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Drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.Duties
Drafters typically do the following:
Many drafters are referred to as CAD operators. Using CAD systems, drafters create and store technical drawings digitally. These drawings contain information on how to build a structure or machine, the dimensions of the project, and what materials are needed to complete the project.
Drafters work with CAD so they can create schematics that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into building information modeling (BIM) systems. These systems allow drafters, architects, construction managers, and engineers to create and collaborate on digital models of physical buildings and machines. Through three-dimensional rendering, BIM software allows designers and engineers to see how different elements in their projects work together.
Architectural drafters draw architectural and structural features of buildings for construction projects. These workers may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. They may also specialize by the materials used, such as steel, wood, or reinforced concrete.
Civil drafters prepare topographical maps used in construction and civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, and flood-control projects.
Electrical drafters prepare wiring diagrams that other construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in power plants, electrical distribution systems, and residential and commercial buildings.
Electronics drafters produce wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams for circuit boards, and layout drawings used in manufacturing and in installing and repairing electronic devices and components.
Mechanical drafters prepare layouts that show the details for a wide variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices, such as medical equipment. These layouts indicate dimensions, fastening methods, and other requirements needed for assembly. Mechanical drafters sometimes create production molds.
Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate’s degree in drafting.Education
Drafters generally need to complete postsecondary education in drafting. This is typically done through a 2-year associate’s degree from a technical institute or community college.
Technical institutes offer instruction in design fundamentals, sketching, and CAD (computer-aided design) software and award certificates or diplomas upon completion. Programs vary in length but are generally 2 years of full-time education. The types of courses offered will also vary by institution. Some institutions may specialize in only one type of drafting, such as mechanical or architectural drafting.
Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes that lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or related degree. After completing an associate’s degree program, graduates may get jobs as drafters or continue their education in a related field at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer training in drafting, but they do offer classes in engineering, architecture, and mathematics.
To prepare for postsecondary education, high school students who take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and where available, drafting, may find such classes useful.Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. Although not mandatory, certification demonstrates competence and knowledge of nationally recognized practices. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.Important Qualities
Creativity. Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings that will guide the creation of real buildings, tools, and systems.
Detail oriented. Drafters must pay close attention to details so that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications.
Interpersonal skills. Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to take advice and constructive criticism, as well as to offer it.
Math skills. Drafters work on technical drawings. They may be required to solve mathematical calculations involving factors such as angles, weights, and costs.
Technical skills. Drafters in all specialties must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as BIM (building information modeling).
Time-management skills. Drafters often work under strict deadlines. As a result, they must work efficiently in order to produce the required output according to set schedules.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Architectural Drafter
Top Careers After Architectural Drafter
Hispanic or Latino14.7%
Black or African American0.9%
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Lawrence Technological University9.3%
Southern Illinois University Carbondale7.0%
Boston Architectural College7.0%
Wentworth Institute of Technology5.8%
Savannah College of Art and Design5.8%
Pittsburgh Technical Institute5.8%
University of Phoenix5.8%
Northwest Technical Institute4.7%
Porter and Chester Institute4.7%
New Jersey Institute of Technology4.7%
North Dakota State College of Science4.7%
City College of New York of the City University of New York4.7%
Oregon State University4.7%
Weber State University4.7%
Academy of Art University3.5%
Minneapolis Community and Technical College3.5%
Saint Cloud Technical College3.5%
Triangle Tech Inc-Pittsburgh3.5%
Saint Louis Community College3.5%
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|Job Title||Company||Location||Start Date||Salary|
|Architectural Drafting Manager||Jaynes Structures, Inc.||Albuquerque, NM||Mar 28, 2016||$115,669|
|Architectural Drafter/Designer||Safdie Architects LLC||Somerville, MA||Nov 30, 2015||$85,000|
|Architectural Drafter/Designer||RXR Constuction and Development LLC||New York, NY||Jun 20, 2016||$84,000|
|Architectural Drafter||RXR Construction and Development LLC||New York, NY||Feb 08, 2016||$84,000|
|Architectural Drafting Manager||Jaynes Structures, Corp.||Albuquerque, NM||Apr 20, 2015||$82,082|
|Architectural Drafter||Cross Country Construction LLC||Elmsford, NY||Nov 15, 2015||$80,000|
|Architectural Drafter||OBM Miami||Coral Gables, FL||May 31, 2016||$78,000|
|Architectural Drafter||Rafael Vinoly, Architects P.C.||New York, NY||Feb 05, 2015||$71,400 -
|Architectural Drafter||Think! Architecture and Design PLLC||New York, NY||Jan 09, 2016||$70,000|
|Architectural Drafter||Robert Hidey Architects Inc.||Irvine, CA||Aug 31, 2016||$70,000|
|Architectural Drafter||Behar Font & Partners Pa||Coral Gables, FL||Jan 09, 2016||$70,000|
|Architectural Drafter||Sigma Engineering, Inc.||Chicago, IL||Sep 15, 2015||$69,347|
|Architectural Drafter||Gehry Partners LLP||Los Angeles, CA||Aug 08, 2016||$69,120|
|Architectural Drafter||Volmar Construction, Inc.||New York, NY||Nov 09, 2016||$65,790|
|Architectural Drafter||White Architects LLC||Monroe, CT||Dec 13, 2016||$49,878|
|Architectural Drafter||The Don Vita Company, Inc.||San Rafael, CA||Sep 04, 2015||$49,817|
|Architectural Drafter||Karin Payson Architecture and Design||San Francisco, CA||Aug 01, 2015||$49,817|
|Architectural Drafter||SB Architects||San Francisco, CA||Sep 10, 2015||$49,650|
|Architectural Drafter||Tannerhecht, Inc.||San Francisco, CA||Sep 01, 2015||$49,650|
|Architectural Drafter||Blasen Landscape Architecture, Inc.||San Anselmo, CA||Sep 04, 2015||$49,650|
|Architectural Drafter||Contempo Builder LLC||Katy, TX||Aug 07, 2016||$49,629|
|Architectural Drafter||Contempo Builder LLC||Katy, TX||Jun 28, 2016||$49,629|
|Architectural Drafter||LMW Engineering Group, LLC||Linden, NJ||Jan 26, 2016||$43,867|
|Architectural Drafter||Space Light Structure Design, Inc.||South Pasadena, CA||Sep 23, 2016||$43,848|
|Architectural Drafter||Space Light Structure Design, Inc.||South Pasadena, CA||Aug 09, 2016||$43,848|
|Architectural Drafter||Basis & Associates, Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Sep 22, 2016||$43,848|
|Architectural Drafter||Whitestone Designs Inc.||Los Angeles, CA||Aug 16, 2016||$43,848|
|Architectural Drafter||Gunkel Architecture||Emeryville, CA||Aug 26, 2015||$43,827 -
|Architectural Drafter||Gunkel Architecture||Emeryville, CA||Feb 09, 2016||$43,827 -
|Architectural Drafter||Max Parangi Architects P.C.||White Plains, NY||Aug 26, 2015||$43,827 -
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Architectural Drafting at SCC
Architectural Drafting | College of the Canyons