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What is the difference between an architect, an architectural designer, and a draftsperson

Updated: Mar 8




While the roles of an architect, an architectural designer, and a draftsperson may overlap to some extent, they each have distinct responsibilities and qualifications within the field of architecture. Here's a breakdown of their differences:


Architect:

  • An architect is a licensed design professional who has completed a degree in architecture, gained practical experience through internships, and passed the required licensing exams.

  • Architects are trained to oversee the entire architectural process, from conceptualization to construction. They possess a comprehensive understanding of building codes, zoning regulations, structural systems, and environmental factors.

  • Architects work closely with clients to understand their needs and vision for a project. They develop initial design concepts, create detailed drawings and specifications, and manage the construction process to ensure that the final building meets both aesthetic and functional requirements.

Architects often have the authority to stamp and sign architectural drawings, indicating their professional approval and adherence to relevant codes and standards.


Architectural Designer:

  • An architectural designer (AD) refers to a building designer who is not a registered architect. ADs receive their OJT (On-Job-Training) experience through this process. Unlike architects, ADs are not required to take any exams or obtain a license. A fully-qualified engineer may be needed to sign off plans produced by an architectural designer. All states allow architectural designers to design and produce drawings for building homes and, in some cases, small commercial projects. Independent ADs charge a lower fee for home designs than a registered architect.

While they may not have the authority to stamp or sign drawings, architectural designers can be an affordable alternative to a licensed architect. Their fees are not calculated at the same rate as an architect, and they can provide homeowners what they really want.


Draftsperson (Draftsman or Drafter):

  • A draftsperson, also known as a draftsman or drafter, is a skilled technician who specializes in creating technical drawings and plans based on the specifications provided by architects and designers.

  • Draftspersons are proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) software and other drafting tools, allowing them to produce detailed drawings of architectural plans, elevations, sections, and details.

  • While they play a vital role in the documentation phase of a project, draftspersons typically focus on the technical aspects of drafting rather than the creative or conceptual aspects of design.

  • Unlike architects and architectural designers, draftspersons may not be required to hold a professional license, although formal training or certification in drafting techniques is common.


In summary, architects are licensed professionals responsible for overseeing the entire architectural process, and have the qualifications for all sorts of design work, both public and private. Architectural designers focus on smaller design projects like homes and small commercial buildings where the state allows, and draftspersons specialize in technical drafting tasks. While their roles may differ, understanding the role architects, architectural designers, and draftspersons play in a project will help you decide which one is best suited for your project.

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