Drafters primarily produce technical drawings and plans which are utilized by production and construction workers to create a variety of products such as machinery, toys, houses and airplanes. The drawings specify the technical details, dimensions, materials and procedures for producing products and building structures.

Drafters add additional details provided by engineers, architects, scientist and surveyors. Drafters typically have a basic knowledge of standardized building techniques, engineering and manufacturing theory and standards for drawing components of machinery. They also utilize technical handbooks and calculators to finish their drawings.

The majority of drafters utilize computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) systems to produce their drawings. Some drafters are called CADD operators. By using CADD systems, drafters have the opportunity to produce and electronically store their drawings, which allows the drawings to be printed, easily viewed or programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems. Although CADD systems are excellent tools, drafters still need training in traditional drafting techniques.

Drafting offers a variety of specialty areas including:

  • Aeronautical drafters create engineering drawings which display the plans and specifications required for the manufacturing of airplanes, missiles and related parts.
  • Architectural drafters produce structural and architectural elements for buildings and a variety of structures. Some drafters in this field specialize in commercial or residential structures.
  • Civil drafters are asked to create drawings as well as topographical and relief maps which are utilized for construction and civil engineering projects. Typical projects are water and sewage systems, highways and bridges.
  • Electrical drafters provide wiring and layout diagrams to workers who erect, install and repair electrical equipment in structures such as power plants, buildings and communication centers.
  • Electronic drafters produce drawings which display circuit board assembly diagrams, wiring diagrams and schematics. They also prepare drawings required for manufacturing and installing and preparing electronic devices and components.
  • Mechanical drafters create drawings that are utilized in manufacturing items such as tools, machinery, automobile parts and other types of mechanical items.
  • Process piping or pipeline drafters provide drawing utilized in layout, construction and the operation of chemical plants, oil and gas fields, refineries and process piping systems.


Drafters create the technical drawings and plans which are necessary to produce a wide variety of products and structures. The drawings must provide the technical details and state the types of materials to be used. For civil engineering projects, drafters provide topographical and relief maps. Drafters involved in the design of buildings are responsible for providing the structural and architectural aspects of structures.

Job Characteristics

Drafters typically have comfortable work environments. Most of their time is spent working at computer terminals performing detailed work. Mechanical ability, visual aptitude and attention to detail are vital for the profession. Good communication skills are helpful due to working with engineers, architects and other professionals. The vast majority of drafters work full-time.

Employment Outlook

Architectural and civil drafters typically have over 40% of the total amount of drafting jobs while mechanical drafters hold about 30% of the positions. Electrical and electronics drafters combined usually have about 14% of the drafting jobs. Close to half of drafting positions were provided by engineering, architectural as well as related services companies which design construction projects or provide engineering work on a contract basis. About one-quarter of the jobs were provided by manufacturing industries. Only about 5% of drafters are self-employed.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (USDL BLS), the growth rate for drafters from 2006 to 2016 is expected to be about 6% which is a slower growth rate than the average projected employment growth for all occupations. Growth in the field may be stimulated by industrial growth and also by drafters performing tasks usually given to engineers and architects. Also, improvements in CADD systems make simple tasks easier to perform which may reduce the demand for lower skilled drafters since these tasks may be accomplished by other types of technical professionals.

Outsourcing of drafting work may increase due to the availability of sending CADD files via the Internet. Mechanical, civil and mechanical drafters are projected to see the greatest demand for drafters. Also, drafters with a minimum of two years of post-secondary training that also have experience with CADD systems and have good technical skills will have the best opportunities to acquire employment in the field. The demand for drafters is created primarily in industries that are sensitive to the cyclical changes to the economy.

The earnings of drafters primarily depends on factors such as their area of specialization, where they are located and their level of responsibility. The median yearly earnings for civil and architectural drafters in 2006 was $41,960. The top ten percent earned over $63,310 while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $27,010. The median annual earnings for mechanical drafters in 2006 was $43,700 and for electrical and electronics drafters it was $46,830.

Drafting Schools, Certification, and Licensing

Drafters must be highly skilled at drafting and design and have expertise with CADD systems. Training is provided by vocational schools, community colleges and by the armed forces. Two-year associate degrees are available in drafting. The quality of training in these settings may vary.

Most four-year colleges do not offer specific degrees in drafting. However, the majority of four-year colleges provide college courses in architecture, computer science, engineering and mathematics which can be useful when seeking a position as a drafter. Many of the colleges have included CADD classes in their architecture, engineering and computer science curriculums. In addition, a certification program for drafters is offered by the American Design Drafting Association. Students seeking a career in drafting may want to contact prospective employers and ask for a list of the schools they prefer.


Major Employers

The primary opportunities for employment for drafters are found with companies in the fields of manufacturing, engineering and electronics as well as companies involved in construction or civil engineering projects. Also, employment opportunities are found in companies that provide services for these industries.

Schools for Drafters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.

