Updated December 2023
Like the idea of making a living in the architecture field? Not interested in spending years in university?
You’re in luck: there are a variety of architecture careers that require neither a bachelor’s nor a master’s degree. In fact, you can get started as an architectural drafter, architectural technologist, or appraiser with just a college diploma.
In this post, we walk you through the details of each of these architecture careers, including job descriptions, salaries, and training requirements.
Compare all three roles and see which path is right for you.
ARCHITECTURE CAREER #1: ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTER
Architectural drafters are the people who produce the detailed blueprints and drawings for building projects.
They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to turn an architect’s concept into working plans that construction crews can follow to build the structure.
Drafters don’t typically design buildings themselves. However, with experience, they can offer design advice or recommendations.
According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, the median salary for drafters is about $60,000.
The most knowledgeable and experienced drafters in the country make more than $87,000.
A college program in computer-aided design and drafting can teach you the necessary skills. Most relevant diploma programs take between one and two years.
You can expect to get a thorough grounding in building codes and construction techniques, along with lots of practice using drafting software to create 2D drawings and 3D models.
You can also choose a program that focuses on eco-friendly buildings. Sustainable architecture training covers all the fundamentals mentioned above plus things like energy efficiency and green building materials and technologies.
ARCHITECTURE CAREER #2: ARCHITECTURAL TECHNOLOGIST
Architectural technologists are responsible for figuring out how to put a building together.
They analyze site requirements and building codes, then prepare specifications, drawings, and models. They also verify that a building meets applicable laws and standards.
Architectural technologists typically have more autonomy than drafters. In most cases, an architectural technologist can independently draw up the plans for a new house.
However, larger projects like malls or apartment buildings require the services of a licensed architect.
Robbie Hart became a freelance architectural technician after graduating from the sustainable architecture program at Herzing College. He told us his goal was to open his own residential architectural design firm. "After gaining two years of work experience in the field, I can apply to become an architectural technologist—which would allow me to stamp building drawings independently.”
Job Bank data shows that architectural technicians and technologists in Canada make a median salary of around $62,000.
The highest-paid techs in the country make over $101,000.
Titles like "professional technologist" and "certified engineering technologist" are protected, meaning that you can't use them unless you're registered with a provincial regulatory authority.
However, you can work as an architectural technologist as long as you don't use one of the reserved titles. This is different from architects, who are strictly regulated and must be members of their professional association.
ARCHITECTURE CAREER #3: APPRAISER
Appraisers provide an objective analysis of the value of a residential or commercial property.
They weigh factors like the property’s location, size, age, and state of maintenance. They also consider local market conditions and sales trends.
Appraisers produce reports for many different kinds of clients, including insurance companies and lending agencies. Many people get an appraisal when they want to enlarge a building, negotiate a mortgage, settle a divorce, or gauge the income potential of a rental property.
In Canada, appraisers earn around $79,000 as a median salary. That’s according to the Job Bank.
At the high end, appraisers make more than $149,000.
You don’t need a university degree to start working as an appraiser. College training in architecture can teach you what you need to know.
Note, though, that “chartered appraiser” is a protected title in Quebec. You can only use that title if you are a member of the Ordre des évaluateurs agréés du Québec (OEAQ), and for that you do need a bachelor’s degree.
TAKE A SHORTER ROUTE TO AN ARCHITECTURE CAREER
Looking for practical architecture training that can get you job-ready quickly?
Explore the sustainable architecture diploma program at Herzing College. It takes just 24 months to complete and includes a 13-week internship for real work experience.
Students get comprehensive training in design and drafting along with green building design principles and environmentally responsible construction techniques.
Our grads are qualified for a wide range of positions at architecture firms, appraisal companies, property development firms, and construction companies.
Still have questions? An admissions advisor can provide details about course schedules, career options, application procedures, and more.
Click below to learn more about the program and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!