What's the Difference Between an Architect and a Draftsman?

Find out the differences between architects and draftsmen. Get information on the educational and licensure requirements, salary and job duties of each career. Schools offering Building Information Modeling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Differences In a Nutshell

Architects design buildings of all types, from tiny houses to towering skyscrapers and everything in between. Draftsmen turn the architect's ideas into highly detailed, technical drawings used to construct the buildings. Differences in the requirements for each career are shown in the table below.

ArchitectDraftsman
Degree RequiredBachelor's degreeAssociate's degree
Educational Field of StudyArchitectureArchitectural drafting
Licensure/CertificationLicensure requiredNone
Training Required Architectural Experience ProgramNone
Job Growth (2016-2026)4%*7%(all drafters)*
Median Salary (2017)$78,470*$54,170 (all drafters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Differences in the Job Duties for Architects and Draftsmen?

Architects design and plan our built environment. They conceive of and design both the appearance and function of not only buildings and houses but also urban spaces and landscapes. Architects often specialize in one area such as housing, urban design, landscape design or another area. Draftsmen draw up the plans that make an architect's vision come to life. They draw out all the technical construction documents required to build the design.

What Are the Educational and Certification Requirements for Architects Versus Draftsmen?

You must have a license to practice architecture. Licensure requires a bachelor's degree from a program accredited by the NAAB (National Architecture Accrediting Board), completion of the AXP (Architectural Experience Program) and successfully passing the ARE (Architectural Registration Exam). The AXP (Architectural Experience Program) requires 3740 hours of on-the-job experience. Drafters typically will need a two-year associate's degree or a certificate from a technical or community college. There are no certification or licensure requirements for draftsmen.

What Is the Difference in Pay Between Architects and Draftsmen?

Architects typically earn more than drafters. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data from 2017 reports the majority of architects making between $47,480 and $134,610 per year, while draftsmen earned between $34,350 on the low end up to over $80,000 on the high end.

What Is the Job Outlook?

BLS data shows that job growth for architects is expected to be about 4% from 2016 to 2026. Drafter jobs in general are expected to grow about 7% for the same time period. Drafters with CAD training may have some of the best opportunities, according to the BLS.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers for Both Professions?

Related careers for architects include landscape architecture, marine architecture, interior design, and urban planning, among others. Related careers for draftsmen include architecture, engineering, and civil, electrical or mechanical engineering technology.

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