Architectural drafters produce detailed drawings which include the structural and architectural elements for buildings and a variety of structures such as homes and factories. Their drawings need to be complete and accurate since structures are built exactly as displayed on the drawings. Architectural drafters typically work for architect and construction companies and for companies that have engineering or development departments. Some architectural drafters specialize in commercial or residential structures and some also specialize in specific types of building materials.
Senior architectural drafters typically produce the final drawings. The drawings include the plans of the structure and all the details for the construction of the building. Junior drafters work under the supervision of senior drafters and create plans and details that the senior drafters have developed.
Most architectural drafters use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) systems to produce their drawings. The CADD systems allow a building to be displayed three-dimensionally. In addition, numerous versions of the drawings can easily be produced and adjustments can be made quickly. By utilizing CADD systems, drafters are able to electronically store their drawings, which allows the drawings to be printed and easily viewed. Although CADD systems are excellent tools, drafters still need a solid foundation in traditional drafting skills such as performing detailed work with precision.
- Create detailed drawings
- Operate CADD equipment
- Represent architects on construction sites
- Analyze building codes and by-laws
- Layout and plan interior room arrangements
- Produce cost estimates
- Review space and site requirements
- Determine instructions and procedures
- Check dimensions of materials
- Study the technical implications of architect's design concepts
Drafters typically work in comfortable offices. They often work with architects and other drafters. Most of their time is spent working at computer terminals performing detailed work. Due to the nature of the work, they should have good visualization skills. Being able to differentiate between lines, forms and shapes is important in the profession. Good communication skills are also helpful. Also, the vast majority of drafters work full-time.
The employment outlook for architectural drafters is fair. Architectural and civil drafters typically comprise over 40 percent of the total amount of drafting jobs. Drafters with a minimum of two years of post-secondary training that also have experience with CADD systems and have good technical skills may have the best opportunities to acquire employment in the field.
Growth in the profession may be stimulated by industrial growth and also by drafters performing tasks usually given to architects. The demand for drafters is created primarily in industries that are sensitive to the cyclical changes of the economy. Also, improvements in CADD systems make simple tasks easier to perform which may reduce the demand for lower skilled drafters. In addition, outsourcing of drafting work may increase due to the availability of sending CADD files via the Internet.
Typically, drafters begin their careers as tracers and advance into the position of junior drafter. Those with several years of experience and good skills have the opportunity to become senior drafters. Senior architectural drafters with leadership skills may become supervisors of other drafters. In addition, some in the profession are self-employed.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median yearly earnings for civil and architectural drafters in 2006 was $41,960. The top ten percent earned over $63,310 while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $27,010.
Architectural Drafting Degrees, Certification, and Licensing
Architectural drafters need to be highly skilled at drafting and design and be proficient with CADD systems. Training is offered by vocational schools and community colleges. Two-year associate degrees are available in drafting. The quality of training in these settings may vary.
Most four-year colleges do not provide degrees in drafting. However, the majority of four-year colleges provide college courses in architecture, computer science, engineering and mathematics which can be useful when seeking employment as a drafter. Many colleges include CADD classes in their architecture programs. Also, a certification program for drafters is provided by the American Design Drafting Association. Students seeking a career in architectural drafting may want to contact prospective employers and ask for a list of the schools they prefer.
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology
- American Design Drafting Association
- American Institute of Architecture Students
The primary employers of architectural drafters are architect firms and construction companies.
Schools for Architectural And Civil Drafters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.