What Is the Difference Between a Contractor and an Architect?

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When you think about architecture, some of the most famous buildings and structures come to mind. This includes the Taj Mahal, the Coliseum, or the Eiffel Tower. Though you may know where these buildings are located, and when they were built, you may not know what it takes to construct one.

There are many different terms to know if you want to get into the specifics of architecture. Start by knowing the difference between a contractor and architect, two roles that are often confused for the same thing. Here’s we’ll break down the difference.

The Contractor

The contractor manages the actual construction of a building. This means they hire construction workers and subcontractors to fill out their team which builds the project. They work closely with the architect to solve problems quickly and efficiently.

In the United States, you do not necessarily need a degree or license to work as a contractor. However, pursuing a degree in construction management, or learning trades like carpentry, can help you secure a job. A contractors institute offers professional courses to help people pass contracting exams on the first try.

It is important to note that requirements for contractors vary from state to state. If you’re registered in one state as a contractor, that does not mean you are allowed to practice in another state. A contractor is a stable, in-demand job that gives people the opportunity to oversee the creation of an amazing building.

The Architect

The architect is with a project from the beginning. They are the creative vision behind a project, designing the structure. Their plan is the guideline for the rest of the project. An architect must also make sure their vision adheres to building codes, safety regulations, and other laws.

Aspiring architects must earn a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree to start off in their field. Their school must be accredited by the National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB). Upon completion of their degree, an architect must complete an internship and pass the Architect Registration Examination (ARE).

A good foundation in mathematics like algebra and geometry gives many people an advantage when studying to become an architect. The job requires both math skills and creativity to be successful.

Do You Need Both?

Architects and contractors work in tandem with one another on projects, so it is best to have both on the team. They work together to solve problems and find the best way to execute the architect’s vision. For full scale projects, it’s best to have both roles to round out the work.

It’s the architect’s job to lay out instructions clearly and carefully for the contractor, and be there whenever the contractor has questions. The contractor, in turn, provides a practical approach to a creative vision. They may make edits to a plan to help make a building more cohesive or keep it up to code.

The chemistry between the contractor and the architect is an important one. It is much like having two leads in a play or movie—chemistry is everything. The more successful a duo, the more beautiful a building can turn out to be. That’s why some contractors and architects work on many projects together throughout their careers.

In Conclusion

Contractors and architects are both dedicated roles in a construction project. They fill out different aspects of a construction plan. Both are necessary to build architecture that is both beautiful in function and form.

These aren’t the only two architecture jobs out there, though. There are many roles to fill, and each has their own requirements and licenses. Drafters, for example, may only need an associate’s degree to work. It’s never too late to learn what you want to do and achieve your goals.

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