Residential architects are design professionals who specialize in the design and construction of residential buildings, such as individual homes and condominiums. Residential architects may work for contractors or for individual prospective homeowners to design residential homes.
Residential architects are concerned with the aesthetic of a residential building as well as its functionality.
Residential architects begin a project by meeting with a client to determine that client's individual design tastes, vision, and budget. They then draft up plans (called "blueprints") of the proposed design.
A residential architect is concerned with much more than the aesthetic of a home. Residential architects need to take into account zoning laws, environmental factors, and the structural stability of the building. They also need to design the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling components of the building.
Some residential architects oversee projects from their conceptual stages into completion, which means they work closely with contractors, homeowners, builders, and even interior designers.
In the United States, residential architects need to be licensed in order to practice. Most states require that aspiring architects have a degree in architecture before they become licensed--a B.Arch or an M.Arch. Licensing requirements vary from state to state. Some states require a degree from a school accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board (NAAB) .
Residential architects also need to complete internship hours to practice. The number of internship hours varies from state to state; aspiring architects usually complete their internship hours in three years. Architects also need to complete a licensing exam to practice legally in the United States.
Successful architects do well in physics, math, and design classes; they have a keen eye for design and posses a comprehensive understanding of the history of architecture.
Residential architects often enjoy competitive salaries, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20 percent of architects are self-employed. Residential architects in this position often have the flexibility to choose the types of project they want to work on, as well as the ability to take on as much--or as little--work as they like.
Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the field of architecture is growing faster than average through 2016, which means that most architects can expect stability in their jobs.
According to a 2006 study conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, architects made an average salary of around $65,000 annually; the highest-paid 10 percent in the field earned more than $104,000 a year. According to Residential Architecture Online, those working at the top architecture firms in the field--even those under the age of 45--can earn up to $220,000 a year.
When initially considering a residential architecture program, the time spent in school--and interning--before becoming an architect can sound daunting. After all, residential architects generally intern for three to five years before passing the exam and becoming a licensed architect.
However, it's a common misconception that interns are not paid. While in many fields, interns work for experience only, residential architecture interns actually make quite competitive salaries.
In a 2007 study conducted by Residential Architect Online, interns made salaries that increased steadily throughout their internship years. Intern salaries ranged from $34,543 annually in the first year to higher than $58,000 in the fourth year of interning.