Architectural Drawing Degree and Certificate Program Information

Aspiring architectural drafters might complete a certificate or associate's degree program in architectural design and drafting or a bachelor's degree program in architectural design with courses in drawing and drafting.

Essential Information

Architectural drafters produce drawings that provide visual guidelines for the construction of new buildings or additions to existing ones. Enrollees in an architectural drafting program learn AutoCAD and construction practices as well as freehand drawing techniques. Students in Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Architectural Design and Drafting programs explore commercial building codes and structural systems. They are taught to apply their competencies in business settings. Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Architectural Design programs may require aspiring CAD technicians and detailers to develop portfolio projects that demonstrate their grasp of the material. All of these programs include classroom and studio hours.

A high school diploma or GED certificate is required for enrollment in all programs.

Certificate in Architectural Drafting

Certificate programs are designed for students who want to train for entry-level employment or further education in the field of architecture. Program lengths vary; however, most require between 30-40 hours of classroom and design studio work. Areas of focus typically include basic architectural drafting, drawing and principles of computer-aided design (CAD).

Classes generally provide learners with an introduction to the architectural field and basic design and drafting concepts. Students can gain theoretical and hands-on knowledge of freehand drawing and CAD in the production of construction design documents. Course subjects that might comprise the curriculum include:

  • Principles of architecture
  • Freehand drawing
  • Introduction to AutoCAD
  • Commercial construction drawing
  • Construction practices and documents

Associate of Applied Science in Architectural Design and Drafting

In these 2-year programs, students develop design and technical skills in architectural drafting for use in the residential and commercial building design industry. Emphasis is placed on CAD and freehand drawing.

An associate's program generally stresses the roles and responsibilities of architectural drafters and the application of their skills in a variety of commercial and residential construction settings. Possible subjects covered in the curriculum include:

  • Introduction to architectural drawing
  • Structural systems
  • Introduction to CAD
  • Commercial building codes
  • Materials and methods of construction

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Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Design

In these 4-year programs, students explore advanced architectural design concepts and their application in commercial and residential construction. They might delve into topics such as freehand and technical drawing and graphic visualization and presentation as means to develop and represent design ideas.

Bachelor's degree programs generally include classroom lectures and design studio work where students exchange ideas and interact with both peers and faculty. Course topics may include:

  • Drawing studio
  • Design drawing
  • Computer-aided residential drawings
  • Architectural sketching
  • CAD and working drawings

Popular Career Options

Graduates usually are equipped to seek entry-level positions in architectural design or a closely related field. Students also may choose to pursue further education in architecture. Some career options include:

  • CAD technician
  • Draftsman
  • Detailer

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in May of 2015 that architectural and civil drafters jobs numbered 95,280 nationwide. Job opportunities were expected to be brightest for individuals with at least two years of postsecondary training, along with CAD experience. In 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for architectural and civil drafters was $50,710.

Career Information for Graduates

As of 2015, the architectural, engineering and related services industry employed the most architectural and civil drafters. During the same time, the top-paying industries for these professionals were scientific research and development services, followed by electrical equipment and component manufacturing, according to the BLS.

There are three educational options for undergraduates who are interested in architectural drawing: certificate programs that provide a basic overview, AAS programs that are focused on industrial applications, and BA programs that cover a wider range of topics in architectural design.

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