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Become A Detail Drafter

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Working As A Detail 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

  • $54,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Detail 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 Detail 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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Detail Drafter Career Paths

Detail Drafter
Design Drafter Designer Mechanical Designer
Senior Mechanical Designer
11 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Design Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Computer Aided Design Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Computer Aided Design Designer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Manager Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Estimator Project Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Estimator Manager Product Manager
Product Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Estimator Estimator Project Manager Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Project Engineer Information Technology Project Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Consultant Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Drafter Senior Designer Project Manager/Design Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Drafter Senior Mechanical Designer Senior Manufacturing Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Engineer Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Senior Electrical Engineer Senior Engineering Technician
Engineering Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Detailer/Designer Design Technician Job Captain
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Detail Drafter?

Highest Detail Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Drafter/Detailer Wheaton Detailing Service, Inc. Spring, TX Sep 04, 2015 $64,480
Detailer/Drafter Senior R & M Steel Co Caldwell, ID Sep 30, 2014 $62,610
Detailer/Drafter Senior R & M Steel Co Caldwell, ID Sep 30, 2011 $60,000
Drafting Detailer Brochsteins, Inc. Houston, TX Aug 28, 2013 $35,714

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Top Skills for A Detail Drafter

  1. Shop Drawings
  2. Assembly Drawings
  3. CAD
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed shop drawings from architectural & subcontractor plans and translating AutoCAD electronic files into MicroStation files.
  • Make math computations when needed to accurately define dimensional control on detail or assembly drawings.
  • Develop detailed design drawings and specifications for mechanical equipment and piping, using computer-assisted drafting (CAD) equipment.
  • Provided tool detail drawings and production drawing support for engineering department.
  • Produced clear and concise structural joist & deck layout drawings using computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software.

Detail Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

71.4%

Female

19.8%

Unknown

8.8%
Ethnicity

White

67.6%

Hispanic or Latino

13.4%

Black or African American

9.4%

Asian

6.3%

Unknown

3.3%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

62.5%

German

12.5%

Portuguese

12.5%

Polish

12.5%
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Detail Drafter Education

Schools

Vincennes University

9.2%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

6.6%

Ridgewater College

6.6%

Youngstown State University

5.3%

Drexel University

5.3%

Waukesha County Technical College

5.3%

A-Technical College

5.3%

Porter and Chester Institute

5.3%

Milwaukee Area Technical College

5.3%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

5.3%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

5.3%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

3.9%

TESST College of Technology - Alexandria

3.9%

Moraine Valley Community College

3.9%

ITT Technical Institute-San Antonio

3.9%

Front Range Community College

3.9%

University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee

3.9%

Rochester Institute of Technology

3.9%

ITT Technical Institute-Murray

3.9%

Bristol Community College

3.9%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

47.8%

Mechanical Engineering

5.7%

Engineering

5.2%

Business

4.0%

Industrial Technology

3.7%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.7%

Architectural Technology

3.7%

Graphic Design

3.5%

Architecture

3.2%

Civil Engineering

3.0%

Engineering Technology

2.7%

Project Management

2.7%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.5%

Computer Applications

1.7%

Electrical Engineering

1.5%

Education

1.2%

Construction Management

1.2%

Fine Arts

1.0%

Manufacturing Engineering

1.0%

Finance

1.0%
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Degrees

Associate

40.9%

Other

23.6%

Bachelors

18.9%

Certificate

8.7%

Masters

4.3%

Diploma

3.0%

License

0.4%

Doctorate

0.2%
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