Updated December 2023
Interested in architecture and design? Want to learn how to create building plans and blueprints, and play a key role in the construction process?
It sounds like you're leaning toward a career in architectural drafting.
Architectural drafters use specialized software to transform an architect's concept into functional designs, drawings, and guidelines that builders can follow.
And they earn a good wage for their expertise. According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, drafting technicians make a median salary of about $60,000. The highest-paid drafters in the country make over $87,000.
So how can you become an architectural drafter? What exactly is required to get into this field?
In this post, we take you step-by-step through everything you need to know. Find out what the role involves, how to get started, and where this career can take you.
WHAT DOES AN ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTER DO?
Architectural drafters develop detailed technical drawings for construction projects.
They take the rough sketches or concepts from an architect and turn them into precise plans that show exactly how to build a particular structure.
If you become an architectural drafter, your responsibilities will include tasks like:
- Interpreting blueprints and project requirements
- Using a computer-aided design (CAD) program to create 2D and 3D construction drawings
- Alerting the rest of the team to any potential design problems
- Reviewing finished drawings to make sure they comply with building codes and regulations
- Communicating with clients and builders
- Preparing cost estimates
- Applying for permits
Herzing College drafting instructor Roberto Romano says graduates typically start out as junior designers or drafters."This work usually involves doing corrections to drawings, preparing shop drawings in AutoCAD, and converting files over," he says.
"A junior designer is often responsible for answering client emails and calls, keeping clients updated on projects, maintaining logs, bills of materials, and other documentation."
WHAT ARE SOME CAREER OPTIONS FOR ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTERS?
As an architectural drafter, you could work for an architecture, construction, or engineering firm. You could even work as a freelancer for several different firms.
You could create drawings for many types of construction projects.
Or you could specialize in a certain type of structure, such as commercial developments (offices, stores, etc.), residential buildings (houses, condos, etc.), or municipal buildings (schools, hospitals, etc.)
Roberto says there's room for advancement in the drafting field. "If you do the work well, and your employer appreciates your efficiency and work ethic, there are definitely ways to move up. A junior drafter can get promoted to senior drafter, and even transfer into the design department."
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME AN ARCHITECTURAL DRAFTER?
It all depends on the training path you choose.
You can learn the necessary skills through a university degree program in architecture. That takes four years of study beyond high school.
But if you take an architectural drafting course at the college level, you can become an architectural drafter in two years or even less.
For example, the accelerated drafting program from Herzing College takes just 16 months to complete.
Diploma programs are shorter than degrees because they don't include general education courses or spend much time on the history or theory of architecture. Instead, they focus on helping students develop the practical skills they need to land their first job as an architectural drafter.
WHAT WILL A COLLEGE DRAFTING PROGRAM TEACH YOU?
A college drafting program teaches architectural standards and basic drafting principles.
You'll also get lots of hands-on practice with different software packages commonly used by drafters in the architecture and engineering industries. These include:
- 3D Studio Max
- Autodesk Inventor
A good drafting program also includes an internship. That gives you a chance to work alongside industry pros and get valuable experience for your resume even before you graduate.
Roberto says the emphasis on software and hands-on training helps graduates learn the skills employers want."Drafting students get a very good foundation in software, which is key to getting hired as a drafter. Even if the company uses a different software, graduates should be able to pick it up very quickly," he says.
"Students learn by doing. Hands-on projects teach them a very marketable range of skills, from time management and precision to teamwork and independent problem solving. By graduation, they are fully prepared for the real world of drafting."
EXPLORE THE DRAFTING PROGRAM from HERZING COLLEGE
Eager to start building the skills you need to become an architectural drafter? Consider the online computer-aided design and drafting program from Herzing College Montreal.
The accelerated version runs for just 16 months in total. The training can also be extended up to 24 months.
All students get real drafting experience through a 16-week internship at a local company.
Want more details? An admissions advisor can answer all your questions about classes, costs, and financial aid, and help you figure out if the drafting program is a good fit for you.
Click below for more information and to chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!