Construction Architectural Drafter
Salary Range Jobs Available
$38,300 - $85,100 11,300+

What Does an Architectural Drafter Do?

If you’re a problem-solver with a creative streak, here’s an exciting career path to consider. Drafters use computer-aided design (CAD) software to transform designs into technical drawings. In the construction industry, drafters work with architects and engineers. Their skills are needed in many fields, which is why drafters generally specialize. Architectural drafters create drawings for buildings or structures, but there are also civil, aeronautical and mechanical drafters.

Architectural drafters — also called CAD drafters, CAD operators or AutoCAD drafters — create technical drawings that pull together all the needed information about how to build a commercial, residential or industrial structure. They bring accuracy and precise specifications to an idea that started as a sketch.

Architectural CAD drafters often specialize in types of buildings or even types of materials. Increasingly, many use building information modeling (BIM) software that creates 3D models.

Why is this career exciting? Because the drawings that drafters create are the starting point for a building. The architectural draftman’s work is what site managers, engineers and managers use to set everything else in motion. The architectural draftman’s precision matters at every stage of the process, so he or she needs to be an excellent communicator even after the drawings are done — especially if changes are needed.

Read on to learn more about what it takes to become a drafter, and hear from an expert who's done the job for years. 

An architectural drafter uses computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to review drawings
An architectural drafter uses computer-aided drafting (CAD) software to create the drawings that make an architect’s vision a reality. (Credit: Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock)


  • Translate specifications created by engineers and architects into a plan
  • Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) or traditional drafting methods
  • Add details based on knowledge of building techniques, building codes and site requirements
  • Go to the construction site before and during construction to understand site requirements and changes
  • Spell out type and amount of needed materials
  • Ensure work complies with laws and regulations
  • Prepare cost estimates

How To Become an Architectural Drafter: FAQs

The bottom line:

If you have drawing or design skills and want to become a crucial player in the creation of buildings or any kind of structure, this career could be for you. It's not only satisfying to see the finished product; it's also exciting to be a part of a team on a fast-paced project. Check out the training options below to get started!

Coby Godfrey, architectural drafter, stands in front of a mantle

What's it like to be a drafter?

Coby Godfrey always had an appreciation for architecture. 

"I had a desire to be a fully licensed architect but started college in my 30s so the full architecture program wasn’t in the cards." Instead, he got an associate degree, and that turned out to be a great move.

The residential design and draftsman stays busy. Because the company he works for is small, team members wear many hats in a given day, from drafting to on-site measurements to drawing contracts. It's a role that is ever-changing yet still fulfilling.

"I don’t just design buildings," says Coby. "I design places where people will live their lives and raise their children — and that matters to me."

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