Become an Architectural Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Mar 05, 2020

Learn how to become an architectural technician. Research the education, certification information and experience required for starting a career in architectural drafting.

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Architectural Technicians

Architectural technicians, also known as architectural drafters, create structural designs and plans for residential or commercial projects. They tend to work closely with architects, engineers, and other relevant professionals when visiting job sites and choosing construction materials. Architectural technicians draft by hand or with industry-specific computer-aided design (CAD) or building information modeling (BIM) software.

Degree Level Some postsecondary education typically necessary; bachelor's degree may be required
Degree Field Architecture, drafting, engineering or related program
Certification Voluntary professional certification is available
Experience Varies; at least 1-2 years of related drafting experience required
Key Skills Critical-thinking, time-management skills as well as the ability to pay attention to details, familiarity with related technology, such as CAD, graphics, pattern design and scanning software, ability to use related tools, including graphics tablets, architectural scales and curves
Salary (2018) $54,920 yearly (median for architectural drafters)
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 2%

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Job listings from employers

Obtain Relevant Education

Most employers prefer candidates who have completed a postsecondary drafting program. For applicants interested in architectural drafting, however, a bachelor's degree may be needed. Some technical institutes and community colleges offer certificate or associate's degree programs in drafting and related technologies. Related bachelor's degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Architectural Design, are also available. In degree programs, students can expect coursework in topics that include architectural CAD drafting, building codes, construction methods, design and other practical areas, such as cost analysis and estimation. Programs may also expand on these topics with training in mechanical systems and landscape drafting.

Students can gain related experience working for construction, remodeling, and materials companies, or even completing an internship. Another possibility is working for a government program. Prospective technicians may also be able to apply relevant military training and experience as an applicant, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This may necessitate obtaining additional civilian training, however.

Gain Work Experience

Employers usually require drafters to have a minimum of one year of experience, but tend to prefer two to five, or more, years of experience. Employers may specify the type of software applicants should be proficient in, such as AutoCAD or REVIT. Entry-level architectural technicians verify specifications and draw rough designs for landscapes, foundations, and buildings. Drafters generally use CAD and other computer software to plan, modify, and reproduce sketches and layouts. New hires may also visit job sites, compile information, and archive designs.

With experience, architectural technicians may begin performing advanced work, such as analyzing building codes, calculating stress factors, and determining structural integrity. Intermediate drafters build computer and display models, as well as draw detailed schematics and designs for presentation purposes. Technicians may also assist architects with preparing estimates, bids, and contracts.

Get Certified

Certification for architectural technicians is optional; however, it does demonstrate proficiency to prospective employers. The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), an internationally recognized certifying organization for drafting technicians and design engineers, offers several designations based on specialty and experience level. While formal education is not necessary to qualify for testing, employment in the field is required for certification renewal. The certification exam does not cover software.

Once again, architectural technicians or architectural drafters should have some postsecondary education in architecture, drafting, or engineering. They should then gain hands-on experience and training through an entry-level position in the field.

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