Residential Architect: Salary and Career Facts

A residential architect creates designs for houses and other residential properties. Learn the typical duties of residential architects as well as the education and licensure requirements. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does A Residential Architect Do?

Residential architects design buildings that will be used as residences. This includes single family homes, townhouses, condominiums and apartment buildings. Architects will meet with clients to determine their needs and begin to create design proposals for the residence. Through a series of meetings with the client they will address any concerns and revise their design until the client is satisfied. They will produce drawings to scale using computer-aided design (CAD) software or by hand, and develop the blueprints needed for contractors and those involved in the construction. Architects primarily work in offices, although they will visit job sites to ensure that the building design is being followed and that the project is on schedule. The chart below includes important information on becoming a residential architect.

Degree Required Professional bachelor's degree in architecture; master's program also available
Education Field of Study Architecture
Licensure All states require architects to be licensed
Key Duties Design residential buildings, estimate costs, work up drawings
Job Growth (2014-2024) 7%* (all architects)
Median Salary (2015) $76,100* (all architects)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Is a Residential Architect?

A residential architect develops building ideas, concepts and designs for residential buildings, homes, condominiums and other structures where people live. The design process involves creating something that looks good and is functional. Your job is to ensure that your designs are practical and can actually be constructed. You may have to create designs that fit into a certain space, time limit or budget. You have to work with the set criteria given to you and design a structure that meets the needs of everyone involved, from the buyer to the contractor.

During the design process, most of your work is done in an office. You may need to travel to meet clients, contractors or vendors. As you progress in the project, you will likely travel more to meet with the various people involved and to ensure the project is running smoothly. In addition to creating designs and building project models, your job duties may include overseeing work at the construction site, negotiating contracts or purchasing supplies.

What Requirements Must I Meet For This Career?

An architecture license is required in all states to practice as an architect. Requirements for a license include a degree in architecture, completion of an internship and passing an exam. The architecture registration board in each state sets the requirements and details of licensing.

A degree in architecture from a program accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) is part of the requirement for licensing in most states. Architecture degrees include bachelor, master and doctorate programs.

Internships are set up according to standards from the Intern Development Program. This program was developed by the National Council of Architectural Registration Board (NCARB) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Training must be done under a licensed architect and usually lasts for about three years. During training you may assist with project design, research building codes or build models.

The last step before you can get a license is to pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE). This exam is required in all states and tests your knowledge and skills in architecture.

Are There Other Requirements?

Most states have continuing education requirements for licensed architects. Continuing education may include seminars, classes, workshops or conferences. Continuing education may be found through professional organizations such as the AIA, which provides members access to courses in topics including building science, design, legal matters, materials and project types.

You may also consider certification. It is not mandatory, but it is a good way to provide proof of your knowledge and skills. The most common certification is offered through the NCARB.

What Are the Possible Earnings?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2015, architects earned a median annual wage of $76,100 ( reported that as of October 2016, architect salaries for the 25th-75th percentile were $43,208-$103,733, including bonuses.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Civil engineers need a bachelor's degree, and they are involved in the design of things such as buildings, bridges and roads. They perform many tasks that are similar to the work that an architect does and may meet with clients to develop proposals. Landscape architects design plans for outdoor spaces, such as parks and gardens, and also need to have a bachelor's degree. Construction managers use the design plans produced by architects and oversee those involved in the construction of the building until it is complete. They need to familiarize themselves with the plans for the project and review the work to ensure the plans from the architect are followed and that the project stays on schedule and on budget. Construction managers also need a bachelor's degree.

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