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Become A Design Engineer/Drafter

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Working As A Design Engineer/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

  • $60,993

    Average Salary

What Does A Design Engineer/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 Engineer/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 Engineer/Drafter Jobs

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Average Length of Employment
Senior Drafter 4.9 years
Design Drafter 3.9 years
Design Engineer 3.4 years
Detail Drafter 2.9 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Drafting Engineer 2.8 years
Top Employers Before
Draftsman 8.6%
Drafter 7.3%
Welder 3.2%
Engineer 2.7%
Internship 2.7%
Top Employers After
Designer 5.8%
Engineer 3.4%
Drafter 2.9%
Owner 2.4%

Do you work as a Design Engineer/Drafter?

Design Engineer/Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

80.0%

Female

17.5%

Unknown

2.5%
Ethnicity

White

61.4%

Hispanic or Latino

15.0%

Black or African American

10.0%

Asian

9.2%

Unknown

4.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

41.7%

German

33.3%

Swedish

8.3%

Arabic

8.3%

French

8.3%
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Design Engineer/Drafter Education

Schools

Wichita State University

6.8%

Rochester Institute of Technology

6.8%

University of Arkansas-Fort Smith

6.8%

Weber State University

6.8%

Bradley University

4.5%

Temple University

4.5%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.5%

Pennsylvania State University

4.5%

Red Rocks Community College

4.5%

Northeast Iowa Community College

4.5%

Porter and Chester Institute

4.5%

Northeastern University

4.5%

West Texas A&M University

4.5%

ITT Technical Institute-Norfolk

4.5%

Colorado State University

4.5%

Virginia College - Birmingham

4.5%

University of Maine

4.5%

El Camino College

4.5%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

4.5%

Southeastern Louisiana University

4.5%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

25.4%

Mechanical Engineering

21.2%

Computer Science

4.7%

Architecture

4.7%

Civil Engineering

4.7%

Electrical Engineering

4.7%

Industrial Technology

4.1%

Business

4.1%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.6%

Engineering

3.6%

Graphic Design

3.6%

Engineering And Industrial Management

3.1%

Management

2.1%

Computer Applications

2.1%

Industrial Engineering

2.1%

Mathematics

1.6%

Project Management

1.6%

Architectural Technology

1.0%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.0%

Interior Design

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

37.2%

Associate

21.9%

Other

19.4%

Masters

9.7%

Certificate

7.7%

Diploma

2.8%

Doctorate

1.2%
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Real Design Engineer/Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
3D Design and Drafting Engineer Patton Enterprises, Inc. Webster, TX Feb 17, 2014 $156,525
3D Design and Drafting Engineer Patton Enterprises, Inc. Webster, TX Jul 20, 2013 $156,525
3D Design and Drafting Engineer Patton Enterprises, Inc. Houston, TX Dec 17, 2010 $81,393 -
$104,350
Engineer Designer/Drafter The Fountain Group LLC Raleigh, NC Apr 11, 2011 $62,610
Civil Engineering Design Drafter Quality Control Laboratories, LLC NY Oct 01, 2013 $52,000
Civil Engineering Design Drafter Rudell & Associates, Inc. Islandia, NY Oct 02, 2009 $52,000
Civil Engineering Design Drafter Twin Peaks, Inc. Islandia, NY Mar 08, 2011 $47,133
Civil Engineering Design Drafter Twin Peaks, Inc. Islandia, NY Nov 07, 2011 $41,642
Civil Engineering Design Drafter Twin Peaks, Inc. Islandia, NY Nov 15, 2011 $41,642

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Top Skills for A Design Engineer/Drafter

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  1. Design Drawings
  2. CAD
  3. Solid Models
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Generated layouts, detail, assembly, installation, basic design calculations and design drawings.
  • Reverse-engineered and modeled gate valve test/repair/assembly fixture to document in CAD database.
  • Create, design and manipulate solid models and drawings per engineering change notices utilizing SolidWorks 2014.
  • Perform all Engineering Department duties in compliance with NSF standards.
  • Coordinated activities with manufacturing teams to compare and confirm component layouts.

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Top Design Engineer/Drafter Employers

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Jobs From Top Design Engineer/Drafter Employers

Design Engineer/Drafter Videos

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