Whenever I started school for architecture, I made the mistake of thinking I was going into a career for drafting. The two can seem similar at a glance. I felt I needed to write this post so I could help at least one person to not make the same mistake I did.
I would honestly say I was very lucky. Architecture school ended up fitting my persona like a glove. Many other people cannot say the same. I have seen quite a bit of architecture students resign to pursue a program in drafting, having wasted valuable time and money attending a university.
So let us compare the two so you have a better idea of where you should head. First, the biggest difference. If you remember anything remember this:
A drafter learns all of the technical skills associated with drafting. An architect learns many skills including drafting.
Basic Job Description:
Drafter: Drafts technical drawings to scale for use in construction projects generally through computer guided programs. As a drafter, you are not limited to architecture and construction, but can also use your skills in engineering.
Architect: Plans, designs, and aids in the construction of buildings. Besides being involved in the aesthetics of a building, architects also make sure designs follow local ordinances, building codes, and accessibility codes.
Drafter: For a career in drafting, you generally attend a 2 year technical college and learn the skills needed to draft. This includes learning computer based programs such as AutoCAD and Solid Works.
Architect: To start the journey of becoming an architect you must have a NAAB accredited degree in a 5 year Bachelor of Architecture or a Master of Architecture. An architect’s education primarily consists of learning how to “design” buildings and their characteristics. (Check out my post about design school for more details). This does include learning several programs such as Sketchup, AutoCad, Revit, Photoshop, and Illustrator (Check this great website out for what these programs can do).
Drafter: Coming out of school, a drafter is prepared to draft for a variety of fields. You can venture into an firm that works in architecture, construction, or engineering. From here you then grow upon the skills you have learned.
Architect: After 5-6 years of architecture school, 2-3 years of internship, and a series of 7 tests (soon to be 6) you can call yourself an architect. Where as in school you focus on learning how design, post school you learn the business of architecture and the technical skills of the practice.
Any profession is worthwhile if it reflects what you feel you are meant to do. Drafting is a great way to learn a technical skill in a couple of years that can be applied to the fields of architecture, construction, and engineering. Architecture takes a while longer but you learn a variety of technical and creative skills. Not to mention you may one day get to call yourself an architect.
Credit goes to my friend Wayne Comeaux. Having received a technical diploma in drafting and design, he was a great resource in writing this post.