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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
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Getting Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $45,000

    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 Career Paths

Drafter
Design Drafter Designer Project Manager
Contract Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Design Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Project Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Computer Aided Design Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Engineering Technician Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Field Engineer Project Coordinator
Senior Project Coordinator
7 Yearsyrs
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Senior Designer Senior Mechanical Designer
Lead Mechanical Designer
7 Yearsyrs
Piping Designer Senior Designer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Architectural Designer
Senior Architectural Designer
9 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Consultant Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineer Maintenance Supervisor Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineer Project Engineer Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Estimator Senior Project Manager Project Director
Manager, Project Director
8 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Field Service Technician Service Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Manufacturing Engineer Manufacturing Supervisor Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a 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
Computer Drafter 4.3 years
Design Drafter 4.0 years
Draftsperson 3.9 years
Draftsman 3.8 years
Autocad Operator 3.8 years
Structural Drafter 3.4 years
Autocad Drafter 3.2 years
Cadd Drafter 3.2 years
Drafting Engineer 3.0 years
Detail Drafter 3.0 years
Drafter 3.0 years
Electrical Drafter 2.9 years
Civil Drafter 2.6 years
Contract-Drafter 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Drafter
Designer 9.0%
Draftsman 6.9%
Internship 5.2%
Cashier 4.6%
Technician 3.0%
Manager 2.6%
Top Careers After Drafter
Designer 14.0%
Engineer 2.7%
Owner 2.1%
Manager 2.1%

Do you work as a Drafter?

Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

68.0%

Female

24.3%

Unknown

7.7%
Ethnicity

White

60.9%

Hispanic or Latino

17.6%

Black or African American

10.6%

Asian

7.1%

Unknown

3.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

59.5%

French

7.6%

German

6.8%

Russian

4.6%

Portuguese

4.6%

Mandarin

2.1%

Chinese

2.1%

Carrier

1.7%

Italian

1.7%

Vietnamese

1.3%

Greek

1.3%

Polish

1.3%

Arabic

1.3%

Dutch

0.8%

Bulgarian

0.8%

Ukrainian

0.8%

Swahili

0.4%

Gujarati

0.4%

Hindi

0.4%

Somali

0.4%
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Drafter Education

Schools

Houston Community College

9.9%

University of Phoenix

9.2%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

9.0%

University of Houston

7.9%

Austin Community College

6.5%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

5.2%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

5.0%

New England Institute of Technology

4.4%

Trident Technical College

4.0%

State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred

4.0%

San Jacinto College District

3.7%

University of Texas at Arlington

3.7%

A-Technical College

3.7%

Tulsa Community College

3.7%

Boston Architectural College

3.5%

ITT Technical Institute-Murray

3.4%

York Technical Institute

3.4%

Porter and Chester Institute

3.4%

Greenville Technical College

3.4%

Oklahoma State University

3.2%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

45.2%

Architecture

8.0%

Mechanical Engineering

6.9%

Business

5.6%

Civil Engineering

3.7%

Graphic Design

3.3%

Engineering

2.7%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.5%

Interior Design

2.3%

Electrical Engineering

2.2%

Construction Management

2.1%

Engineering Technology

2.1%

Industrial Technology

2.1%

Project Management

2.0%

Architectural Technology

1.9%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.8%

Computer Science

1.6%

Architectural Engineering

1.5%

Management

1.3%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.2%
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Degrees

Associate

37.9%

Bachelors

26.6%

Other

21.8%

Certificate

6.4%

Masters

4.8%

Diploma

2.0%

Doctorate

0.4%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$45,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$32,000
Min 10%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$45,000
Median 50%
$63,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Crane Co.
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
2.8 years
How much does a Drafter make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Drafter in the United States is $45,694 per year or $22 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $32,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $63,000.

Real Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Drafter Sheladia Associates Rockville, MD Oct 21, 2014 $65,000
Drafter II Hord Coplan MacHt, Inc. Baltimore, MD May 31, 2012 $64,000
Arquitectural Drafter Francois Frossard Design Inc. Miami, FL Oct 21, 2009 $61,136
Drafter Piatt Associates, Inc. Milton, MA Oct 01, 2014 $55,390
Architetectural Drafter/Desinger Safdie Architects LLC Somerville, MA Aug 13, 2012 $55,000
Drafter Hord Coplan MacHt, Inc. Baltimore, MD Sep 11, 2014 $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 Kwan WO Ironworks Inc. San Francisco, CA Oct 01, 2007 $53,281
Drafter, All Other Bamco, Inc. Middlesex, NJ Apr 30, 2008 $52,697
Drafter Northwest Arkansas Sheet Metal, Inc. Rogers, AR Aug 01, 2009 $52,175
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
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
Drafter Shalom Baranes Associates, P.C. Washington, DC Sep 20, 2012 $45,000
Project Drafter Archline Construction Group, Inc. Johns Creek, GA Sep 28, 2016 $45,000
3D Drafter Archibim, Inc. Sterling, VA Jan 04, 2016 $41,683
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
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

  1. Autocad
  2. Engineering Department
  3. Layout
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Implemented AutoCAD 2000, paper space, layer manager, and AutoLISP macro concepts, successfully resulting in drafting time minimization.
  • Perform other drafting duties as assigned and support other engineering departments when necessary.
  • Drafted detailed mechanical assembly drawings, electrical schematic diagrams, architectural layouts, and structural plans.
  • Developed CAD drawing from field sketches and prepared field photos from disk for inclusion in final report.
  • Interpreted floor plans, calculated voltage, electrical plans, point to point diagrams, riser diagrams, and mark ups.

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Top 10 Best States for Drafters

  1. Arizona
  2. New Mexico
  3. Washington
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Minnesota
  6. Alaska
  7. Texas
  8. South Carolina
  9. Connecticut
  10. Colorado
  • (62 jobs)
  • (11 jobs)
  • (43 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (60 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (133 jobs)
  • (41 jobs)
  • (27 jobs)
  • (45 jobs)

Top Drafter Employers

Jobs From Top Drafter Employers

Drafter Videos

AutoCAD Drafter | CAD2U.com

Become a Drafter

Mechanical Drafter Job Description

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