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Working As An Architectural Drafter

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $48,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Architectural Drafter Do

Drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Duties

Drafters typically do the following:

  • Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects
  • Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
  • Add details to architectural plans from their knowledge of building techniques
  • Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new products
  • Work under the supervision of engineers or architects

Many drafters are referred to as CAD operators. Using CAD systems, drafters create and store technical drawings digitally. These drawings contain information on how to build a structure or machine, the dimensions of the project, and what materials are needed to complete the project.

Drafters work with CAD so they can create schematics that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into building information modeling (BIM) systems. These systems allow drafters, architects, construction managers, and engineers to create and collaborate on digital models of physical buildings and machines. Through three-dimensional rendering, BIM software allows designers and engineers to see how different elements in their projects work together.

Architectural drafters draw architectural and structural features of buildings for construction projects. These workers may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. They may also specialize by the materials used, such as steel, wood, or reinforced concrete.

Civil drafters prepare topographical maps used in construction and civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, and flood-control projects.

Electrical drafters prepare wiring diagrams that other construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in power plants, electrical distribution systems, and residential and commercial buildings.

Electronics drafters produce wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams for circuit boards, and layout drawings used in manufacturing and in installing and repairing electronic devices and components.

Mechanical drafters prepare layouts that show the details for a wide variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices, such as medical equipment. These layouts indicate dimensions, fastening methods, and other requirements needed for assembly. Mechanical drafters sometimes create production molds.

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How To Become An Architectural Drafter

Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate’s degree in drafting.

Education

Drafters generally need to complete postsecondary education in drafting. This is typically done through a 2-year associate’s degree from a technical institute or community college.

Technical institutes offer instruction in design fundamentals, sketching, and CAD (computer-aided design) software and award certificates or diplomas upon completion. Programs vary in length but are generally 2 years of full-time education. The types of courses offered will also vary by institution. Some institutions may specialize in only one type of drafting, such as mechanical or architectural drafting.

Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes that lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or related degree. After completing an associate’s degree program, graduates may get jobs as drafters or continue their education in a related field at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer training in drafting, but they do offer classes in engineering, architecture, and mathematics.

To prepare for postsecondary education, high school students who take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and where available, drafting, may find such classes useful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. Although not mandatory, certification demonstrates competence and knowledge of nationally recognized practices. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings that will guide the creation of real buildings, tools, and systems.

Detail oriented. Drafters must pay close attention to details so that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications.

Interpersonal skills. Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to take advice and constructive criticism, as well as to offer it.

Math skills. Drafters work on technical drawings. They may be required to solve mathematical calculations involving factors such as angles, weights, and costs.

Technical skills. Drafters in all specialties must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as BIM (building information modeling).

Time-management skills. Drafters often work under strict deadlines. As a result, they must work efficiently in order to produce the required output according to set schedules.

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Architectural Drafter Career Paths

Architectural Drafter
Architectural Designer Architect
Project Architect
7 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Architect Project Manager
Contract Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Architect Senior Project Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Drafter Designer Design Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Drafter Designer Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Drafter Design Drafter Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Construction Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Engineer Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Computer Aided Design Designer Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Engineering Technician Electrician
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Engineering Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Designer Project Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Engineer Construction Manager
Capital Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Estimator Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Freelance Designer Interior Designer
Design Architect
5 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Estimator Assistant Project Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Job Captain
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
Planner Estimator Senior Estimator
Construction Consultant
11 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Architectural Drafter?

Average Yearly Salary
$48,000
Show Salaries
$38,000
Min 10%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$60,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
IPG Photonics
Highest Paying City
Washington, DC
Highest Paying State
Illinois
Avg Experience Level
2.9 years
How much does an Architectural Drafter make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Architectural Drafter in the United States is $48,484 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $60,000.

The largest raises come from changing jobs.

See what's out there.