Metro Areas Sorted by Total Employment for:

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Drafters jobs , as of 2015

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 100 $41,060
Birmingham 100 $41,060
Metro Area (Alaska) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anchorage 30 $57,230
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 380 $48,220
Mesa 380 $48,220
Phoenix 380 $48,220
Tucson 80 $52,020
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Long Beach 500 $53,810
Los Angeles 500 $53,810
Anaheim 500 $53,810
San Francisco 300 $58,030
Hayward 300 $58,030
Oakland 300 $58,030
San Diego 150 $51,380
Carlsbad 150 $51,380
Riverside 60 $52,800
Ontario 60 $52,800
San Bernardino 60 $52,800
Santa Clara 40 $54,860
Sunnyvale 40 $54,860
San Jose 40 $54,860
Roseville 30 $58,760
Arden 30 $58,760
Sacramento 30 $58,760
Arcade 30 $58,760
Lodi N/A $35,620
Stockton N/A $35,620
Fresno N/A $42,460
Santa Rosa N/A $56,200
Ventura N/A $71,660
Thousand Oaks N/A $71,660
Oxnard N/A $71,660
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 210 $57,020
Aurora 210 $57,020
Denver 210 $57,020
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hartford 40 $47,470
East Hartford 40 $47,470
West Hartford 40 $47,470
Norwalk N/A $54,950
Bridgeport N/A $54,950
Stamford N/A $54,950
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 150 $47,360
Fort Lauderdale 150 $47,360
Miami 150 $47,360
Jacksonville 30 $48,680
St. Petersburg N/A $48,390
Clearwater N/A $48,390
Tampa N/A $48,390
Orlando N/A $51,860
Kissimmee N/A $51,860
Sanford N/A $51,860
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell N/A $36,700
Sandy Springs N/A $36,700
Atlanta N/A $36,700
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 90 $58,800
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 100 $55,050
Carmel 100 $55,050
Indianapolis 100 $55,050
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Des Moines 60 $49,050
West Des Moines 60 $49,050
Dubuque 40 $46,730
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 60 $44,570
Lexington 60 $44,570
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Metairie 280 $50,420
New Orleans 280 $50,420
Baton Rouge 200 $44,910
Lafayette 170 $58,290
Bossier City 80 $41,040
Shreveport 80 $41,040
Monroe 70 $44,890
Thibodaux 60 $45,080
Houma 60 $45,080
Lake Charles 30 $43,660
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 160 $56,880
Columbia 160 $56,880
Baltimore 160 $56,880
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Dearborn 130 $39,250
Warren 130 $39,250
Detroit 130 $39,250
Wyoming 30 $42,120
Grand Rapids 30 $42,120
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 40 $56,640
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 70 $47,700
Henderson 70 $47,700
Las Vegas 70 $47,700
Reno 60 $52,470
Metro Area (New Hampshire) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Manchester 30 $53,240
Metro Area (New Jersey) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Trenton 40 $56,270
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albany 80 $47,280
Troy 80 $47,280
Schenectady 80 $47,280
Niagara Falls 50 $39,370
Buffalo 50 $39,370
Cheektowaga 50 $39,370
Syracuse 50 $43,050
Rochester N/A $44,530
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 50 $40,120
Greensboro 30 $34,710
High Point 30 $34,710
Morganton N/A $46,370
Hickory N/A $46,370
Lenoir N/A $46,370
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 230 $49,360
Cleveland 180 $51,320
Elyria 180 $51,320
Dayton 60 $43,550
Toledo 40 $39,300
Massillon 40 $42,610
Canton 40 $42,610
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City N/A $31,880
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 90 $47,820
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 130 $57,880
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 70 $24,350
Carolina 70 $24,350
San Juan 70 $24,350
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Knoxville 90 $41,130
Franklin 60 $43,270
Murfreesboro 60 $43,270
Davidson 60 $43,270
Nashville 60 $43,270
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Sugar Land 690 $70,870
The Woodlands 690 $70,870
Houston 690 $70,870
Arlington 450 $48,940
Fort Worth 450 $48,940
Dallas 450 $48,940
Austin 200 $57,400
Round Rock 200 $57,400
San Antonio 130 $46,580
New Braunfels 130 $46,580
El Paso 40 $47,190
Metro Area (Utah) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Salt Lake City N/A $51,010
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charlottesville N/A $63,640
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Seattle 410 $60,340
Tacoma 410 $60,340
Bellevue 410 $60,340
Silverdale 40 $59,000
Bremerton 40 $59,000
Richland 30 $66,690
Kennewick 30 $66,690
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 80 $45,560
Waukesha 80 $45,560
Milwaukee 80 $45,560
Madison 40 $38,110

Most Popular Industries for :

Industries representing at least 1% of total jobs for the occupation.

Source: 2015 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Industry Jobs Percent Annual Median Salary
Professional And Technical Services 8,900 43% $43,850
Automotive And Vehicle Manufacturing 1,540 7% $53,890
Construction Trades 1,110 5% $42,900
Office Services And Staffing 1,020 5% $42,410
Furniture 900 4% $41,670
Metal Products 660 3% $41,180
Government 630 3% $46,170
Electronics And Computer 570 2% $51,630
Machinery 540 2% $40,700
Telecommunications 510 2% $51,720
Construction 410 2% $39,520
Business Management 400 1% $47,670
Durable Goods Wholesale 390 1% $44,420
Mineral Products 320 1% $40,160
Wood Products Manufacturing 260 1% $41,360
Miscellaneous Manufacturing 230 1% $45,050
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CityTownInfo Career and College Resources

We have some additional detailed pages at the state level for Drafters.

Numbers in parentheses are counts of relevant campus-based schools in the state; online schools may also be available.

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