Residential Designer: Career Summary, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for residential designers. Get the facts about education options, career outlook and certification to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Residential Designer?

Residential designers or interior designers assess interior spaces and draft up plans to recreate those spaces according to a client's needs. They decide what materials will be needed and how much funding is needed to complete the project. These plans are often part of a bid that clients use to choose between competing designers. Once a project begins, residential designers are often responsible for overseeing the progress and ensuring that it sticks with the plan. The chart below gives an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Bachelor's degree
Education Field of Study Architecture, interior design, architectural design
Key Responsibilities Design residential architectural renovation plans, confer with clients, keep to a budget
Certification/Licensure Available through the National Council of Building Designer Certification; interior designers may need to be licensed in some states
Job Growth (2014-2024) 4%* (for all interior designers)
Median Annual Salary (2015) $48,840* (for all interior designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is a Residential Designer?

A residential designer is best described as being a cross between an interior designer and an architect, and might also be called an interior architect or a building designer. Your main responsibility in the position is to create and execute design plans for the renovation or construction of residential buildings. You typically work with homeowners, rental building owners and landlords to settle upon a desired design for a building. An effective design in a residential building can increase its value, provide for a comfortable living space, and accentuate certain areas of the home through effective use of space and lighting.

As a residential designer, you should be able to read and draft blueprints, work with computer-aided drafting (CAD) technology and design architectural detailing, such as crown molding or built-in bookshelves. You'll communicate with clients to understand their needs versus their wants, and to make sure that a renovation or building project remains on budget. You'll also outsource construction work and supervise those workers during the execution of a project.

What Is the Outlook for this Career?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not offer specific data for residential designers or building designers, but did report that employment for interior designers is expected to grow 4% from 2014-2024; architects could see employment growth of 7% during the same decade. Stress on the housing market and increasing interest in do-it-yourself activities may hamper the growth of this job market. Kitchens, baths, outside living areas and technology-based rooms are anticipated to be the top rooms that need remodeling.

As of 2015, architects earned a mean annual wage of about $82,850, according to the BLS. The annual mean wage for those architects working in residential building construction was about $75,320 that year. Interior designers earned an average salary of $55,510 in 2015, and those in the residential building industry earned an average of $59,440.

What Education Will I Need to Find Employment?

An undergraduate program such as a bachelor's degree in architecture, architectural design or interior design can prepare you for entry-level positions in this field. Most states also require you to hold a professional degree in architecture from an accredited school before you can gain the licensure necessary to work as an architect.

To gain certification from a professional body such as the National Council of Building Designer Certification, you need to complete six years of professional experience and earn industry-appropriate educational credits. With six years of education and experience combined, you can also opt to take the licensing exam for interior design qualification in 23 states. The National Council for Interior Design Qualification offers the exam with the same name. This exam tests you on codes, interior design and planning.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Residential designers share many of the responsibilities as construction managers, who oversee a project and make sure it stays on budget. A bachelor's degree is the basic academic requirement for many construction managers, though some can rise to the position with only a high school education and significant experience. Graphic design is another career that may be of interest. These professionals craft designs for brochures, books and online materials, ensuring they're aesthetically pleasing. These professionals usually hold a bachelor's degree as well.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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