People interested in becoming residential drafters may obtain training through college certificate or associate degree programs, both of which often require a high school diploma as a condition of admission.
Students who enroll in a certificate program in drafting will learn about the fundamentals of CADD while developing the capability to craft blueprints and technical drawings. Building codes and structural drafting are other areas of study. Associate's degree programs incorporate general education coursework with subjects that include electrical and mechanical systems and construction specifications. Experienced drafters might pursue professional certifications from the American Design Drafting Association.
Certificate in Drafting or Architectural Technology
Some colleges offer certificate programs in drafting or architectural technology that teach students the tools and techniques used in residential drafting, as well as specialized knowledge in residential building materials and codes. A high school diploma or GED is often required, although some programs will admit high school juniors and seniors.
Students gain a basic understanding of trigonometry and geometry. They also develop freehand drawing and computer skills useful for creating technical drawings and blueprints for site plans, floor plans and HVAC, electrical or lighting plans based on the notes of architects, surveyors and engineers.
Generally, college certificate programs may be completed within one year if attended full time. In addition to residential drafting, some programs include courses in drafting for other types of structures or machines. Typical coursework may include:
- Math applications for architecture
- Structural drafting
- Architectural drafting
- Beginning and advanced residential drafting
- Residential building codes
Associate of Applied Science Degree in Architectural Technology
An Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Architectural Technology program with a concentration in residential drafting provides more extensive education in architecture and construction than a certificate program. Students learn about technical issues involved in mapping out framing, mechanical and electrical systems for buildings. They also learn about commercial building construction. Graduates are highly prepared to work with architects and building engineers on residential projects.
Programs combine general education courses with the study of architectural technology, residential drafting and construction. In addition to the classes described for the certificate in drafting, A.A.S. coursework may include:
- History of architecture
- Building construction
- Electrical and mechanical systems
- Construction specifications
- Structural illustration and detailing
- Commercial building codes and drafting
Popular Career Options
An A.A.S. program prepares graduates for employment in the residential building design industry. They are qualified to work as residential drafters or in other architectural drafting positions. They may also work as drafting equipment sales people and manufacturer's representatives.
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects overall employment for drafters to have little or no change from 2018-2028, with employment for architectural and civil drafters expected to increase by two percent as well (www.bls.gov). This increase will be in part due to increased efficiencies in CADD technologies and the outsourcing of drafting work, although geography and the cyclical nature of the construction industry may have a role as well. The BLS also reported that the mean annual wage for architectural and civil drafters employed in residential building construction as of May 2018 was $56,700.
Continuing Education Information
A bachelor's degree is not offered in residential drafting. Graduates of A.A.S. programs who wish to continue with their college education may enter a bachelor's program in a related field, such as architecture or construction management. They may also enhance their credentials by obtaining professional certification as a certified drafter through the American Design Drafting Association.
People with a college certificate in drafting may continue their education by seeking an associate degree in architectural technology with a concentration in residential drafting. They may also pursue professional certification from an industry organization, such as the American Design Drafting Association, which administers the Certified Drafter-Architectural (C.D.) program. C.D. certification is recognized in the industry as demonstrating broad expertise in drafting concepts, standards and practices. Re-certification is periodically required and may require proof of employment in the field.
A Certificate in Drafting or Architectural Technology program provides training that prepares students to create technical drawing and blue prints used in residential drafting. An A.A.S. in Architectural Technology program takes an extra year but goes into more extensive studies, including some general education courses.