Drafting and Architecture Job Outlook

Competitive field with good compensation

Many talented and well-educated individuals seek work in the drafting, architecture and design world. It's often those with the most experience and education that get the best jobs, with many of the rest competing for a smaller number of entry-level positions.

Architects

Internship architects will make much less than these figures. Earnings for architectural firm partners will fluctuate with the business's ups and downs and it can be hard for professionals to start their own business without significant financial resources. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a good career outlook in the next decade, with competition high among new graduates and job openings growing an average amount. Many new positions are expected to be in the nonresidential construction industry.

  • Median annual earnings - $60,300
  • Middle 50 percent - $46,700 to $79,200
  • Top 10 percent - over $99,800
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $38,000

Graphic designers

Average growth is also expected in the graphic design world, where competition levels will be high. Many new jobs will open in the online sector, whether through marketing and advertising firms, websites or entertainment companies. Jobs in the entry-level technical job market won't be as widely available due to overseas outsourcing.

  • Median hourly earnings - $38,000
  • Middle 50 percent - $29,300 to $50,800
  • Top 10 percent - over $65,900
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $23,200

Graphic designer earnings by industry

  • Architectural, engineering, related services - $42,700
  • Specialized design services - $41,600
  • Advertising and related services - $40,000
  • Printing and related support activities - $32,800
  • Newspaper, periodical, book and directory publishers - $32,400

Drafters

This area is expected to be slow-growing over the next decade due to a concentration of workers in declining or only slowly growing manufacturing industries. There will be more overseas outsourcing and computer systems such as CADD (computer aided design and drafting) will make it possible for current drafters to take on more work.

Architectural and civil drafters' median wages

  • Median annual earnings - $39,190
  • Middle 50 percent - $31,460 to $47,800
  • Top 10 percent - over $57,670
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $25,670

Mechanical drafters' median earnings

  • Median annual earnings - $43,000
  • Middle 50 percent - $34,090 to $54,240
  • Top 10 percent - over $67,650
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $27,490

Electrical and electronics drafters' median earnings

  • Median annual earnings - $43,180
  • Middle 50 percent - $33,920 to $56,110
  • Top 10 percent - over $72,050
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $27,600

Commercial and industrial designers

Growth in this industry should be average, with strong competition for jobs. Those with engineering or CAD (computer aided design) experience may fare best. About one third of these workers have historically been self-employed, with others working for engineering or specialized design services firms and manufacturing companies.

  • Median annual earnings - $52,310
  • Middle 50 percent - $39,130 to $68,980
  • Top 10 percent - over $86,250
  • Bottom 10 percent - under $29,250

Statistics courtesy the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2004