What Is The Difference Between An Architect and A Draftsman

What's the difference between an architect and a draftsman?

Architects and draftsmen may have a similar job description, but if you take a closer look, you can easily spot the differences between the two professions. The major differences are the varying duties and roles architects and draftsmen play in the building process. There are additional differences in their pay scales and the education required for a job in either sector.

Differences In a Nutshell

In a nutshell, architects plan and design structures like buildings, houses, hospitals and museums, etc. Draftsmen, on the other hand, convert the designs of architects into technical drawings on computer screens by using complex softwares. Therefore, while architects may be found working with clients and drawing up initial plans with pen and paper, draftsmen are usually found working behind computer screens. Architects and draftsmen are often found working together, visiting job sites and collaborating as a team.

How are the Job Duties for Architects and Draftsmen different?

Architects initially meet up with clients for rough drafts and specifications to build structures. They also have a wider job description as compared to draftsmen, who generally work under the supervision of architects and engineers. Architects are expected to discuss preliminary costs and construction time with the clients. They also direct and manage workers at the construction site. In addition to this, architects supervise the building of structures during the process. They also work on the legal documents and contracts needed for the construction to start.

In some few cases, architects may be called upon to provide feasibility reports as well as environmental impact reports. Architectural reports and plans are also more detailed. They focus not just on the outside appearance of the building but also internal structures including but not limited to air conditioning, heating, ventilation systems, plumbing, electrical systems and landscape plans.

On the other hand, draftsmen work on the rough sketches provided by architects and add crucial details to them e.g. the exact dimensions of the building and the materials used for construction. An alternative job title for draftsmen is CAD operators, as they use computer-aided design (CAD) software to translate architectural drawings into official blueprints. Draftsmen are also trained to use BIM (Building Information Modeling) software to bring architectural designs to life. Draftsmen can only start working after receiving the initial plans from architects and engineers.

What Are the Educational and Certification Requirements for Architects Versus Draftsmen?

Architects are usually required to be better qualified than draftsmen. To be an architect, you are expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in architecture, which will take five years to complete. You could choose to get a master's degree as well which will at least take another year or two of education but could take longer. After graduation, aspiring architects are required to complete a three-year-long training program, so they can eventually pass the architect registration exam. Most aspiring architects are familiar with the AXP (Architectural Experience Program) - a handy tool for students looking for guidance regarding trainings and internships.

The educational requirements for draftsmen are very different. For starters, drafters are only required to get a 2 year long associate's degree. Typically, a drafter will have an associate of applied science in drafting. This is the only mandatory education needed to become a drafter. However, often drafters will get certified through the American Design Drafting Association to specialize in their chosen field e.g. civil, mechanical or architectural drafting.

What Is the Difference in Pay Between Architects and Draftsmen?

According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for architects as of May 2018 was $79,380. The lowest ten percent in the industry earned $48,020, and the highest ten percent made $138,120 per annum.

As for drafters, they earned a little less than architects. Drafters made a median annual wage of $55,550 per annum as of May 2018. The lowest 10 percent of drafters earned below $35,170 and the top 10 percent in the industry made above $85,140.

What Is the Job Outlook?

The table below contains relevant information available for both industries.




Employment, 2016



Projected growth, 2016-2026



Percentage growth, 2016-2026



What Are Some Related Alternative Careers for Both Professions?

Related alternative careers for architects starting from the best paying positions to lesser paying ones include architectural and engineering managers, construction managers, civil engineers, landscape architects and more.

Related alternative careers for drafters, ranked from the best paying positions to lesser paying positions include electrical and electronic engineers, mechanical engineers, architects, landscape artists and more.

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