Architectural drafters take the ideas and concepts of architects, and turn them into plans and drawings that are used by construction workers to build projects. They typically use Computer Aided Design and Drafting systems to prepare their drawings, so they may sometimes be called CADD operators. The profession normally requires postsecondary training from technical institutes, junior colleges or universities.
Architectural drafters comprise almost half of all drafting professionals, and earned an average of $22.94 per hour or $47,710 per year. However, they are paid less than almost any other drafting professional. For example, electrical and electronics drafters received the highest wages at $26.34 per hour or $54,800 per year, followed by mechanical drafters got $23.94 per hour or $49,790 per year. Even other, unclassified drafters, averaged $23.18 per hour or $48,210 per year. This information is as of May 2009, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The industries that employ over 80 percent of the architectural drafters are architectural and engineering, that provide drafting to organizations that do not have any in-house. Here, these professionals earned a mean $22.81 per hour or $47,450 per year, which is close to the mean national compensation for the profession. However, the highest salaries were granted by aerospace product and parts manufacturers, who offered a mean $32.56 per hour or $67,730 per year.
When they first start out, architectural drafters may perform routine work under close supervision. They only progress to more complex tasks with less supervision after they gain experience. Eventually, they may progress to the higher salaries of senior drafter, designer or supervisor. Those who continue their education may progress to other compatible careers such as civil engineering technicians, who earn $22.80 per hour or $47,420 per year; civil engineers, who earn a mean $39.03 per hour or $81,180 per year; or architects, who earn a mean $37.93 per hour or $78,880.
Though not required, certification can increase both employability and salaries because it is documented proof of ability and of the understanding of industry-accepted practices. Drafters must pass the Drafter Certification Test, which is administered by the American Design Drafting Association. This exam requires no prerequisite experience or education. It tests knowledge of professional concepts and standards. However, it does not cover graphic production or software issues. Certification is valid for five years. Renewal of the credential simply requires proof of employment as a drafter for no less than three years.