Careers in the drafting field require drafters to construct technical draws and plans that are used by architects and engineers to develop buildings, roads, bridges, micro-chips, and even manufactured toys. Often times, drafters use their skills to fill in technical details that are needed for architects and engineers. They usually are employed in engineering and architectural firms. There are also drafters who work for government agencies.
Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems are used by most drafters to develop drawings and sketches. CADD systems allow drafters to quickly implement changes and share their drawings with other professionals they are working with. The work created on CADD systems can be easily printed and manipulated in whatever is necessary. Even though most drafters use this system, it is still important for them to have an understanding of other drafting techniques.
There are several important factors they are used to determine salaries for individuals with careers in drafting. Drafters’ earnings vary by location, skill, experience, level of responsibility, and specialty.
Architectural and civil drafters’ average salary was $47,710 in 2009 The top 10% earned over $ 69,610, the middle half earned between $36,170 and $57,420, and the lowest 10% earned below $28,220.*
Mechanical drafters’ average salary was $49,790 in 2009. The top 10% earned over $73,050, the middle half earned between $37,840 and $59,740, and the lowest 10% earned below $30,640.*
Electrical and electronics drafters’ average salary was $54,800 in 2009. The top 10% earned over $80,960, the middle half earned between $41,190 and $66,280, and the lowest 10% earned below $33,140.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Drafters typically receive standard health, medical, and life insurance benefits. They also receive standard 401(k) and annual leave benefits.
Job Description and Outlook
There are several specializations within the drafting field. Each specialization has its own list of activities and jobs descriptions. Entry-level drafters often perform routine work and are closely supervised. After several years of experience, a drafter may be promoted to a higher position with more responsibility and less supervision. Some drafters go on to four-year colleges and universities to pursue engineering and architecture degrees. Some locations have higher needs for certain types of drafters than other locations. For example, states such as Texas and Louisiana may have a higher need for pipeline drafters because of the high number of oil and gas refineries in the area.
Aeronautical drafters prepare engineering drawings to be used in the designing and manufacturing of airplanes, missiles, and other aircraft related materials.
Architectural drafters prepare technical drawings to be used in the construction of residential and commercial buildings.
Civil drafters are often used in civil engineering projects. They prepare technical drawings to be used in the construction process of bridges, highways, sewer systems, flood control projects, and pipelines.
Electrical drafters prepare technical diagrams and layouts for wiring needed in power plants, buildings, communication centers, and electrical equipment.
Electronic drafters do similar work as electrical drafters. However, they primarily work with electronic components and devices.
Mechanical drafters prepare technical drawings that are used in the construction and repair of machinery and mechanical devices.
Pipeline drafters prepare drawings used in the designing and construction of pipelines, oil and gas refineries, and chemical plants.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, drafters can expect slower job growth than the average growth of all other occupations. A 4% job growth is expected though 2018. Drafters with at least 2 years of post-secondary training will have the greatest opportunities for jobs.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Training and Educational Requirements
Drafters have better employment opportunities if they have completed post-secondary education from community colleges, technical schools, or some college training from a four-year college or university. Employees must possess excepting drafting skills and are encouraged to have solid mathematical, science, and engineering technology skills.
Community colleges offer drafting programs and certificates. Students that attend community colleges are required to take classes in general subjects such as math and science. Students can earn an associate’s degree in drafting from a community college.
Technical schools are more specialized. Most of their classes are directly related to the drafting field. Students can receive two-year degrees from many technical schools.
Four-year colleges and universities typically do not offer drafting degree programs. They do however, offer bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D degrees in engineering.
Some technical training received in the armed forces can prepare individuals for careers in the drafting field, but usually additional coursework is required to meet employer hiring specifications.
It is important to research schools carefully. Schools that offer drafting programs differ greatly.
There is no certification that is required for drafters, although some employers encourage employees to seek voluntary certifications. Certifications demonstrate knowledge of drafting concepts, and some certified drafters receive higher salaries and more lucrative positions.
There are not many certifications offered to individuals in the drafting field. The one certification that can be obtained is listed below:
- The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers a certification. Individuals are required to pass the Drafter Certification Test to become certified.