What does an Architectural Drafter do? (with pictures)

Cassie L. Damewood
Cassie L. Damewood
An architectural drafter should know how to use a plotter, the special large-format printers used to print blueprints and renderings.
An architectural drafter should know how to use a plotter, the special large-format printers used to print blueprints and renderings.

An architectural drafter creates scale drawings of buildings that are utilized by designers, engineers, contractors and architects in the construction of schools, homes, commercial business parks, factories and production plants. Most jobs in this profession are found in the engineering or development departments of large corporations. An architectural drafter may also work for a construction company or architectural design firm.

Thanks to CAD technology, an architectural designer drafter can now do his job more quickly, producing more designs than in previous years.
Thanks to CAD technology, an architectural designer drafter can now do his job more quickly, producing more designs than in previous years.

Her drawings must be extremely accurate as they are the actual recipe for the construction of the buildings. Each measurement and calculation must be precise to avoid compromising the integrity of the structures. An architectural drafter frequently visits job sites to verify her drawings are being clearly interpreted by the builders.

The process of creating the final drawings commonly begins with rough drafts of the exteriors and floor plans of the proposed structures. The drafter commonly bases these initial concepts on engineering specifications and other information usually supplied by the general contractor. Any general questions or areas of concern that surface during this early phase are typically referred to the engineering firm in charge for resolution.

A type of drafting tool, compasses can be used to draw circles and arches of various sizes.
A type of drafting tool, compasses can be used to draw circles and arches of various sizes.

Once the initial floor plans are finalized, the architectural drafter normally proceeds to the drawings of the building’s interior rooms. This process commonly involves the use of computer-assisted drafting (CAD) equipment and software. These computer-based programs enable the drafter to create and alter three-dimensional drawings on a video screen. Although today’s architectural drafters rarely use tools like protractors, triangles and scale rulers that were essential before the invention of CAD systems, they still use traditional pens and pencils to make corrections and notations on hard copy drawings.

In addition to drafting the plans and sketches, a person in this position is typically involved in confirming other details crucial to the successful completion of the project. This customarily includes verifying the amount of required building materials and their appropriateness for the job. She also typically calculates stress aspects, heat losses and gains and weight factors related to the construction.

Most employers require a high school diploma or equivalent for job applicants for architectural drafting positions. Completion of a two-year program in drafting or CAD design at a community college or trade school is highly desirable. Some professional drafting organizations offer certification programs. These certifications are often preferred by employers as they provide job applicants with knowledge of general drafting concepts and architectural terminology. Work experience in drawing or drafting is helpful, as is a portfolio reflecting artistic talent in sketching or drawing.

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    • An architectural drafter should know how to use a plotter, the special large-format printers used to print blueprints and renderings.
      An architectural drafter should know how to use a plotter, the special large-format printers used to print blueprints and renderings.
    • Thanks to CAD technology, an architectural designer drafter can now do his job more quickly, producing more designs than in previous years.
      Thanks to CAD technology, an architectural designer drafter can now do his job more quickly, producing more designs than in previous years.
    • A type of drafting tool, compasses can be used to draw circles and arches of various sizes.
      A type of drafting tool, compasses can be used to draw circles and arches of various sizes.