How to Start a Career in Architectural Drafting in 5 Steps

Architectural draftsmen prepare detailed drawings of buildings and other structures illustrating specific dimensions and features. Some technical training is required to become an architectural draftsman, usually in the form of a 2-year associate's degree. Training in computer-aided design is increasingly important. Schools offering Building Information Modeling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is An Architectural Drafter?

Architectural drafters create drawings and blueprints for projects. They receive data from architects and engineers and incorporate this information into the technical drawings needed for the project. This work is mainly completed using computer-aided design (CAD) software, so drafters should have training in these programs. Drafters may need to incorporate elements into the design based on their knowledge, and they work closely with architects and engineers throughout the process to verify specifications, materials and other information relevant to the project. You can learn some additional details about this career in the table below:

Degree RequiredAssociate's degree
Education Field of StudyDrafting
Key ResponsibilitiesUse CAD software to create technical drawings and designs
Licensure RequirementsVoluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024)*-3% (for architectural and civil drafters)
Mean Salary (2016)*$54,290 (for architectural and civil drafters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Research Architectural Drafting Career Duties and Education

Architectural drafters use sketches, notes and dimensions from architects and engineers to create detailed drawings used for reference throughout the design and construction process. Drafters need to have knowledge of engineering principles, mathematics, building materials and construction techniques. Some architectural drafters specialize in a type of structure, such as residential or commercial. Others specialize in materials or construction methods, such as steel, wood or masonry.

Step 2: Complete an Architectural Drafting Training Program

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS),, the best job prospects exist for architectural draftsmen with two years of training, such as through a 2-year associate's degree in drafting and design technology. Students receive training in architectural principles, construction techniques and drafting skills. Coursework might include computer-aided drafting, 3-dimensional modeling, construction methods and construction materials.

Step 3: Consider Certification

While not required, professional organizations, such as the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA),, offer certification to architectural drafters that may demonstrate to employers a higher level of professionalism and knowledge. ADDA certification is granted to those who pass their examination. Applicants are tested on concepts such as object representation, knowledge of symbols, basic geometric construction and drafting standards.

Step 4: Find a Job

The BLS reported in 2015 that of the 95,280 professionals employed as architectural and civil drafters, 71,240 drafting jobs are at architectural, engineering or other related services firms. These organizations generally provide construction or engineering related services on a contract basis. Jobs for architectural and civil drafters are expected to decrease by 3% from 2014-2024, partly due to advancing technology (like computer-aided drafting and design) that replaces many of drafters' job duties and allows architects and engineers to use these programs as well.

Also reported by the BLS, architectural and civil drafters earned a mean annual wage of $54,290 as of 2016. The highest paying industry that year was the electrical equipment and component manufacturing sector, paying an average salary of $76,550.

Step 5: Advance Your Career

Architectural draftsmen typically start off in junior roles under the supervision of more experienced draftsmen. As they prove their abilities, they may be promoted into higher-level roles providing management and supervision. Architectural draftsmen may consider continuing their education to become licensed professional architects or engineers.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Civil engineering technicians are professionals who work with engineers on projects. They may assist with the planning, design and building of projects including bridges and highways. Like architectural drafters, they are required to have an associate's degree. Surveying and mapping technicians is another closely related career. These technicians do not necessarily need any postsecondary training and focus on gathering data that is used to make maps of the Earth. Architects and engineers are also similar careers and both develop designs for projects and are required to have a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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