Difference Between Building Designer & Architect

Oct 20, 2021

Comparing Building Designers to Architects

Building designers are concerned with the scale, design and security of a building or structure that he or she designs. An architect must consider form and function when he or she prepares their scaled plans. Below is a comparison of these two building trades with some vital information on both.

Job Title Education Requirements Median Salary* (2019) Job Growth* (2018-2028)
Building Designer Associate's degree with architectural drafting training $56,340 (for all architectural & civil drafters) 2% (for all architectural & civil drafters)
Architect Bachelor's degree; licensure $80,750 8%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Responsibilities of Building Designers vs. Architects

Generally, building designers and architects design buildings, residences, factories, and other structures. They both design and complete drafts of what the structure should look like. Building designers often meet with clients to determine what the client needs and what they want to see. The designer then creates a draft that meets those needs and concepts. Architects make sure that what the building designer put together on paper is functional, works and meets building specifications.

Building Designers

Building designers work alongside architects and need to be creative in their approach to design. They need to be able to interpret what a client tells them and turn those ideas into creative structure drafts. Working knowledge of building codes and building industry standards is crucial. Building designers should have extensive experience in math, physical science and computer-aided drafting. Designers must be prepared to alter plans as they go and be ready to revise drafts depending on a client's need.

Job responsibilities of a building designer include:

  • Consulting with clients to determine building use, plans, and size
  • Making suggestions about physical look of the building to interiors to how to stay within budget
  • Presenting preliminary and finalized designs
  • Assisting clients find contractors and/or construction companies


Architects must graduate from an accredited institution with a bachelor's to start. Most go on to earn a master's degree and pass the Architect Registration Examination. Architects have the specialized education to go along with the artistic creativity to not only design buildings but to also prepare building specifications. They work closely with drafters, contractors and building inspectors making sure the structure meets all city and state codes. They are educated and trained to take charge of the construction of a building from the initial design stage to the hammering of the final nail.

Job responsibilities of an architect include:

  • Discussing all design strategies with clients, design team members, and construction managers
  • Giving preliminary estimates of costs, labor and building times
  • Visiting the worksites periodically to check work and meeting schedules
  • Preparing scaled drawings using freehand art or computer-aided drafting programs
  • Stay abreast of new zoning laws and regulations; architectural trends; and design products

Related Careers

Mechanical engineering technicians, like building designers, are design leaders who work to help engineers develop and create a variety of products like tools and engines. Architects often take on the design and construction of a structure much like a civil engineers design and build roads, bridges, and dams for the public and private sectors.

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