of Architecture and master's degrees. Students who complete a traditional program will need to go on to a master's program to qualify for licensure, while those who earn a Bachelor of Architecture will already be qualified.

Some aspiring residential architects opt to specialize in areas like environmentally-friendly architecture, historic preservation and restoration. Additionally, most programs contain an internship component.


A training period of three years is recommended before residential architects sit for the necessary licensing exam. Graduates are supervised by licensed architects and may not individually contract out their work. After the training or internship, individuals must pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

Voluntary certification is available through the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB) and increases professional opportunities. Continuing education is mandatory in some states.

A degree in architecture from an accredited architecture program is the start to a residential architect's career. Residential architects balance art and functionality to design, remodel and create residence buildings, including condominiums, apartments, and homes. Residential architects can find employment with architecture firms or as self-employed architects.

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