What Do Drafters, All Other Do?
Drafters use software to document the designs of engineers and architects, illustrating technical details such as dimensions, material specifications and procedures that allow the design to be constructed or produced. As a drafter, you will use Computer Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) software to produce 2D or 3D visual representations of designs which can be viewed or printed, or allow designs to be programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems. Some drafters still use manual drafting techniques, but manual drafting has been almost universally replaced by CADD in every industry.
Drafters, All Other Skills and Abilities
Drafters work closely with engineers and other professionals so good interpersonal and communication skills are a must. To be a successful drafter, you will need strong time management skills in order to meet strict project deadlines. Drafters must be able to learn and use high-tech CADD software, and you will need spatial ability in order to use it effectively. While drawing skills are not required, they may be helpful in some aspects of the job, such as producing 2D views from 3D images. Producing accurate technical drawings also requires attention to detail and good math and reasoning skills.
Drafters, All Other Duties
The primary role of a drafter is to create visual models, plans, and drawings using CADD software. Engineers or architects will provide you with the information you will need to create 3D CADD models or 2D plans and drawings, and you will use your industry-specific knowledge to create drawings that conform to industry standard practices. Other responsibilities of a drafter include:
- Specifying technical details such as dimensions, materials and procedures
- Providing additional design details using knowledge of industry-specific practices
- Preparing drawing sets for review by engineers and architects
- Incorporating design revisions or preparing alternative designs for review
Drafters, All Other Tools and Technology
As a drafter, your most important tool is CADD software. There are several different companies that produce CADD software, but the specific program you use will depend upon the company and the industry you work in. As part of a larger project team, you may also work with product data management (PDM) or building information modeling (BIM) systems, which allow you to work more collaboratively with engineers, architects and other industry professionals. In addition to CADD, you must be proficient in basic computer skills and be able to use email and other communication tools.
Education and Training for Drafters, All Other
Companies prefer to hire drafters who have received additional education or training after high school, so you will want to consider an associate’s degree or certificate program at a community college or technical institute. Certificate courses vary in duration and depth of curriculum, but obtaining a certificate may be faster than obtaining an associate’s degree. Certificate programs are often industry-specific and may be limited to a particular type of CADD software. An associate’s degree will generally have a broader focus, and you will have the opportunity to take additional drafting theory and general education classes in addition to your CADD classes. Continued training and certification in new and more advanced software programs may be ongoing throughout your career.
Drafters, All Other Salary
Drafter salaries vary widely depending upon location, level of experience, and the industry you are working in. The median annual salary for a drafter in the United States is $50,000. Drafters earning in the top 10% average $81,300, while the bottom 10% average $31,300 yearly.
Drafters, All Other Jobs by Geography
The states employing the most drafters are California, Texas and Ohio. Some states are expected to show significant growth in drafter jobs over the next several years. States with the highest projected job growth are Utah, Arizona and Georgia. You’ll find the highest paying jobs in Texas, Illinois and New York, with median annual salaries exceeding $60,000.