How to Become a Drafting Architect (A Step-by-Step Guide)

By Indeed Editorial Team

3 January 2022

Architectural drafters create blueprints and building plans for construction teams. Drafters often work under supervision from an architect and assist them in researching building codes. Understanding what an architectural drafter is can help you determine if architecture is the right industry for you. In this article, we discuss how to become a drafting architect, list some of their duties and explore similar architectural careers.

What is a drafting architect?

An architectural drafter is a design professional who creates technical drawings used in the building industry. Drafting architects complete most of their tasks in an office environment.

An architectural drafter draws technical blueprints that outline building codes and specifications. The specifications often outline elevations, materials and structure dimensions. Drafters also specify the location of services such as water, electricity, sewerage and gas. When drawing building plans, drafters typically receive instruction from a supervising architect. Below you can find the typical responsibilities of an architectural drafter:

  • estimating the number of materials required for a project

  • liaising with building contractors and clients

  • calculating material costs

  • communicating with local government authorities

  • analysing building codes

  • assisting architects

  • interpreting client design briefs

How to become a drafting architect

Below you can find a helpful guide on how to become a drafting architect:

1. Complete a certificate or diploma

The minimum requirement for becoming an architect drafter is usually a certificate or diploma. There's a variety of courses you may consider, such as an Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architectural) or a Certificate IV in Residential Building Drafting. These courses usually take two years to complete.

A diploma or certificate can provide you with the skills and knowledge for producing technical drawings. They may also teach the fundamentals of computer-aided design (CAD) programs. Many design careers utilise CAD, so becoming qualified in it may increase your job opportunities. You can gain employment as an entry-level architectural drafter by completing a diploma or certificate.

2. Consider a bachelor's degree

A bachelor's degree is not usually a requirement for becoming a drafting architect, though it may provide you with advanced skills in architecture. You can learn these skills from a variety of degrees, such as a Bachelor of Architectural Design or a Bachelor of Design (Architecture). Bachelor degrees typically take three years to complete.

Bachelor degrees may take longer to complete in comparison to a certificate or diploma, but they usually provide you with an opportunity to advance your career. As an architectural drafter, you may choose to improve your skill set and become an architectural designer. A bachelor's degree can qualify you as a drafter and may also provide you with several other career opportunities.

3. Apply for an architectural drafting job

The amount of experience or qualification you require to become an architectural drafter may vary depending on the employer. If you don't have any experience, you can try to gain entry-level employment with an architectural firm. Careers such as assistant drafter may provide you with the skills necessary to become an architectural drafter.

As a drafting architect, you can expect to gain employment with architectural design businesses and construction companies. You may likely gain employment with businesses that focus on residential construction. You can apply for an architectural drafting role using the Indeed Job Board.

Related: How to Become an Architect: Step-By-Step Guide

The average salary of an architectural drafter

The average national salary of an architectural drafter is $78,961 per year. To increase your salary, you can consider gaining further qualifications and improving your skills. This might lead to career opportunities in a managerial role. Your income might also vary depending on where you live.

Below you can find the average national salary of an architectural drafter in different cities:

  • Gold Coast, QLD: $70,271 per year

  • Perth, WA: $78,859 per year

  • Sydney, NSW: $83,109 per year

  • Melbourne, VIC: $84,072 per year

  • Parrearra, QLD: $90,000 per year

Drafting architecture vs. designing architecture

The main difference between a drafter and a designer is that a designer specialises in 3D blueprints. An architectural drafter uses CAD to develop 2D design plans. The designer transforms those plans into a 3D model. Designers usually have more qualifications than drafters and often earn a higher salary. The average national salary of an architectural designer is $$95,662 per year.

Related: Building Designer vs. Architect: What's the Difference?

Other careers in the architecture industry

There are many architectural careers with transferable skills for drafting. If you're considering the role of a drafter, it may help to explore some of the other careers that share similar responsibilities. Depending on your potential employer, you may be a part of an architectural team that employs several of the following professionals:

1. CAD technician

Average national salary: $79,315 per year

Primary duties: Computer-aided design technicians specialise in transforming 2D templates into 3D models. CAD technicians can gain employment with most businesses that design products or structures. The 3D models they produce can range from individual parts such as bolts and screws to large fabrications such as a vehicle or house. The process of turning a 2D design into 3D can help the clients gain a better visual representation of their product.

2. Interior designer

Average national salary: $78,500 per year

Primary duties: Interior designers help develop living spaces within residential buildings. They often work as part of an architectural team to design the interior of rooms. An interior designer usually has knowledge in building processes, design principles and government regulations. They use their skills in design to create a living space that meets the client's creative brief and conforms to building standards and codes.

3. Architect

Average national salary: $88,297 per year

Primary duties: Architects help oversee the planning, design and construction phase of building projects. They liaise with engineers to develop blueprints for commercial, civil and residential projects. The responsibilities of an architect can range from planning project budgets to conducting feasibility studies on potential building sites. Architects tend to have a more managerial role compared to other professionals in an architectural team.

Related: 22 Jobs in Architecture for Recent Graduates (With Salaries)

Helpful skills for an architectural drafter

Here you can find some of the skills that may help you fulfil your duties as an architectural drafter:

Attention to detail

As an architectural drafter, you can benefit from having good attention to detail. When developing blueprints, there are often minor details that can require focus and attention to notice. Small discrepancies in measurements can cause complications further in the building process. Your attention to detail can help you produce an accurate and clear blueprint. You can improve your attention to detail by minimising the number of distractions in your workplace and improving your personal health.

Mathematics

Being able to process numbers can help you complete your duties as an architectural drafter. Most of your responsibilities may involve the use of equations and geometry. For example, you may calculate the length of the walls, the pitch of the roof and the number of materials required for the project. To improve your mathematic skills, you can practice maths principles such as trigonometry and fractions.

Computer proficiency

The blueprints that you produce for your clients or employer are usually digital copies. To create these blueprints, you may use a wide range of CAD programs. Having a general knowledge of computer programs can help you become proficient with CAD software. To improve your computer proficiency, you may practice using online design software. Some programs are more advanced than others, so it's often a good idea to learn the basics first.

Technical building knowledge

Knowing the basics of residential construction may help you interpret client briefs and follow government regulations. When creating design blueprints, there are many standards and codes that you may be subject to. Being aware of the legalities of constructing a home can help you plan safe and legal building designs. The most effective way to improve your building knowledge is usually by completing qualifications relating to architecture.

Teamwork

Within an architectural team, you can expect to be under the supervision of an architect. Good teamwork skills can allow you to work with others and improve workplace productivity. Working well in a team environment can help you communicate with your colleagues, which often improves the workplace environment. To enhance your teamwork skills, you can consider practising good teamwork habits. These habits may include regular communication, self-awareness and consideration of others.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.