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Architectural Model Maker Job Description, Career as an Architectural Model Maker, Salary, Employment

Definition and Nature of the Work, Education and Training Requirements, Getting the Job

Education and Training: Varies—see profile

Salary: Varies—see profile

Employment Outlook: Poor

Definition and Nature of the Work

Architectural model makers create scale models of proposed construction projects. These projects include schools, shopping centers, housing developments, hospitals, bridges, and office buildings. Models are useful because, unlike blueprints or plans, they show exactly what the building will look like. They are effective in presentations, because they can help to persuade a committee or governmental board to raise funds for a building or project.

Architectural models vary in complexity from an arrangement of painted boxes to a layout that includes scaled-down trees, grass, human figures, and electric lights. The architect decides on the amount of detail that is necessary, and the model maker creates either a simple or complex model, or both.

Model makers begin with the architect's detailed blueprints and drawings. They then plan the construction stages of the model so that everything is done in the proper order. For example, the windows of a building must be designed and cut at a certain stage of the model's construction.

Model makers use materials such as wood, Plexiglas, Lucite, and Styrofoam to make different parts of the models. In some cases they order specially designed materials and miniature building parts from supply houses. For example, some models may need specific lighting fixtures, or they may need to be assembled in different sections that come apart to show the inside of the building. Model makers use glue, paste, and paint to construct the models. They use special drills for plastic, glue guns, miniature screwdrivers, and other precision cutting and measuring tools. They must be careful and neat.

Education and Training Requirements

For entry-level positions in this field, there is no specific training available. High school classes in drafting, mechanical drawing, shop (especially wood shop), and fine arts can be helpful, as can college courses in fine arts and drafting. Students can get experience by working for an architectural or model-making firm during the summer.

Architectural model makers create scale models of proposed construction projects that, unlike blueprints or plans, show exactly what the building will look like. (© Peter Beck/Corbis.)

Getting the Job

The two major employers of model makers are model-making companies and architectural firms. Most architectural firms do not hire model makers permanently, mainly because models are not needed for every project. However, some large architectural firms in major cities have one or more full-time model makers.

Most architectural model makers work for companies that specialize in making models and creating the films, drawings, and charts used in presentations for builders or owners. Many model-making firms are based in or near large cities. The names and addresses of such companies can be found in the Yellow Pages under the listing "Model Makers." Architectural firms, newspaper classifieds, Internet job banks, placement offices at art schools, and state employment offices are good sources of job information.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Advancement for fully qualified model makers is usually in the form of higher earnings. A few highly skilled model makers may open their own firms. The employment outlook is poor because so many architects work with computer-aided design (CAD) software, which provides three-dimensional views of structures. The competition for jobs in model making can be stiff. People with the greatest skill, talent, and desire usually have the best chance of finding a job.

Working Conditions

Model makers do most of their work in clean, well-lighted offices. They may have their own offices or they may work in large rooms with others. A steady hand and a good eye for detail, proportion, and color are important qualities for a model maker. Because some models are divided into sections, each made by a different person, an ability to work well with others is also important.

Where to Go for More Information

American Design Drafting Association
105 E. Main St.
Newbern, TN 38059
(731) 627-0802
http://www.adda.org

American Institute of Architecture Students
1735 New York Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20006
(202) 626-7472
http://www.aias.org

International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers
8630 Fenton St., Ste. 400
Silver Spring, MD 20910
(301) 565-9016
http://www.ifpte.org

Earnings and Benefits

Earnings in this field almost always depend on the worker's skill, along with the size of the company and its geographical location. A full-time skilled model maker usually earns between $24,000 and $35,000 per year. Model makers' hours may vary. Models are usually developed only in the final stages of design, so long hours may be required to meet important deadlines. For full-time employees, benefits generally include life and health insurance, pension plans, and paid vacations.

Additional topics

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