Home Designer: Overview for Architecture Career Education
Home designers, more formally called residential architects, design the way homes, apartment complexes and other places of residence look and function. Home designers may be a part of all stages of the construction process. All states require architects to obtain a license and hold a bachelor's degree in architecture before practicing independently.
Residential architects are responsible for transforming the building needs and desires of their clients into realistic blueprints, layouts and plans for execution. They must understand municipal codes and local, state and federal building regulations when designing and planning their projects. Architects may also be expected to administer contracts and broker deals with material suppliers, activities that demand a degree of administrative and business acumen.
Architects need to be proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) software, database management software and graphic design software, among other computerized tools. Residential architects may be required to work with manually operated pieces of equipment, such as drafting machines, photocopiers and fretsaws.
Aspiring residential architects must hold at least a bachelor's degree in architecture in order to practice. In most states, these pre-professional bachelor's degree programs must be accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) and are designed for students who have no prior training in architecture. Students in these programs may be required to take basic core courses, such as calculus and physics, in addition to courses related to the field, such as architecture history, design and materials mechanics.
The master's degree in architecture is designed for individuals with undergraduate architecture degrees or individuals who have no prior education in architecture but desire postgraduate training. The duration of these master's programs may depend on the extent of students' past architectural training. Students may be required to master architectural theory, structural planning and professional issues, among other areas.
All states require architects to acquire licenses before they start soliciting business on their own. Prospective architects may have to undergo a multi-year internship after they graduate and before they can qualify to sit for the licensing exam. A licensed architect usually oversees apprentices. All states require prospect architects to pass the Architect Registration Exam (ARE) before they can start practicing independently (www.ncarb.org). The exam covers a range of subjects, including project management, planning issues, schematic design, building systems and site design.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
In 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported an annual median wage of $74,110 for architects. The BLS also predicted employment for architects to increase by 17% from 2012-2022, which is faster than average.
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