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Become A Structural Drafter

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Working As A Structural 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

  • $51,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Structural 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 Structural 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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Structural Drafter Career Paths

Structural Drafter
Structural Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Structural Designer Senior Designer Project Manager
Director Of Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Structural Designer Senior Designer Owner
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Design Engineer Project Engineer
Construction Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Project Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Civil Drafter Civil Designer
Senior Structural Designer
14 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Engineer Design Engineer
Contractor-Design Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Civil Drafter Design Technician Architectural Designer
Senior Architectural Designer
9 Yearsyrs
Civil Drafter Design Technician Lead Designer
Contract Designer
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Designer Lead Designer Project Manager/Design Manager
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Senior Structural Designer Principal Designer Project Manager/Design Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Electrical Drafter Electrical Designer Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Electrical Drafter Electrical Designer
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
Structures Engineer Lead Engineer Section Manager
Manager Of Engineering Department
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Structural Drafter?

Structural Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

68.3%

Female

19.6%

Unknown

12.1%
Ethnicity

White

58.1%

Hispanic or Latino

20.7%

Black or African American

10.4%

Asian

7.6%

Unknown

3.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

92.3%

Filipino

7.7%

Structural Drafter Education

Schools

University of Houston

9.0%

ITT Technical Institute-Houston West

9.0%

Delgado Community College

7.7%

Houston Community College

7.7%

Triangle Tech Inc-Pittsburgh

6.4%

Hennepin Technical College

5.1%

Glendale Community College

5.1%

ITT Technical Institute-Jacksonville

3.8%

Anthem College - Phoenix

3.8%

ITT Technical Institute-Portland

3.8%

ITT Technical Institute-Arlington

3.8%

University of Central Florida

3.8%

Arapahoe Community College

3.8%

Lake Washington Institute of Technology

3.8%

National University

3.8%

Wichita State University

3.8%

Texas State Technical College - Waco

3.8%

Strayer University

3.8%

ITT Technical Institute-Murray

3.8%

Porter and Chester Institute

3.8%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

41.5%

Civil Engineering

10.2%

Architecture

8.7%

Business

5.3%

Mechanical Engineering

3.6%

Engineering

3.4%

Engineering Technology

3.2%

Graphic Design

3.2%

Architectural Technology

2.7%

Engineering And Industrial Management

2.4%

Electrical Engineering

2.2%

Industrial Technology

1.9%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

1.9%

General Studies

1.7%

Architectural Engineering

1.7%

Computer Information Systems

1.5%

Construction Management

1.5%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.2%

Computer Science

1.2%

Project Management

1.0%
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Degrees

Associate

37.9%

Other

24.6%

Bachelors

24.6%

Certificate

7.3%

Masters

3.1%

Diploma

2.2%

License

0.2%

Doctorate

0.2%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$51,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$30,000
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%
$87,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Jacobs Engineering Group
Highest Paying City
Anchorage, AK
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.4 years
How much does a Structural Drafter make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Structural Drafter in the United States is $51,808 per year or $25 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $30,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $87,000.

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Top Skills for A Structural Drafter

  1. Engineering Department
  2. CAD
  3. Layout
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Performed manual structural drafting for structural engineering department.
  • Utilized AutoCAD to create and prepare construction details as well as other aspects of structural drawings.
  • Revised electrical conduit layout drawings, performed steel and mechanical detailing, and modified existing foundation and general arrangements.
  • Coordinate location of new construction with existing condition according survey.
  • Developed elevations with horizontal and vertical section detail drawings.

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Top 10 Best States for Structural Drafters

  1. Arizona
  2. Illinois
  3. Georgia
  4. North Dakota
  5. Connecticut
  6. Oklahoma
  7. Iowa
  8. Louisiana
  9. Oregon
  10. Alaska
  • (35 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (191 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (12 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (9 jobs)
  • (28 jobs)
  • (1 jobs)

Top Structural Drafter Employers

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Jobs From Top Structural Drafter Employers

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