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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:
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.
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.
Average Length of Employment
Top Careers Before Drafter
Top Careers After Drafter
Hispanic or Latino12.8%
Black or African American0.6%
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University of Phoenix9.4%
Houston Community College9.1%
Trident Technical College5.9%
University of Houston5.3%
Austin Community College5.3%
State University of New York College of Technology at Alfred5.3%
Greenville Technical College5.3%
Wentworth Institute of Technology5.0%
Pennsylvania State University5.0%
ITT Technical Institute-Houston West4.7%
New England Institute of Technology4.4%
Porter and Chester Institute4.4%
Boston Architectural College4.4%
Oklahoma State University4.1%
ITI Technical College4.1%
Tulsa Community College3.8%
Pittsburgh Technical Institute3.4%
ITT Technical Institute-Boise3.4%
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|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 -
|Architerctural Drafter||SGV International, LLC||Houston, TX||Sep 30, 2015||$62,400 -
|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 -
|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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