Associate's Degree in Architecture: Description, Jobs & Salary

An associate's degree in architecture or a related field can lead to a career as an architectural drafter at an architectural firm or construction company. Read on to learn more about what you'll learn in an associate's degree program and the kinds of jobs you can get after graduation.

What Will I Learn in an Architecture Associate's Degree Program?

Two-year degrees in architecture and closely related areas are generally available as Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science programs. These degree programs teach students about the spatial requirements and physical execution of drawing up architectural plans. Courses focus on two- and three-dimensional manual architectural drawing as well as computer-aided design, otherwise known as CAD. CAD drafting is a common career choice for graduates of these programs, so required courses tend to place much emphasis on drafting technology and the different programs that can be used to make CAD drawings. Foundational courses in architecture teach students about the history and evolution of building design. Students will also learn the ins and outs of the construction process. Mandatory courses in this area typically cover construction project management, cost estimating, and building materials.

In order to graduate from an associate's degree program, students typically must complete multiple design studio courses, giving them a solid base of hands-on experience in architectural drafting before entering the workforce. Exact program requirements vary from school to school, but most curricula consist of approximately 60 credits, which can generally be completed in two years of full-time study. Though some students enter the architectural industry after graduating, associate's degree programs also prepare students to transfer to a four-year program.

Architecture Associate's DegreesPrograms cover drafting, design, and construction management
CAD Associate's DegreesIn-depth studies on computer-aided design software used in architectural drafting
Job OpportunitiesAssociate's degrees lead to careers as architectural drafters
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 8% increase for architectural and civil drafters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Will I Learn in a CAD Associate's Degree Program?

If you want to focus your education and eventual career path on architectural drafting, you may also consider enrolling in an Associate of Applied Science in Computer-Aided Design Technology (CAD) program. Some schools offer programs specifically devoted to architectural CAD drafting, and others may allow you to declare architectural drafting as an area of focus to supplement your CAD studies. As in the architectural programs described above, students in CAD programs will learn about the spatial and conceptual elements of architectural drawing and the material, operational, and financial elements of construction. CAD programs also include very detailed education in computer drafting software, teaching students how to take a draft from a creative concept or a list of material specifications into a technically and structurally sound CAD design. Students will learn how to use basic and advanced functions of widely used CAD software programs, such as CREO, Inventor, and SolidWorks to prepare 2D and 3D architectural drafts. Topics commonly covered in CAD-related courses and degree programs include:

  • Geometric dimensioning
  • Multi-view drawings
  • Structural and electrical plotting graphics
  • Assembly modeling
  • Mechanical piping

What Kinds of Jobs Will These Degrees Lead To?

An associate's degree in architecture or computer-aided drafting can lead to a career as an architectural drafter. Drafters typically work in architectural firms and are responsible for drawing up architects' plans for new buildings. In order to do this, they typically use computer software and design drafting concepts that are covered in both architectural and CAD associate's degree programs. Many schools that offer such programs state on their websites that earning an associate's degree will prepare students for careers as drafters in architecture firms. Architectural drafting positions advertised on job boards like often require that applicants know how to use one or several AutoCAD systems. Although many architectural drafting classified ads state that experience in the industry is required, equivalent education may also be a sufficient way for an applicant to get a foot in the door.

What Is The Career Outlook for Associate's Degree Holders?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for all drafters was $55,550 as of May 2018. This works out to a median hourly wage of $26.71. The BLS forecasted that architectural and civil drafters would experience a 8% growth rate in the decade between 2016 and 2026, which is approximately the average growth projection for all industries over the same time span.