Draftsman vs. Architect

Some architects work with foreign clients.
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The building of single-family homes, university complexes and office skyscrapers starts from the minds of architects. They design structures by combining construction know-how with artistic sensibility. Draftsmen translate those designs into blueprints and specifications, so construction personnel can work from a practical document. Their duties, educational background and job prospects vary by title.


    Yes, women can be draftsmen, which is why the more modern designation for the profession is the gender-neutral “drafter.” Draftsmen transform the ideas of engineers and architects into workable plans by using computer-assisted design software (CAD). They often specialize in such fields as aeronautics, electronics or civil engineering. Those in architecture may also focus on particular buildings, such as residential or commercial, or materials, such as reinforced concrete or steel. They typically work under the supervision of architects and engineers, and often revise original plans to reflect changes in specifications and budgets.


    Architects start their tasks by meeting with a client to determine what she wants in a structure. From her desires, they estimate the material, financial and human resources necessary to meet her desires. They then design the structure, as well as its physical framework, such as electrical systems, plumbing and climate control. They must be careful to follow building codes, fire regulations and zoning laws. They meet with draftsmen who will create the final blueprints and technical drawings. Some architects may also negotiate construction contracts. To oversee the progress of their creations, they often visit project sites.


    To become a draftsman, you need a post-secondary education from a technical institute or community college, which is typically an associates degree. Many specializing in architecture continue with a bachelor’s degree. Although no such courses of study exist for drafting, an architecture degree includes the necessary math, design and architecture courses necessary for the profession. As a potential architect, you have two educational options. Most obtain a Bachelor of Architecture degree, which takes five years to complete. Those with architectural training take a master’s degree, which can take from one to five years to finish. Architects must then finish about three years of on-the-job training before they can take a licensing exam. Passing all the parts of the Architect Registration examinations grants the professional architect designation and allows independent work.


    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, from 2010 to 2020, jobs for architectural drafters are predicted to increase by 6 percent, which is less than half the 14 percent growth expected for all occupations. Increasing software sophistication allows many architects to perform many tasks previously reserved for drafters. Architecture jobs are projected to grow by 24 percent, primarily because of a growing population. Many of the jobs will be in the sunbelt states and in sustainable design. Competition will be strong at prestigious architectural firms. The best opportunities will go to those who have gone through internships.

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