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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

  • $59,000

    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 Career Paths

Design Engineer/Drafter
Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Engineer Senior Software Engineer
Technical Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Product Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Designer Engineer Quality Assurance Engineer
Quality Assurance Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Designer Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Design Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Design Engineer Consultant Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Design Engineer Senior Engineer Group Leader
Section Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Design Drafter Senior Designer Project Manager/Design Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Design Drafter Senior Mechanical Designer Senior Manufacturing Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Design Drafter Electrical Designer Senior Engineering Technician
Engineering Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Process Engineer Product Development Engineer
Lead Product Developer
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Design Engineer/Drafter?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Drafter 4.9 years
Design Drafter 4.0 years
Design Engineer 3.4 years
Detail Drafter 3.0 years
Drafting Engineer 3.0 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Design Engineer/Drafter
Drafter 7.6%
Draftsman 6.1%
Engineer 3.6%
Supervisor 3.0%
Top Careers After Design Engineer/Drafter
Designer 5.9%
Drafter 5.2%
Owner 3.5%
Engineer 2.8%

Do you work as a Design Engineer/Drafter?

Average Yearly Salary
$59,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$39,000
Min 10%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$59,000
Median 50%
$90,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Kiewit
Highest Paying City
Middletown, NY
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.1 years
How much does a Design Engineer/Drafter make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Design Engineer/Drafter in the United States is $59,613 per year or $29 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $39,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $90,000.

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

  1. Assembly Drawings
  2. CAD
  3. Solid Models
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Communicated with General Contractors, Architects, Erectors and other Sub- contractors in order to create accurate assembly drawings.
  • Use ACAD to create/modify installation diagrams for manufacturing.
  • Create, design and manipulate solid models and drawings per engineering change notices utilizing SolidWorks 2014.
  • Produce shop drawings for use in fabrication of products & acquisition of permits.
  • Support of existing product lines along with assisting with new product development.

Design Engineer/Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

76.6%

Female

15.8%

Unknown

7.6%
Ethnicity

White

61.6%

Hispanic or Latino

14.8%

Black or African American

10.2%

Asian

9.0%

Unknown

4.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

36.8%

German

31.6%

French

10.5%

Swedish

5.3%

Persian

5.3%

Armenian

5.3%

Arabic

5.3%
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Design Engineer/Drafter Education

Schools

Wichita State University

8.0%

University of Texas at Austin

8.0%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

6.0%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

6.0%

University of Central Florida

6.0%

Rochester Institute of Technology

6.0%

Weber State University

6.0%

Northern Illinois University

6.0%

University of Illinois at Chicago

4.0%

University of Texas at Arlington

4.0%

Washington State University

4.0%

University of Wisconsin - Platteville

4.0%

Arizona State University

4.0%

University of South Florida

4.0%

San Jose State University

4.0%

Bradley University

4.0%

Temple University

4.0%

Georgia Institute of Technology -

4.0%

Kettering University

4.0%

Ohio State University

4.0%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

26.8%

Mechanical Engineering

20.1%

Civil Engineering

6.7%

Architecture

5.1%

Electrical Engineering

4.5%

Engineering

4.1%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.8%

Business

3.8%

Industrial Technology

3.5%

Computer Science

3.5%

Engineering And Industrial Management

3.2%

Graphic Design

2.9%

Management

2.2%

Project Management

1.9%

Environmental Design

1.6%

Computer Applications

1.6%

Industrial Engineering

1.6%

Fine Arts

1.3%

Architectural Technology

1.0%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.0%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.1%

Associate

23.1%

Other

18.8%

Masters

10.3%

Certificate

6.8%

Diploma

2.3%

Doctorate

0.8%
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