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Become A Drafter

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Working As A 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

  • $41,746

    Average Salary

What Does A 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 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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Drafter jobs

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Drafter Career Paths

Drafter
Computer Aided Drafter Design Drafter Architectural Designer
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Piping Designer Senior Designer Art Director
Contract Designer
6 Yearsyrs
Computer Aide Computer Aided Design Designer Designer
Design Checker
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Field Engineer Estimator
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineer Architect Interior Designer
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Computer Aided Design Designer Mechanical Designer
Lead Mechanical Designer
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer
Lead Mechanical Engineer
9 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Product Development Engineer
Project Management Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Computer Aide Computer Aided Drafter Design Drafter
Senior Design Drafter
8 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer
Senior Designer
6 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Design Drafter Senior Designer
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Electrical Designer
Senior Electrical Designer
13 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Mechanical Designer
Senior Mechanical Designer
11 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer Mechanical Engineer
Senior Mechanical Engineer
11 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Piping Designer Structural Designer
Senior Structural Designer
13 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Structures Engineer
Senior Structural Engineer
13 Yearsyrs
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Drafter Demographics

Gender

  • Male

    72.4%
  • Female

    26.0%
  • Unknown

    1.7%

Ethnicity

  • White

    78.0%
  • Hispanic or Latino

    12.8%
  • Asian

    6.9%
  • Unknown

    1.8%
  • Black or African American

    0.6%
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Languages Spoken

  • Spanish

    57.6%
  • German

    7.6%
  • French

    6.4%
  • Russian

    5.2%
  • Portuguese

    3.5%
  • Vietnamese

    2.3%
  • Carrier

    2.3%
  • Italian

    2.3%
  • Greek

    1.7%
  • Polish

    1.7%
  • Arabic

    1.7%
  • Dutch

    1.2%
  • Mandarin

    1.2%
  • Bulgarian

    1.2%
  • Chinese

    1.2%
  • Swahili

    0.6%
  • Gujarati

    0.6%
  • Hindi

    0.6%
  • Somali

    0.6%
  • Hebrew

    0.6%
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Drafter Education

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Real Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Achitectural Drafters Moulin & Associates Inc. New York, NY Nov 24, 2008 $75,000
Drafter Sheladia Associates Rockville, MD Oct 21, 2014 $65,000
Drafter II Hord Coplan MacHt, Inc. Baltimore, MD May 31, 2012 $64,000
Architerctural Drafter SGV International, LLC Houston, TX Sep 30, 2015 $62,587 -
$100,000
Architerctural Drafter SGV International, LLC Houston, TX Sep 30, 2015 $62,400 -
$100,000
Arquitectural Drafter Francois Frossard Design Inc. Miami, FL Oct 21, 2009 $61,136
Drafter Piatt Associates, Inc. Milton, MA Oct 01, 2014 $55,390
Drafter Hord Coplan MacHt, Inc. Baltimore, MD Sep 11, 2014 $55,000
Architetectural Drafter/Desinger Safdie Architects LLC Somerville, MA Aug 13, 2012 $55,000
Drafter Agar Corporation Houston, TX Oct 01, 2011 $54,642
Intermediate Drafter Noll and Tam Architects Berkeley, CA Dec 18, 2009 $54,021
Drafter Sheladia Associates, Inc. Rockville, MD Sep 13, 2012 $54,000
Drafter Jaros, Baum & Bolles Consulting Engineers New York, NY Sep 30, 2009 $54,000 -
$55,000
Drafter Hord Coplan MacHt, Inc. Baltimore, MD Sep 19, 2012 $47,709
Drafter Shalom Baranes Associates, P.C. Washington, DC Mar 16, 2010 $47,200
Drafter A S Architects, Inc. Linthicum, MD Sep 12, 2014 $46,987
Architectual Drafter Deems Lewis McKinley San Francisco, CA Nov 29, 2010 $46,958
Drafter Unity Marine, Inc. DBA Yacht Path FL Sep 01, 2011 $45,914
Drafter, All Other Bamco, Inc. Middlesex, NJ Apr 02, 2009 $45,079
Project Drafter Archline Construction Group, Inc. Johns Creek, GA Sep 28, 2016 $45,000
Drafter Rietveld Architects, LLP New York, NY Sep 07, 2013 $40,862
Drafter Ext-Tech LLC New York, NY Jun 09, 2016 $40,643
Drafter Ext-Tech LLC New York, NY Sep 03, 2015 $40,643
Green Infrastructure Drafter Parks & People Foundation Baltimore, MD Sep 18, 2014 $40,602
Architectectural Drafter Pedro J. Flaquer New York, NY Dec 01, 2010 $40,040
Arhitectural Drafter Atelier New York Architecture PC NY Oct 01, 2011 $40,040
Drafter Hord Coplan MacHt, Inc. Baltimore, MD Sep 14, 2013 $40,000
Drafter Tighe Architecture, Inc. Santa Monica, CA Sep 23, 2014 $39,862

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Top Skills for A Drafter

AutocadR14AutoCADEngineeringDepartmentLayoutDrawingsSolidModelsPAs-BuiltDrawingsFloorPlansShopDrawingsAssemblyDrawingsDetailDrawingsHvacAutodeskInventorArchitecturalDrawingsConstructionDocuments3DDrawingsModelsBOMEngineeringDrawingsCNCRevit

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Top Drafter Skills

  1. Autocad R14
  2. Auto CAD
  3. Engineering Department
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Job Duties: Lighting and power distribution for commercial projects using AutoCAD R14
  • Designed the plumbing and excavation for in ground pools using Auto Cad
  • Prepared technical drawing and plans sketch by Engineering Department.
  • Prepared Continuous Caster layout drawings, assembly drawings and detail drawings.
  • Created solid models of concept parts.

Top Drafter Employers

Drafter Videos

AutoCAD Drafter | CAD2U.com

Become a Drafter

Mechanical Drafter Job Description

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