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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.

Responsibilities

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.

Resources

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:
Drafters

Listed below are metro areas sorted by the total number of people employed in Drafters jobs , as of 2016

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

     
Metro Area (Alabama) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Hoover 50 $39,490
Birmingham 50 $39,490
Huntsville 30 $50,100
     
Metro Area (Arizona) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Scottsdale 410 $49,780
Mesa 410 $49,780
Phoenix 410 $49,780
Tucson 70 $51,550
     
Metro Area (California) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anaheim 410 $55,080
Los Angeles 410 $55,080
Long Beach 410 $55,080
Hayward 280 $61,650
Oakland 280 $61,650
San Francisco 280 $61,650
Carlsbad 180 $51,240
San Diego 180 $51,240
Riverside 60 $55,430
San Bernardino 60 $55,430
Ontario 60 $55,430
Sacramento 40 $56,840
Arcade 40 $56,840
Roseville 40 $56,840
Arden 40 $56,840
Santa Clara 40 $65,310
San Jose 40 $65,310
Sunnyvale 40 $65,310
     
Metro Area (Colorado) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Lakewood 170 $56,850
Aurora 170 $56,850
Denver 170 $56,850
     
Metro Area (Connecticut) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Hartford 50 $53,010
East Hartford 50 $53,010
Hartford 50 $53,010
Norwalk N/A $51,360
Stamford N/A $51,360
Bridgeport N/A $51,360
     
Metro Area (Florida) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Palm Beach 180 $48,360
Fort Lauderdale 180 $48,360
Miami 180 $48,360
Sarasota 40 $47,190
Bradenton 40 $47,190
North Port 40 $47,190
Jacksonville 40 $47,940
St. Petersburg N/A $49,070
Clearwater N/A $49,070
Tampa N/A $49,070
Kissimmee N/A $53,490
Orlando N/A $53,490
Sanford N/A $53,490
     
Metro Area (Georgia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Roswell 100 $46,620
Sandy Springs 100 $46,620
Atlanta 100 $46,620
     
Metro Area (Hawaii) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Urban Honolulu 90 $59,240
     
Metro Area (Idaho) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Idaho Falls 40 $66,160
     
Metro Area (Indiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Anderson 60 $52,640
Carmel 60 $52,640
Indianapolis 60 $52,640
     
Metro Area (Iowa) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Des Moines 40 $47,690
Des Moines 40 $47,690
     
Metro Area (Kansas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Wichita 40 $41,260
     
Metro Area (Kentucky) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fayette 60 $46,160
Lexington 60 $46,160
     
Metro Area (Louisiana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Baton Rouge 320 $48,340
Metairie 260 $46,620
New Orleans 260 $46,620
Monroe 170 $53,770
Lafayette 160 $52,020
Shreveport 80 $45,470
Bossier City 80 $45,470
Thibodaux 80 $56,670
Houma 80 $56,670
Lake Charles 30 $46,100
     
Metro Area (Maryland) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Towson 120 $51,320
Columbia 120 $51,320
Baltimore 120 $51,320
     
Metro Area (Michigan) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Detroit 180 $49,470
Dearborn 180 $49,470
Warren 180 $49,470
Wyoming 40 $36,900
Grand Rapids 40 $36,900
     
Metro Area (Minnesota) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
St. Cloud 40 $56,500
     
Metro Area (Montana) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Billings 40 $55,790
Missoula N/A $37,580
     
Metro Area (Nevada) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Paradise 110 $49,190
Henderson 110 $49,190
Las Vegas 110 $49,190
Reno 50 $51,900
     
Metro Area (New York) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Albany 80 $48,720
Troy 80 $48,720
Schenectady 80 $48,720
Syracuse 60 $43,670
Niagara Falls 60 $45,060
Buffalo 60 $45,060
Cheektowaga 60 $45,060
Rochester N/A $45,240
     
Metro Area (North Carolina) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Raleigh 50 $48,480
     
Metro Area (Ohio) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Columbus 250 $53,660
Elyria 230 $51,570
Cleveland 230 $51,570
Dayton 60 $44,550
Akron 50 $47,270
Toledo 50 $54,230
Canton 40 $43,930
Massillon 40 $43,930
     
Metro Area (Oklahoma) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Oklahoma City N/A $24,180
     
Metro Area (Oregon) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Eugene 90 $47,240
Salem 40 $42,780
Redmond N/A $53,250
Bend N/A $53,250
     
Metro Area (Pennsylvania) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Pittsburgh 120 $55,570
     
Metro Area (Puerto Rico) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Caguas 140 $30,770
Carolina 140 $30,770
San Juan 140 $30,770
     
Metro Area (Tennessee) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Knoxville 110 $51,570
Franklin 60 $40,390
Murfreesboro 60 $40,390
Davidson 60 $40,390
Nashville 60 $40,390
     
Metro Area (Texas) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Fort Worth 600 $51,110
Dallas 600 $51,110
Arlington 600 $51,110
Sugar Land 600 $67,570
The Woodlands 600 $67,570
Houston 600 $67,570
Round Rock 230 $52,760
Austin 230 $52,760
San Antonio 150 $42,900
New Braunfels 150 $42,900
El Paso 30 $36,680
Waco 30 $39,700
     
Metro Area (Virginia) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Charlottesville N/A $69,950
     
Metro Area (Washington) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
Bellevue 330 $66,100
Tacoma 330 $66,100
Seattle 330 $66,100
     
Metro Area (Wisconsin) Total Employment Annual Median Salary
West Allis 50 $50,000
Waukesha 50 $50,000
Milwaukee 50 $50,000

Most Popular Industries for :
Drafters

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

2016 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2014-24 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2014-24 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

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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