Pros & Cons of Becoming a Building Design Technician: Should You Go For It?

Updated November, 2020.

Every career has its ups and downs. No matter which profession you choose, there'll be parts of the job you won't exactly love.

It's all about finding that perfect balance—a career you feel passionate about, and are good at, with only a few challenging aspects you don't mind dealing with. Actually, to be honest, that's a pretty tall order for most people!

Especially when you don't know much about the actual day-to-day realities of the occupation you're interested in. Most students go through this issue, including people considering becoming an architectural drafter or building design technician.

What does it really mean to work in this field? What's the training process like? What should you know before you start school?

Here are a few pros and cons every student should consider. Is building design your ideal career? Let's find out if you should take the plunge.


Pro: building Design Training is very Quick to Complete

This is an obvious advantage for most students. If you're looking for an alternative to a 4-year university degree, a building design diploma is a strong contender.

You can complete this program in as little as 12 months. In less than one year, you've got the skills needed to go straight into an entry-level role at an architectural firm or design company.

From there, you'll gain experience, learn additional skills, and gradually take on more responsibility.

College-level training is designed to help you get your foot in the door.  From there, how far you climb depends on your own hard work and talent.


Con: Drafting Can be Physically Demanding

When we asked Herzing's Building Design instructor (Jacob Allderdice) about the most challenging aspect of drafting, he immediately highlighted physical demands:

"Most challenging is the physical aspect of drafting work: long hours at a computer or drafting table will take their toll on one’s back!"


You'll need to be vigilant about taking regular breaks, and be sure to fit some exercise into your routine, to counteract the physical strains of sitting at a computer for long periods.


Pro: You can Specialize in Different Areas of Architectural Design

Building design technicians work on many different kinds of projects. Some specialize in residential design and renovation projects. Others work on commercial buildings—like retail stores, restaurants, and hotels.

There are also opportunities in the institutional sector, designing structures like hospitals. Or you could work on museums, schools, or municipal buildings. From millwork, to kitchen design, to landscaping, there are many areas of specialization to explore.

And that's not all. There are also opportunities to focus your talents within certain phases of the design process. Instructor, Jacob Allderdice, says,

"Each student has strengths upon which to build. A background in computers will help students who wish to focus on the technical aspects of a design office.

A talented artist will likely find employment in rendering and presentation, while a confident, verbal person could be employed on the sales and development side of the profession."


Quality building design training introduces students to each stage of the design and drafting process. By the end of the diploma, you will have a clear sense of where your unique talents lie, and which kinds of jobs you'd love to pursue.

See the whole interview with our instructor, Jacob Allderdice, right here: Herzing's Building Design Instructor Has Advice for New Students


Con: You'll Have to Manage Tight Deadlines

Everybody wants their architectural plans done yesterday. But this is highly detailed, meticulous work that takes time to do well.

Building design technicians must take into consideration what the clients wants, what the budget allows, plus building codes that must be followed to the letter.

Your designs will also need approval from the supervising architect/designer and client—which often leads to additional requests for revision—and extra work to squeeze in before the deadline.

Getting projects done on schedule can be really challenging. And part of your job will be to oversee the building process once your design is approved and ready to go.

That means ensuring the construction team stays on track as well—so the building, extension, or renovation gets done on time.

One thing's for sure: you'll need to be very well-organized to excel in this role.


Pro: You Can Become Your Own Boss

Think you might like to go freelance one day, and start your own architectural design business? A number of designers go this route.

You work with a variety of clients, make your own hours, and set your own rates. Freelancing is ideal for many reasons—but it's not for the faint of heart!

You'll need a special set of skills to run and manage your own building design business. We spoke with a designer who's been freelancing for the past 5 years in Burlington, Ontario, to get her take.

She says she absolutely loves working for herself, but has a few words of advice for anyone considering this path:

"Freelancing in architectural design is fun and exciting—and it's great to work for yourself—but it's not for everyone. You really need to know your stuff, because there won't be anyone around to ask for help.

You'll also need to organize things like liability insurance, bookkeeping, and will have to work hard to separate your work and home life."

Looking for more information on starting a career in architectural design? Have questions about training, job options, or how to get started?

Explore the Building Design Technician program at Herzing College Toronto. Chat live with an Advisor right now, or click below to browse courses and training information. We're here to help!

Explore the Building Design Technician Program


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