Architectural Technology/Technician  Program Description


Insider Info

dotA three-year program -- in some places even a two-year program -- is enough to get you going in the field of architectural technology.

As the industry grows, it is becoming more regulated. However, accreditation is not necessary.

People in the field say that the best programs are the ones with the most hands-on training.

"There is a tremendous amount of computer technology built into the program, in addition to traditional freehand drawing and model-building," says Rex Simpson. He chairs the architectural technology department at Alfred State College in New York. His school's curriculum is organized around a series of studio courses with a technical focus.

Students take classes in construction technology, CAD (computer-aided design), 3D computer modeling, rendering and animation. Rendering is a perspective drawing showing an architect's idea of a finished building or interior.

Drafting skills are important. "If the computer breaks down, you don't just stop the whole [architectural] practice. You've got to be able to be flexible," says Peter Levar. He is the head of an architectural technology program. "You've got to be able to understand the manual method of drafting before you sort of jump into the computer area."

If you're interested in the more conceptual design work, enroll directly in architecture schools. If you like the idea of helping to fine-tune an architect's important design, then a technology program will be for you.

Teachers often give lessons in history, residential and commercial building materials, presentation drawings, residential and commercial detailing and specific building code classes on residential and commercial applications.

Programs look for well-rounded applicants. That means you should be strong in math and have good mechanical skills. But you also need to be good with presentation and design.

Bob Topping is a program coordinator. He says that he looks for students with not only mathematical ability, but analytical and freehand drawing abilities.

He recommends that high school students take math, physics and freehand technical drawing classes. Knowing different computer applications is a definite asset, as is having time management skills.

"Extracurricular activities that foster teamwork, time management and communication skills [are important]," he says.

Extra costs like textbooks and materials can be steep in architectural technology programs.


Occupational Outlook Handbook
For more information related to this field of study, see: Drafters

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Just the Facts

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