Study Residential Planning: Degrees, Diplomas & Online Training Info

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Diploma and associate degree programs in residential planning can lead to careers in the construction or architecture industries. Get the truth about the requirements, courses and online options, and find out what you can do with your training.
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Residential Planning Diplomas and Associates: Degrees at a Glance

Residential planning is the conceptualization and design of residential facilities, such as homes or apartment buildings. This career field is closely tied to construction and architecture, and you'll often work with professionals from those industries. While some postsecondary programs specific to residential planning are available, you'll have a much better chance of finding programs related to architecture or construction that include residential planning as part of their curricula.

With a degree in an area related to residential planning, you'll have several career options. A potential career is as a construction or building inspector. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), these individuals ensure that a project is up to code and meets specifications. The BLS indicated that job opportunities for these individuals were expected to increase 18% from 2010-2020. With an associate degree and experience, you may consider becoming a construction manager. The BLS reported that these professionals were projected to see employment increase 17% from 2010-2020.

Diploma Associate
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in entering the residential construction industry People looking for mid-level positions in the construction and architectural industries
Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary) - Carpenter ($40,000)*
- Roofer ($35,000)*
- Construction or building inspector ($53,000 - position typically requires experience in addition to diploma)*
- Career paths for the diploma also apply to the associate degree
- Architectural and civil drafter ($47,000)*
- Construction manager ($84,000 - position typically requires experience in addition to a degree)*
Time to Completion About 1 year, full-time 2 years, full-time
Common Graduation Requirements About 40 undergraduate credits - At least 62 credits
- Design project or cooperative education requirement
Prerequisites High school diploma or GED High school diploma or GED
Online Availability Yes, but rare Yes

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures)

Diplomas in Residential Planning

Diploma programs specific to residential planning are uncommon. Instead, training in residential planning is usually offered as part of diploma programs in carpentry. These programs typically consist of several classes and can be completed in 3 semesters. You will receive hands-on instruction, learning to utilize basic building materials and hand tools to construct residential structures. The carpentry skills you obtain in this program can lead to careers in carpentry, roofing or other areas of construction.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Diploma programs can be completed in just 1 year
  • Can lead to entry-level careers in the carpentry industry, which has excellent job prospects*
  • Opportunity to learn through practical experience in cooperative learning environments

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2010-2020 projections)

Cons

  • Traditional and online programs specific to residential planning are rare
  • Construction workers, including carpenters and roofers, are at higher-than-average risk of injury
  • Carpentry programs usually only offer 1 course in residential planning

Courses and Requirements

In a diploma program in carpentry, you can expect to take about 10 courses in topics like construction safety, carpentry techniques, blueprint reading, building codes and, of course, residential planning. These programs' curricula also tend to incorporate cooperative education requirements, which allow you to gain hands-on training in the construction industry while earning college credit. Depending on the specific program you attend, you might be able to select elective courses in topics like technical drafting.

Online Programs

Due to the hands-on training involved in carpentry education, diploma programs in carpentry are generally not available entirely online; however, schools may allow you to complete a portion of your coursework online. Be wary of unaccredited schools offering entirely-online programs in carpentry, because these schools might be diploma mills or may not meet national education standards. While you might not be able to earn a carpentry diploma online, distance-learning programs in residential planning, though very rare, are available.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Gaining additional experience with the technology common to the residential construction and planning industries may be helpful. In addition to the training mandated by a program, you may want to look for instruction in project management software, computer-aided drafting (CAD), accounting programs and spreadsheets. You could also consider earning professional certification through an organization like the American Institute of Constructors and the Constructor Certification Commission. This organization offers 2 certification programs for construction workers at the associate and professional levels.

Associate Degrees in Residential Planning

If you are interested in an associate degree, it may be hard to find a program specifically in residential planning. Potential programs that you may want to consider are architectural technology and construction technology. Often, these 2-year programs cover topics in or related to residential planning and can familiarize you with many concepts important to the field, including safety and drafting.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Prepares you for mid-management positions in the architecture and construction industries
  • Opportunity to pursue additional interests with elective coursework
  • Broader learning that incorporates general education requirements

Cons

  • Management positions still require extensive experience in the field
  • Associate degree holders will be competing for management jobs with bachelor's degree holders, who employers commonly prefer
  • Associate of Applied Science degrees often do not transfer to 4-year bachelor's programs

Courses and Requirements

Associate degrees in architectural and construction technology usually come in the form of Associate of Applied Science programs. Along with residential planning, some of the courses you may take include cost estimating, construction materials and methods, building codes, architectural drafting and surveying. Unlike diploma programs, associate programs usually include general education requirements, such as coursework in math and communications. In addition to the coursework requirements, you may have to complete a design project or a cooperative work experience in order to graduate.

Online Programs

Completely online programs in and related to construction technology are available. These programs are offered through not-for-profit and for-profit schools. Since some of these schools are for-profit, you may want to review the curriculum to ensure that it will meet your professional interests. Online programs in this major are particularly geared toward working construction professionals who need flexible course schedules. Coursework is similar to traditional in-class programs, though these distance learning options do not allow you to gain hands-on, practical instruction.

Getting Ahead with This Degree

Similar to individuals in diploma programs, you may want to consider receiving advanced training in CAD programs or other software. You could additionally consider gaining experience with software that is specific to your prospective career field. For example, a construction estimator may need to be experienced with scheduling and cost-estimating software. After earning your associate degree and gaining management experience in the field, you could earn professional certification, such as the Certified Construction Manager designation awarded by the Construction Management Association of America.

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