Drafters essential career information:
- 2012 median pay: $46,110
- 2011, number of jobs: 205,100
- Employment growth forecast, 2010-2020: 6 percent
- Entry level education requirements: Associate’s degree
Drafters; what they do:
Figuratively speaking, drafters wear many hats and use plans from different fields, such as construction, to build just about everything from houses and space shuttles to skyscrapers and microchips. It’s a rewarding job for people with great attention for detail, who find enjoyment in creating visual representations for objects.
A drafter career includes using software called CADD, short for computer-aided design and drafting, to convert the designs of production and construction workers into technical drawings and plans. However, with the advent of new drafting technology software such as three-dimensional building information modeling (BIM) and product data management (PDM), drafters perform drafting and design work at the same time as the work performed with other people involved in the same project.
While working under the supervision of architects and engineers, drafters produce designs using their understanding of engineering and manufacturing techniques. A drafting career involves adding structural details to architectural plans as well as preparing multiple versions of designs for review by engineers and architects. A drafting career also includes specifying dimensions, materials, and procedures for new building projects or products.
Drafters job titles:
- CAD drafter
- AutoCAD drafter
- Mechanical drafter
- Aeronautical drafter
- Architectural drafter
- Civil drafter
- Electrical drafter
- Electronics drafter
- Process piping drafter
- Pipeline drafter
Drafters Education, Certification and License Requirements
People seeking a drafting career typically need some postsecondary education, such as an Associate of Drafting Technology degree, an Associate Computer Drafting and Design degree or an Associate CAD Drafting degree from a technical or community college to enter the field. However, if a drafter specializes in architecture they may need higher education such as a bachelor’s degree. Many colleges provide a Bachelor of Computer-Aided Drafting and Design degree program.
Technical institutes offer various certificates and diplomas that vary in length and scope as well as associate degree programs. Community colleges offer similar programs.
After acquiring an associate’s degree, individuals may work as a drafter or obtain more education in a related field at a four-year college.
Some drafters apply their technical training acquired during military service to civilian drafting jobs, however some additional training may be necessary.
Drafting programs cover subjects such as:
- Technical drafting
- Electromechanical drafting
- Computer-aided drafting
- Circuit board design
- Architectural blue print reading
- Architectural drafting
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) provides a certification program for drafters; typically employers don’t require drafters to have certification, however certification demonstrates a drafter’s knowledge of nationally recognized practices. The test does not cover software, specific to CADD or graphic production.
Drafters Job Outlook
Forecast: Six percent employment growth from 2010 to 2020 for drafters, slower than the average for all occupations. However, growth varies by specialty.
Construction projects as well as new money saving software programs, such as BIM and PDM, continue to create demand for architectural and civil drafters. Most mechanical, electrical and electronic drafters work in declining manufacturing industries, offering few openings for growth. Consequently, demand for mechanical as well as electrical and electronic drafters should be higher in engineering and drafting service companies due to more complex problems associated with new manufacturing processes.
- 2012 median annual wage: $46,110
- 2012, workers at the 75th percentile earned: $58,910
- 2012, workers at the 25th percentile earned: $35,690
- Architectural, engineering and related services
- Machinery, fabricated metal product and transportation equipment manufacturing