Real Architectural Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Architectural Drafter/Designer Safdie Architects LLC Nov 30, 2015 $85,000
Architectural Drafter/Designer RXR Constuction and Development LLC Jun 20, 2016 $84,000
Architectural Drafter RXR Construction and Development LLC Feb 08, 2016 $84,000
Architectural Drafter Cross Country Construction LLC Nov 15, 2015 $80,000
Architectural Drafter OBM Miami May 31, 2016 $78,000
Architectural Drafter Rafael Vinoly, Architects P.C. Feb 05, 2015 $71,400 -
$90,100
Architectural Drafter Robert Hidey Architects Inc. Aug 31, 2016 $70,000
Architectural Drafter Behar Font & Partners Pa Jan 09, 2016 $70,000
Architectural Drafter Think! Architecture and Design PLLC Jan 09, 2016 $70,000
Architectural Drafter Sigma Engineering, Inc. Sep 15, 2015 $69,347
Architectural Drafter Gehry Partners LLP Aug 08, 2016 $69,120
Architectural Drafter/Lead Design Specialist Perez, A Professional Corporation Sep 13, 2016 $68,000
Architectural Drafter Volmar Construction, Inc. Nov 09, 2016 $65,790
Architectural Drafter/Designer Safdie Architects LLC Jan 07, 2016 $65,000
Architectural Drafter White Architects LLC Dec 13, 2016 $49,878
Architectural Drafter Karin Payson Architecture and Design Aug 01, 2015 $49,817
Architectural Drafter The Don Vita Company, Inc. Sep 04, 2015 $49,817
Architectural Drafter Blasen Landscape Architecture, Inc. Sep 04, 2015 $49,650
Architectural Drafter Tannerhecht, Inc. Sep 01, 2015 $49,650
Architectural Drafter SB Architects Sep 10, 2015 $49,650
Architectural Drafter Contempo Builder LLC Jun 28, 2016 $49,629
Architectural Drafter Contempo Builder LLC Aug 07, 2016 $49,629
Architectural Drafter Space Light Structure Design, Inc. Sep 23, 2016 $43,848
Architectural Drafter Whitestone Designs Inc. Aug 16, 2016 $43,848
Architectural Drafter Space Light Structure Design, Inc. Aug 09, 2016 $43,848
Architectural Drafter Basis & Associates, Inc. Sep 22, 2016 $43,848
Architectural Drafter Gunkel Architecture Aug 26, 2015 $43,827 -
$45,914
Architectural Drafter Goring and Straja Architects Jan 04, 2016 $43,827
Architectural Drafter Gunkel Architecture Feb 09, 2016 $43,827 -
$45,914
Architectural Drafter Max Parangi Architects P.C. Aug 26, 2015 $43,827 -
$48,001

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Top Skills for An Architectural Drafter

  1. Shop Drawings
  2. Architectural Construction Documents
  3. New Homes
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Reviewed/approved shop drawings and sample submissions.
  • Produce architectural construction documents including floor plans, interior/exterior elevations, construction details, sections, reflected ceiling plans etc.
  • Worked with Lionel on a contract basis coordinating and designing residential properties (New homes and Renovations).
  • Administered and witnessed on-site testing programs * Prepared daily and appropriate reports as required by the contract documents.
  • Launched new architectural discipline with Revit computer drafting system.

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Top 10 Best States for Architectural Drafters

  1. North Dakota
  2. Alaska
  3. Georgia
  4. Arizona
  5. Illinois
  6. New Hampshire
  7. South Dakota
  8. District of Columbia
  9. California
  10. Connecticut
  • (4 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (220 jobs)
  • (48 jobs)
  • (36 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (182 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)

Architectural Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

63.7%

Female

31.9%

Unknown

4.4%
Ethnicity

White

57.7%

Hispanic or Latino

20.1%

Black or African American

9.9%

Asian

8.3%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

65.8%

French

10.5%

German

3.9%

Turkish

2.6%

Mandarin

2.6%

Portuguese

1.3%

Indonesian

1.3%

Chinese

1.3%

Cantonese

1.3%

Japanese

1.3%

Bengali

1.3%

Russian

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Italian

1.3%

Catalan

1.3%

Hindi

1.3%
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Architectural Drafter Education

Schools

Wentworth Institute of Technology

6.9%

New York Institute of Technology - Old Westbury

6.9%

Boston Architectural College

6.9%

Lawrence Technological University

6.9%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

5.9%

City College of New York of the City University of New York

5.9%

University of Illinois at Chicago

5.9%

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities

4.9%

Florida International University

4.9%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

4.9%

Porter and Chester Institute

4.9%

Rio Hondo College

3.9%

New England Institute of Technology

3.9%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

3.9%

Portland State University

3.9%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

3.9%

Catholic University of America

3.9%

ITT Technical Institute-Arlington

3.9%

New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York

3.9%

ITT Technical Institute-Green Bay

3.9%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

31.3%

Architecture

27.7%

Architectural Technology

5.7%

Interior Design

5.0%

Environmental Design

4.8%

Business

3.2%

Construction Management

3.2%

Architectural Engineering

2.9%

Graphic Design

2.0%

Civil Engineering

1.9%

Architectural Engineering Technology

1.7%

Engineering

1.6%

Engineering Technology

1.5%

Fine Arts

1.5%

Computer Science

1.3%

Project Management

1.3%

Urban Planning

1.1%

Mechanical Engineering

0.9%

Interior Architecture

0.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

0.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.7%

Associate

36.2%

Certificate

10.2%

Masters

9.1%

Diploma

2.9%

High School Diploma

2.7%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Updated May 18, 2020