Drafter Job Description
Drafters use CADD software to convert engineering and architectural designs into plans that construction and production workers can use to build the products or buildings.
The plans that drafters create show the technical details of the products and buildings, including the dimensions, materials needed, and assembly procedures.
There are many types of drafters, each with their own areas of specialty. Here are some of the most common types:
Architectural drafters prepare drawings that show the structural and architectural features of buildings. These drawings are used in both residential and industrial construction projects. Read more about architectural drafters.
Civil drafters prepare maps used in civil engineering projects. The maps often include bridges, highways, and other similar structures.
Electrical drafters create wiring diagrams. These diagrams are used by workers who need to install or repair electrical equipment. Read more about electrical drafters.
Electronic drafters create circuit board diagrams and wiring diagrams. Their diagrams are used in to produce and repair electronic devices like televisions, computers, and manufacturing equipment. Read more about electronic drafters.
Mechanical drafters create layouts that indicate how mechanical components should be assembled, and how mechanical systems should operate. Read more about mechanical drafters.
Drafters spend most of their time working in front of a computer in an office environment. Most drafters work on deadline-driven projects, and the work can be stressful as deadlines approach. Sometimes, drafters have to balance many different projects at once, which requires good multi-tasking and organizational skills.
Most drafters work for manufacturing companies, construction companies, and architectural and engineering firms. The majority of drafters work full time, and are able to maintain a regular working schedule. However, working overtime is often required to meet deadlines.
How to Become a Drafter
Most employers prefer to hire drafters who have completed formal drafting training. This training is frequently offered by community colleges and technician institutes. Though both types of schools can prepare you for a job, the decision to enroll in a community college or a technical school should be based on what your long term career goals are.
Technical schools offer a lot of hands on training that is designed to prepare students for a career as a drafter. These programs cover subjects like sketching, design fundamentals, and the use of CADD software. Depending on the exact program, graduates may be awarded with a certificate or diploma. The downside of attending a technical school is that the credits earned rarely transfer to a four year school should you later decide to attend one.
The drafting courses at community colleges don’t usually offer as much hands on training as those found in technical schools. Additionally, graduating from a community college requires students to take general education courses like English and science. Though these courses don’t really have a direct application in drafting, they will transfer to a four year school.
Many drafters later choose to pursue a degree in engineering or architecture. If you think that you might want to pursue a four year degree later on, then attending a community college may be the best choice for you.
Some drafters choose to become certified by the American Design Drafting Association. Certification is rarely required for employment, but becoming certified demonstrates proficiency in the field and can help you stand out versus other equally qualified candidates.
There are currently drafters in the United States, with new drafter job openings created each year.
Drafter jobs are not expected to see much growth beyond their current levels in the next decade.
Drafter salaries can vary depending on your experience, the location, company, industry, and benefits provided. Nationwide, most drafters make between per year, or per hour.