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Become A Draftsman/Designer

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Working As A Draftsman/Designer

  • 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

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Draftsman/Designer 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 Draftsman/Designer

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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Draftsman/Designer Career Paths

Draftsman/Designer
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Project Manager
Contract Project Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Design Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Project Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Engineer Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Project Manager Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Owner Facilities Manager
Director Of Facilities
11 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Senior Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Manufacturing Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Engineering Technician Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Freelance Designer Interior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Engineer Superintendent
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Drafter Design Drafter
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Consultant Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Maintenance Supervisor Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Drafter Estimator Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Electrical Engineer Service Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Draftsman/Designer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Drafter 4.9 years
Computer Designer 4.3 years
Facility Designer 4.1 years
Draftsman/Designer 4.0 years
Design Drafter 4.0 years
Draftsperson 3.9 years
Draftsman 3.8 years
Designer/Estimator 3.7 years
Autocad Designer 3.5 years
Autocad Draftsman 3.3 years
Autocad Drafter 3.2 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Contract-Drafter 2.1 years
Top Careers Before Draftsman/Designer
Draftsman 42.0%
Designer 6.6%
Drafter 2.9%
Internship 2.9%
Machinist 1.8%
Top Careers After Draftsman/Designer
Draftsman 11.2%
Designer 10.2%
Owner 3.9%
Engineer 2.7%
Drafter 2.6%

Do you work as a Draftsman/Designer?

Draftsman/Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

85.0%

Female

7.6%

Unknown

7.4%
Ethnicity

White

63.2%

Hispanic or Latino

15.6%

Black or African American

11.2%

Asian

6.4%

Unknown

3.5%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.8%

German

5.8%

French

5.8%

Japanese

4.7%

Carrier

4.7%

Russian

3.5%

Arabic

3.5%

Portuguese

2.3%

Chinese

2.3%

Ukrainian

2.3%

Italian

2.3%

Irish

1.2%

Dutch

1.2%

Filipino

1.2%

Vietnamese

1.2%

Mandarin

1.2%

Hindi

1.2%
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Draftsman/Designer Education

Schools

University of Houston

9.5%

Houston Community College

7.9%

Pennsylvania State University

7.6%

University of Phoenix

7.3%

Kent State University

6.0%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

5.7%

New Jersey Institute of Technology

4.7%

Purdue University

4.7%

More Tech Institute

4.7%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

4.4%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

4.1%

Arizona State University

4.1%

Texas A&M University

4.1%

A-Technical College

3.8%

Lawrence Technological University

3.8%

Macomb Community College

3.5%

Southern Illinois University Carbondale

3.5%

Salt Lake Community College

3.5%

Austin Community College

3.5%

Lorain County Community College

3.5%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

35.8%

Architecture

11.3%

Mechanical Engineering

9.2%

Business

6.2%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

4.2%

Engineering

3.7%

Graphic Design

3.7%

Industrial Technology

3.0%

Civil Engineering

2.9%

Electrical Engineering

2.6%

Environmental Design

2.5%

Interior Design

2.0%

Computer Science

1.9%

Construction Management

1.9%

Architectural Technology

1.8%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.7%

Engineering Technology

1.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.4%

Education

1.4%

Fine Arts

1.2%
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Degrees

Associate

30.2%

Other

28.1%

Bachelors

28.1%

Certificate

6.1%

Masters

5.0%

Diploma

2.1%

License

0.2%

Doctorate

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$36,000
Min 10%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$51,000
Median 50%
$73,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Leidos
Highest Paying City
South Gate, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.3 years
How much does a Draftsman/Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Draftsman/Designer in the United States is $52,035 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $36,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $73,000.

Real Draftsman/Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Designer/Draftsman Design Concepts Inc. Kapaa, HI Sep 05, 2013 $72,000
Design Draftsman-Residential Steven Winter Associates Inc. Norwalk, CT Mar 15, 2012 $66,000
CAD Draftman Husmann Corporation Aka Husmann Architecture, PLLC Houston, TX Mar 01, 2012 $65,728
CAD Draftman Husmann Corporation Aka Husmann Architecture, PLLC Houston, TX Mar 01, 2012 $64,667
CAD Draftsman Husmann Corporation Aka Husmann Architecture, PLLC Houston, TX Mar 01, 2011 $62,566
CAD Draftman Husmann Corporation Aka Husmann Architecture, PLLC Houston, TX Mar 01, 2013 $57,595
Design Draftsman National Oilwell Varco, L.P. Houston, TX Feb 06, 2010 $57,138 -
$77,138
CAD Draftsman Husmann Corporation Houston, TX Mar 01, 2010 $52,520
CAD Draftsman Coscia Day Architecture and Design Los Angeles, CA Sep 11, 2015 $48,000
Draftsman/Designer Waggonner & Ball Architects, APC New Orleans, LA Aug 25, 2013 $37,500

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How Would You Rate The Salary Of a Draftsman/Designer?

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Top Skills for A Draftsman/Designer

  1. Engineering Department
  2. Autocad
  3. Layout
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Work collaboratively with engineering department to design and modify drawings to engineering specifications for the manufacturing valve and controls industry.
  • Generated computer drawings using AutoCAD to design irrigation systems and landscapes.
  • Developed and designed schematic piping layouts, mechanical drawings and isometric details.
  • Produced detailed drawings and floor plans, from sketches, CAD files and reference information using the Auto Cad System.
  • Produced timely sales drawings to customer specifications using AutoCAD 2010.

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Top 10 Best States for Draftsman/Designers

  1. Washington
  2. Arizona
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Colorado
  5. New Jersey
  6. Minnesota
  7. South Carolina
  8. Texas
  9. New Mexico
  10. Utah
  • (154 jobs)
  • (134 jobs)
  • (42 jobs)
  • (128 jobs)
  • (108 jobs)
  • (107 jobs)
  • (84 jobs)
  • (311 jobs)
  • (10 jobs)
  • (39 jobs)

Top Draftsman/Designer Employers

Jobs From Top Draftsman/Designer Employers

Draftsman/Designer Videos

Designer/Draftsman, Career Video from drkit.org

Designer/Draftsman, Career Video from drkit.org

Mechanical Design Draftsman, Career Video from drkit.org

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