Drafters: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
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.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 7% (As fast as average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
Licenses/Certifications
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.
Median pay: How much do Drafters make?
$53,480 Annual Salary
$25.71 per hour

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.

What do Drafters do?

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.

The following are examples of types of drafters:

Careers for Drafters

  • Aeronautical drafters
  • Architectural drafters
  • Automotive design drafters
  • Blueprint tracers
  • Building drafters
  • CAD designers
  • CAD drafters
  • Circuit board drafters
  • Civil computer-aided design and drafting technicians
  • Civil drafters
  • Die designers
  • Drafting layout workers
  • Draftsmen
  • Draughtsmen
  • Electrical computer aided design and drafting technicians
  • Electrical drafters
  • Electrical systems drafters
  • Electronic drafters
  • Electronics drafters
  • Gage designers
  • Geological drafters
  • Marine drafters
  • Mechanical design drafters
  • Mechanical drafters
  • Printed circuit board drafters
  • Structural drafters
  • Tool and die designers
  • Tool designers

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