Drafting and architecture are both essential parts of building design and construction, but they are definitely not one and the same. These two equally necessary parts of the process are usually done by different people and the two jobs, although they cross paths regularly, involve many different skills and responsibilities. The two people who take part in drafting and architecture, predictably, are drafters and architects.
What Architects Do
An architect is a professional who takes a concept of a building, either a home, business or other structure and uses his training in art and science to develop a design for the structure. The architect creates the overall look of the building and is responsible for its safety, functionality and the ability to build the design within budgeted restrictions. They are involved with the project from the earliest conceptual design through the actual construction process.
What Drafters Do
A drafter specializes in the production of technical drawings and plans that are used by architects and construction workers to build a structure or other objects. Drafters are involved in drawing the plans for many objects and are not limited to blueprints of buildings. They may use computer aided design tools like CADD to make plans for everything from a house to a tiny piece of electronic equipment.
Architects must complete a professional degree in architecture, gain multiple years of practical experience and then pass the Architect Registration Exam to become licensed. Drafters do not have such specific educational requirements to begin work. Still, most firms prefer to hire drafters with at least two years of post-secondary training in the field. These courses are generally available at community colleges, technical colleges and some four-year universities. Employers are typically interested in applicants with a good grasp on CADD techniques.
An architect can make a good living, especially if he is successful and self-employed or working for a top firm. The average salary of an architect was $78,530 in May of 2010, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website. The top 10 percent of architects earn nearly $120,000 annually. Drafters make significantly less than architects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the median earnings for an architectural or civil drafter in 2008 was $44,490 annually. The upper 10 percent of earners took home close to $70,000.