Architectural Illustrator: Online Certificate and Diploma Info

Get info about online programs in architectural illustration. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

Essential Information

Architectural illustrators are visual artists who create 2-D drawings and 3-D models to show clients how a project design may look in real life. Training programs for architectural illustrators are rare, particularly online. However, there are online architectural drafting certificate programs, which contain classes related to architectural illustration.

Programs resulting in a Certificate of Completion in Architectural Drafting can be taken fully online. Students learn about AutoCAD, building infrastructure, architectural drafting software and construction methods. Graduates can apply for work as architectural illustrators or drafters. To complete these programs online, students will need access to CAD software.

Architectural Illustrator v. Architectural Drafter

An architectural illustrator is a professional artist who depicts the designs for a future building or architectural modification in accurate detail. The role of the illustrator is to communicate the plans of the architect to a client, including the appearance and size of the project in various stages of completion. These visual artists work with both 2-dimensional images and 3-dimensional models.

Architectural drafters are concerned with the technical details of architectural designs rather than the appearance. Some architectural artists provide both services. Architectural drafting programs are more commonly found online.

Certificate in Architectural Drafting

Architectural drafting certificate programs introduce students to the tools and computer software used in modern drafting. Students learn drawing techniques, drafting terminology and dimensioning.

Information and Requirements

An online certificate program in architectural drafting can often be completed in a year or less. There are no educational prerequisites beyond a high school diploma, but students may wish to have some previous study in algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Experience in construction and art is also useful. Certificate programs consist solely of core courses with no general education requirements.

Program participants need access to the Internet. Current browsers and operating systems are recommended. Personal computers should be capable of playing video and audio files, and students will need word processing and image editing software. Some classes require a webcam. Schools may have additional software requirements for security and file management. The school may provide some physical drafting tools or software as part of the course materials.

Common Classes

Classes teach students the basics of architectural design and construction plans. Students use computer and traditional hand-drawn methods of rendering architectural designs. Many classes make use of computer-aided design (CAD) software for architectural drafting.

AutoCAD Introduction

In this course, students learn the fundamental functions of AutoCAD, a 2-D and 3-D design software program used in architectural drafting. This class covers the commands, references and styles of the program. Students also determine how to plot, layer, render, digitize and dimension objects.

Using Blueprints

Students learn to read blueprints to plan residential construction. This course explains the symbols, lines and other instructions commonly embedded in blueprints.

Graphic Drawing

This course teaches students to describe the geometric concepts of engineering design through drawing. The class focuses on spatial relations around lines, planes, intersections and principal shapes.


Career Information

Those who have earned a certificate or diploma in architectural drafting can go on to become drafters or illustrators. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), architectural drafters had an average annual wage of $53,470 for May 2015. The BLS also reports that artists employed in the field of architecture and engineering earned an average annual salary of $74,710 in May 2015.

Continuing Education Information

Architectural illustrators can continue study of drafting in an associate's or bachelor's degree in architectural drafting. They can also focus on developing their artistic skills through fine arts programs in drawing or painting. Working illustrators can join non-profit organizations such as the American Society of Architectural Illustrators to network with others in the field or discover more about the industry.

For students who choose to enroll in an online certificate in architectural drafting, they will gain introductory level skills in the field, allowing them to possibly pursue careers or to enroll in more advanced degrees.


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