Drafters and architectural technology experts translate architectural plans into scale drawings to be used by construction workers. Though an associate's degree is the most common on-campus degree, most online programs in architectural drafting or technology are offered only as diploma programs. Placement tests may be required.
Online postsecondary diploma programs in architectural technology are available. Architectural and other drafters generally need some postsecondary education; associate's degrees are common. Professional certification through the American Design Drafting Association is not required, but may be preferred by employers.
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Diploma in Architectural Technology
Certificate programs in architectural technology and drafting provide direct training in Computer Assisted Drafting (CAD) tools and engineering drawing methods. This program is the minimum educational attainment required for entry into the field of architectural technology. Certificate programs forgo many of the general education requirements found in associate's or bachelor's degree programs in architectural technology.
Program Information and Requirements
This program can be well suited to online delivery, since much of the education focuses on estimating and CAD programs. Lasting from 1-2 semesters, these programs generally require only a high school diploma and appropriate placement test scores for enrollment. Some schools give students the option to earn a certificate in CAD or other technologies after the completion of only 2-3 courses. Programs are generally conducted through online content systems and e-mail, through which students and professors can interact electronically.
The curriculum for diploma programs focuses primarily on industry-specific courses. Topics covered include the CAD programs, as well as concepts in cost estimation and residential architectural drawings.
Introduction to Computers
Due to the computer-based systems common in architectural technology, this introductory course is a frequent part of diploma programs. This class gives drafters basic training in the use of modern microcomputers and peripherals.
This baseline course in drafting addresses all of the accepted standards of architectural technology professionals. Topics include isometric vs. oblique drawings, correct lettering, proper scaling and more.
Computer Assisted Drafting
Providing an introduction to CAD, this course takes the fundamental skills of drafting and applies them to computer-assisted drafting programs.
This course teaches students how to accurately estimate the cost of a given architectural project, based on the specifications requested. Topics include theoretical and hands-on lessons in estimating the costs of different construction models with different materials.
Architectural technology graduates often find careers that specialize in a type of building or construction material. Their skills help translate architectural plans into accurately-drawn, scaled drawings of potential buildings and other structures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), drafting - including architectural drafting - is a field that is expected to decline 3 percent, from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS reported that as of May 2015, architectural and civil drafters earned a median salary of $50,710.
Continuing Education Information
Architectural drafting students may elect to pursue a career in architecture, even though the career path from drafter to architect is a not direct one. Drafting programs provide a few of the more fundamental lessons found in a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch) program. Though not typically required by employers, a voluntary certification is available for architectural drafters from the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA).
In a field that is showing a decline, having a professional certification and obtaining an online architectural technology degree can be very beneficial to the job seeker who is exploring a limited pool of opportunities.