An architectural drafter is someone who understands both the technology needed to make models and technical drawings, and the creativity and design necessary to create new buildings, interior spaces, and products. To become an architectural drafter or another kind of drafter and designer, you’ll need the right education to help you learn the technical skills and the software as well as how to communicate design ideas. To find out everything you need to know about this career path, check out the information below.
Is There Demand for Trained Architectural Drafters?
As long as there are new buildings designed and built, interiors redesigned and reworked, and new products developed and manufactured, there will be a place for drafters. Someone is always needed to turn designers’ visions into a workable technical drawing or model. As the economy grows, so will the demand for these professionals.
Not just anyone can do this job; it requires someone who has been trained in design and the right software for the job. Overall, the fields of architecture and engineering are growing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which means more positions should be available in the future for people who draft and model designs and technical ideas.
What Does an Architectural Drafter Do?
If you have ever seen a classic blueprint used by architects and contractors, you have seen the work of an architectural drafter. If you want to become an architectural drafter, this could be you, taking the designs of an architect, engineer, or designer, and translating them into a technical drawing, a three-dimensional model, or a computer model that workers can use to make the final product or building.
An architectural drafter should know how to create these drawings and models by hand but also through a variety of drafting software programs, like CAD. The drawings and models don’t just look nice. Drafters use mathematics to create models to scale so that contractors, engineers, and others can read the drawings and understand what to do to turn the design into something real. The crucial process of creating a link between design and creation is what architectural drafters are responsible for.
The drafter not only needs to be able to create the models, by hand or by computer, but also must be able to communicate with architects and designers. They must be able to understand industry and design terminology and ideas to be able to put rough sketches, verbal descriptions, and written instructions together to create the final drawing or model.
How is an Architectural Drafter Different from an Architect?
The job of an architect and that of an architectural drafter is different, but related. These two professionals work together closely to create a final product that will be used to create something new. Architects are the designers behind buildings and new interior spaces. They design by sketching, using software, or simply describing their ideas. The drafter then takes those ideas and turns them into a model or technical drawing.
The drafter works together with the architect to solidify ideas, clarify the design, and finalize the drawing or model. The architectural drafter may even add ideas and designs to the project, under the supervision of the architect. A drafter may also work with other types of professionals, including engineers and product designers. A big difference between the architectural drafter and architect is level of education. A drafter can start working in the field with a certificate from a post-secondary institution, while an architect must have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree.
The Benefits of a Career as an Architectural Drafter
Becoming an architectural drafter is an admirable career goal. Many people who do this job enjoy it for a variety of reasons. Some people may be more suited to the job than others. For instance, architectural drafters require a lot of independent time working alone. It’s a great job for someone who enjoys working alone rather than at a role that engages with more people on the job. As a drafter you can expect to spend the majority of your time working on drawings and models with occasional consultations or discussions with an architect, designer, or engineer. Working independently is a benefit of the job for those who enjoy it.
Other reasons to choose this career include challenging daily work that is both technical and creative, comfortable working conditions, a good salary, and conventional, 40-hour per week working hours. Another benefit of the job is that there is plenty of room for specialization and growth. If you ever want to change from architectural drafting, you can switch to working with engineers, interior designers, or product designers. You also have the opportunity to use your job as a drafter to continue your education and advance into a design or architecture job.
Training and Education Requirements to Become an Architectural Drafter
Just one more benefit of getting into architectural drafting is that it does not require years of schooling or a bachelor’s degree. It is typical for candidates to have an associate’s degree or a certificate in drafting and design to land a job as an architectural drafter.
Some level of post-secondary education is required because there are specific, technical skills you need to learn to be able to do the job. There are multiple software programs, for instance, that you need to be competent in using, but you also need to learn some basic elements of design. These are things you can learn through a certificate or diploma program in drafting.
Traits You Need to Succeed as an Architectural Drafter
At a basic level, you need a certain education in order to become an architectural drafter. But you also need to have a certain set of skills and traits to excel in this career. Some you can learn and practice, but others are more inherent in your personality. For instance, you need to be able to work independently and to have the confidence to make decisions. Other traits that are important for a good architectural drafter are:
- Listening. You have to be able to listen to the instructions and ideas of the designer or architect whose designs you are putting into models and drawings.
- Attention to detail. This is a highly detail-oriented job that requires you pay attention to every last design element and measurement to do the job well.
- Design ability. Drafters often contribute to the design of buildings, spaces, and products, so you need to have a good eye for design elements and best practices.
- Collaboration. Although much of the work is done independently, an architectural drafter does often work with the architect or other designers to help shape and translate ideas and designs.
- Problem solving skills. Drafting is not always straightforward, so you need to be able to tackle and solve problems as they arise, sometimes independently but also while collaborating with others.
How Much Does an Architectural Drafter Make in Florida?
As compared to the minimal amount of higher education required to become an architectural drafter, this is a career in which you can earn a great living. With just a 16- or 18-month program, you can get a job and start working and earning sooner. The average annual salary for drafters in 2014 was $53,480, and the highest paid workers in the field were earning over $83,000. More specifically, architectural drafters earned an average salary of $51,640, while electrical drafters earned the most. There is room in this career to advance and earn the higher salaries with experience and more training.
In Florida specifically, there is great demand for architectural drafters because the construction industry is booming. As new buildings go up, drafters are needed to provide the technical drawings and models that get them built. Architectural drafters in the state earn an average annual salary of $49,440, and of course have the ability to earn more with experience and by continuing with training and earning advanced degrees.
Now that you have all the information on what it’s like to be an architectural drafter and what you need to do to get there, you are prepared to make the right decision for your future career. Now is a great time to check out architectural drafting programs available in Florida to learn more about your educational options. Contact these programs to get more information on enrollment, requirements, and how you can get started launching your exciting new career.