Skills You Need to Become an
Architectural Draftsperson

See also: Developing a Personal Vision

An architectural draftsperson is better known as an architectural associate. This is an interesting job with a lot of scope for creativity.

Architectural associates prepare drawings for their architect supervisors, as well as produce working drawings and preliminary plans, charts, maps, and sketches. They assist in the planning of building projects, working with architects, construction managers, and surveyors, and are often involved in the coordination of works projects, whether small residential buildings or large civil engineering projects such as dams and bridges.

To work as an architectural draftsperson, you need a formal qualification, typically via vocational training or a university degree. Some architects work as architectural associates when their degree earned in a different county doesn’t allow them to work as a full architect without a bridging qualification.

Draftsperson working on a drawing.

This is a great career path to follow, with plenty of opportunities for career progression. Read on to learn what skills you need to be an architectural draftsperson.


As you might expect, a high degree of creativity is desirable for anyone wishing to work as an architectural associate. While you might not be in charge of designing the building, you  may have to produce some designs, and these should be easy for others to interpret. Creative design abilities are often a key skill employers look for when hiring an architect’s associate. Build a portfolio of drawings and designs, so you can show off your skills and creativity when you go for an interview.

Technical Knowledge

One of the primary roles of an architectural draftsperson is to translate an architect’s original drawings into technical plans and blueprints. This is done using computer software systems and CAD (computer automated design) programs. Often, the software used is very technical and you will need to be comfortable using such systems.


You will need to be detail-oriented to work as an architectural draftsperson. Plans must be accurate before being handed over to contractors and builders. They must also contain all the necessary specifications. The smallest mistake in a building blueprint can be incredibly costly for the client and could end up with you losing your job if it’s serious enough.

Mathematical Skills

A head for numbers and being comfortable with mathematical calculations are other key skills that architectural draftspersons need. You will need to perform all kinds of detailed calculations when drawing plans and diagrams. If you are not comfortable with numbers, the job will be a lot harder than it should be.

Time Management

Architectural associates working for an architectural design services company often have to juggle a lot of tasks on any given day. The job can be quite stressful when a deadline is looming and to be successful, you will need impressive organisational and time management skills. You’ll have to learn how to project manage and allow enough time for plans to be prepared in time for delivery to the site. A lackadaisical approach and being disorganised will definitely not work in your favour and could make the job a lot more stressful.

Close up of architectural drawing.

People Management Skills

Working as a busy architectural associate typically means working in a busy architect’s practice. You will need to be comfortable dealing with a broad range of different people, from architects to builders, site managers, and contractors. Strong interpersonal skills are essential, as well as an ability to stay calm in stressful conditions. This is applicable in whatever country you work in, whether you are involved in the design of a new hospital wing in the UK or are working on the development of a luxury new build.

Being able to adapt to others is critical. You’ll be working with many other people, in and outside of your department, and the work you do will need to coordinate with their work. An ability to easily adapt to what’s happening in a project is helpful.

Good Decision-Making and Critical Thinking Skills

Architectural associates need excellent judgement and decision-making skills. You will need to examine the pros and cons of the various options for a design and figure out which one is likely to be the best course of action for the project. A big part of your job will be solving complex problems of an architectural nature. This will demand a lot of patience and logical thinking, as well as an ability to think outside the box.

Communication Skills

Don’t underestimate the importance of good communication skills. An architectural associate will have to deal with clients, contractors, architects, and other colleagues. Communicating well is not about getting your point across in meetings, it’s about being a good listener. If you don’t listen to what people are saying, how can you interpret what they want?
You will need great listening skills when working with clients. Be alert to non-verbal communication, such as their body language. This is an early warning sign a client or contractor is not happy or perhaps not confident about what’s happening with the project.

Friendliness, respect, empathy, and open-mindedness are all essential communication skills that make dealing with difficult clients and architects a lot easier. If you can work on your communication skills, stressful situations will be a lot easier to handle.

Ability to Deal with Stress

The job can be stressful when deadlines must be met, and it’s common for tempers to fray in the office and on-site. If you struggle to manage stress, the job might be difficult for you. While anyone can learn stress management techniques, not everyone can cope with a high-stress position. If you prefer a low-stress job, consider whether this career is right for you.

English Language Skills

In many projects, English is the main language spoken, so English language skills are highly desirable. Architectural associates should have a good grasp of English, a good technical vocabulary, and excellent grammar. Reading comprehension is also a useful skill, as you will have to read and comprehend complex work-related material as part of your job.

If this sounds like a job you’d enjoy, explore your options, and consider earning a relevant qualification.