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