Draftsman vs. Architect, or Designer......what is the difference?

Simply put, an architect is licensed by a State Occupational Licensing Board to do architecture in a particular state. To be licensed, you must have graduated from an accredited architectural program (usually a five or six-year program), then you complete an internship that takes many years of shadowing a licensed architect. Then when you have satisfied the internship requirements, you study like a mad person and sit for seven different exams (at least for the State of Idaho – places like California have their own licensing process that is even more complicated). This sometimes takes years to accomplish. These exams are unlike any college exam……..I am happy to show my study notes and flash cards to anyone who might be curious, or are nay-sayers. If you pass these exams, you get to work as a licensed architect. A Draftsman is anyone who desires to buy a drafting program and draw up house plans. No schooling or experience is required. A designer can be the same as a draftsman….as you might guess, anyone can be a designer. House plans generally don’t require a licensed architect, which is why you see designers and draftsmen often building a great business in this profession. However, most city and county building and planning departments, at the very minimum, require engineered drawings with a professional stamp on them. Commercial projects require both a licensed architect and engineer. My architectural license requires that I care for the Health, Safety and Welfare of the Public in my designs and drawings, and that I can navigate code books, and local jurisdictional requirements, understand site contours and grading etc. But I get to be a designer and draftsman too. The best of all worlds!!


-Shelli