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Become A Design Drafter

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Working As A Design Drafter

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $46,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Design Drafter Do

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:

  • Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects
  • Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
  • Add details to architectural plans from their knowledge of building techniques
  • Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new products
  • Work under the supervision of engineers or architects

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.

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How To Become A Design Drafter

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.

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Design Drafter Career Paths

Design Drafter
Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Engineer Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Engineer Superintendent
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Engineering Technician Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Engineering Technician Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Test Engineer Quality Assurance Engineer
Quality Assurance Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Senior Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineer Mechanical Engineer Senior Mechanical Designer
Lead Mechanical Designer
7 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Electrical Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Architectural Designer Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Estimator Construction Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Design Engineer Senior Project Engineer Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Electrical Engineer Service Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Design Drafter?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Drafter 4.9 years
Lead Drafter 4.3 years
Draftsman/Designer 4.3 years
Design Drafter 4.0 years
Draftsman 3.8 years
Design Technician 3.5 years
Structural Drafter 3.4 years
Detailer/Designer 3.2 years
Cadd Drafter 3.2 years
Autocad Drafter 3.2 years
Detail Drafter 3.0 years
Drafting Engineer 3.0 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Contract-Drafter 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Design Drafter
Drafter 23.5%
Designer 11.5%
Draftsman 6.3%
Internship 2.3%
Top Careers After Design Drafter
Designer 16.9%
Drafter 10.5%
Engineer 2.5%
Owner 2.4%

Do you work as a Design Drafter?

Design Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

73.8%

Female

19.5%

Unknown

6.7%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

17.5%

Black or African American

10.0%

Asian

7.4%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.3%

French

9.4%

German

5.7%

Russian

5.0%

Italian

3.8%

Cantonese

3.1%

Portuguese

3.1%

Mandarin

2.5%

Chinese

2.5%

Vietnamese

1.3%

Ukrainian

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Arabic

1.3%

Swedish

0.6%

Hmong

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%

Dari

0.6%

Bengali

0.6%

Thai

0.6%

Albanian

0.6%
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Design Drafter Education

Schools

University of Houston

11.1%

Houston Community College

9.5%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

8.0%

University of Phoenix

7.4%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

5.8%

Boston Architectural College

4.8%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

4.8%

A-Technical College

4.8%

Texas State Technical College - Waco

4.4%

Austin Community College

4.2%

Oklahoma State University

4.0%

Pennsylvania State University

4.0%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.8%

Weber State University

3.6%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

3.4%

State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred

3.4%

Porter and Chester Institute

3.4%

ITT Technical Institute-Portland

3.4%

Salt Lake Community College

3.4%

ITT Technical Institute-Boise

3.2%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

42.6%

Architecture

8.6%

Mechanical Engineering

8.4%

Business

4.8%

Graphic Design

4.3%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.7%

Engineering

3.3%

Civil Engineering

2.8%

Industrial Technology

2.6%

Interior Design

2.4%

Engineering Technology

2.4%

Project Management

2.0%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.0%

Electrical Engineering

1.8%

Construction Management

1.5%

Architectural Technology

1.4%

Computer Science

1.4%

Environmental Design

1.3%

Fine Arts

1.3%

Architectural Engineering

1.3%
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Degrees

Associate

35.1%

Bachelors

26.0%

Other

24.0%

Certificate

7.1%

Masters

5.3%

Diploma

2.1%

Doctorate

0.2%

License

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$46,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$33,000
Min 10%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$46,000
Median 50%
$64,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Targa Resources
Highest Paying City
Alameda, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.0 years
How much does a Design Drafter make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Design Drafter in the United States is $46,384 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $33,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $64,000.

Real Design Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Drafting/Designer VII Intecsea, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 01, 2012 $99,798 -
$136,427
Designer/Drafter Siemens Industry, Inc. Florham Park, NJ Dec 16, 2015 $80,550
Drafter & Designer for Aqplus Protek Management LLC Plainville, CT Sep 28, 2015 $75,400
Drafter & Designer for Aqplus Protek Management LLC Plainville, CT May 13, 2013 $75,400
Architecturla Drafter/Designer Safdie Architects LLC Somerville, MA Sep 10, 2015 $65,000
Designer, Mechanical Drafting Cosentini Associates New York, NY Sep 30, 2012 $64,480
Designer/Drafter The Fountain Group LLC Raleigh, NC Apr 11, 2011 $62,610
Design Drafter Cathedral Plumbing of Texas, LLC Carrollton, TX May 09, 2016 $60,000
Drafter/Designer Philips Medical Systems MR, Inc. NY Sep 25, 2011 $57,600
Chief Design Drafter Van Der Watt Engineering, LLC Thomasville, GA May 02, 2010 $56,189
Chief Design Drafter Van Der Watt Engineering, LLC Thomasville, GA May 06, 2010 $56,189
Architectural Design Drafter Mega Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. Queensbury, NY Nov 05, 2016 $55,286
Designer/Drafter Ellenzweig Associates, Inc. Boston, MA Nov 18, 2016 $55,000
Architectural Design Drafter Mega Engineering and Land Surveying, P.C. Queensbury, NY Jul 01, 2014 $50,088
Designer/Drafter Ellenzweig Associates, Inc. Cambridge, MA Nov 18, 2013 $50,000
Drafter-Furniture Designs Maxvil Upholstery Draperies Corp. Islandia, NY Jul 14, 2016 $48,422
Drafting Designer Premier Enterprise Co Inc. NY Sep 14, 2016 $48,000
Designer/Drafter 2 Steffian Bradley Limited Boston, MA Apr 18, 2012 $41,800 -
$50,000
Architectural Design Drafter Kerns Group Architects, P.C. Falls Church, VA Aug 13, 2015 $41,683
Architectural Design Drafter Rudell & Associates, Inc. Islandia, NY Mar 01, 2010 $41,600

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Top Skills for A Design Drafter

  1. Engineering Department
  2. Layout
  3. CAD
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Created and implemented improvement processes and procedures for the Engineering Department.
  • Verify systems are modeled according customer layouts and part requirements.
  • Created high-quality detailed drawings with AutoCAD, in which clearly and concisely conveyed all necessary information per engineering design concepts.
  • Produce 2D and 3D AutoCAD electrical assemblies and detail drawings of wiring harness, schematics and solid models for manufacturing.
  • Worked with limited input and assumes responsibility for aligning drafting results with customer specifications, shop procedures and practices.

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Top 10 Best States for Design Drafters

  1. Washington
  2. Arizona
  3. Connecticut
  4. Oklahoma
  5. New Mexico
  6. Texas
  7. Minnesota
  8. Colorado
  9. South Carolina
  10. Michigan
  • (118 jobs)
  • (98 jobs)
  • (86 jobs)
  • (50 jobs)
  • (18 jobs)
  • (405 jobs)
  • (142 jobs)
  • (115 jobs)
  • (86 jobs)
  • (141 jobs)

Top Design Drafter Employers

Jobs From Top Design Drafter Employers

Design Drafter Videos

What does a Mechanical Engineer do?

Designer/Draftsman, Career Video from drkit.org

Designer/Draftsman, Career Video from drkit.org

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