Architectural Technician Career Info

Architectural technicians are also known as "drafters" in the industry. This work includes all the technical aspects of architecture, but also includes many design and aesthetic elements. Drafters have a very strong knowledge base in their work. They're required to deal with multiple issues in preparing their plans. An architectural technician may be called upon to turn any part of a draft plan or an entire draft plan, into a fully functional, technically accurate working blueprint. This work requires a lot of detailed measurement, quantification of architectural issues, and extreme accuracy. 

Responsibility

The architectural technician's job contains major responsibilities. All architectural plans are integrated projects. A plan or plan component must work with all architectural issues in the project. Inaccuracies can cost a lot of money to fix, if they get to the construction stage. Mistakes can create serious structural liabilities. Drafters are in the best possible position to spot design and construction issues before they become problems. The architectural technician therefore also operates as a quality controller on the contents of plans as well as being obliged to produce work of very demanding quality. The drafting work itself is highly varied. It may include:

  • Design plans: Blueprints, plan components, special engineering function plans like elevators, etc.
  • Graphic drawing: This can be advertising, "artist's impressions" of construction concepts, or for presentations to commercial clients 
  • Construction plans: Sometimes multiple, used to assist builders and sub contractors
  • Technical drawing to specifications: Extremely important in major contract work, the plans act as references to meeting contract requirements for specifications
  • Statutory- compliant plans: Essential for building and renovation approvals
  • Engineering plans: Advanced technical plans related to construction, usually prepared by engineering specialist drafters.

Although some specialization through experience is common in drafting, the fundamental basis of the work is inextricably linked with architectural core tasks, meaning the drafter will be the in-house expert on the plans when completed. They also act as advisers in terms of the technical aspects of their work.

Wages and Working Hours

Median wage is $45,000 per year. The top salaries are approximately $70,000. The hours are usually standard office hours, but also depend on requirements of contracts and employer needs.

The career environment

In the US, the housing and commercial property industries have created a very large employment market. Over 250,000 people are employed as architectural drafters. This allows for excellent job mobility, which is often based on geographical market demands. Both wages and career opportunities in this field depend on the "portfolio" aspect of the architectural technician's experience. 

Some architectural technicians are able to operate as businesses. These are usually drafters in mid-career with good networks in the building and development areas. Many will also operate in smaller local markets with local architects, a mutually beneficial division of labor which allows architects to be highly productive without being restrained by the extensive demands of technical plans.