Drafter: What Is It and How to Become

Drafter: What Is It and How to Become

Are you interested in engineering and design? Do you have a passion for creating detailed diagrams and models? If so, then a career as a drafter might be right for you. Drafters play a crucial role in the world of engineering and architecture, providing the technical expertise needed to bring plans and projects to life.

A drafter’s work closely follows the guidelines provided by top engineers and architects. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create detailed drawings and blueprints that demonstrate the infrastructure and layout of a project. This includes everything from buildings and bridges to engines and electronic circuits. Their work is typically done under the supervision of an engineer or architect, ensuring that the final product meets all necessary specifications.

Although drafters often work within engineering firms or architectural companies, they are also in high demand in other industries. Some drafters find employment in consulting firms, where they provide their expertise to various clients. Others may work for government agencies, assisting in the development of topographical maps or ensuring that all building codes and standards are met.

The path to becoming a drafter usually begins with a high school diploma or equivalent. Some drafters may choose to pursue post-secondary education at technical schools or community colleges, where they can learn more specific drafting skills. Courses in mathematics, computer-aided design, and engineering principles are important to gain competence in this field.

While certifications and licenses are not always required for employment, having them can demonstrate a drafter’s competence and open up more job opportunities. The American Design Drafting Association and the Architectural Drafting and Design Certification Board both offer certifications that can enhance a drafter’s credibility.

So, what about the job outlook and salary? According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for drafters is projected to decline slightly in the coming years. However, the demand for drafters with specialized skills, such as those in architectural and civil engineering, is expected to remain steady. This means that although it may take some time and effort to find the right job, drafters with the right qualifications and experience can still enjoy a fulfilling career.

When it comes to salary, drafters earn a median annual wage of around $56,830. However, this varies depending on the industry and location. Drafters in the architectural and engineering services sector tend to earn higher salaries, while those in construction or manufacturing may earn less. The level of experience and certifications also play a role in determining a drafter’s salary.

Overview of Drafters Salary

In most cases, drafters are not required to hold licenses, but they should have a postsecondary education in drafting and design. Most employers prefer drafters to have at least an associate degree or certification in drafting technology or a related field. Sometimes, drafters may even have a bachelor’s degree in engineering or architecture. These educational requirements demonstrate the level of expertise and knowledge needed to perform the job effectively.

Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other design professionals to create accurate and detailed technical drawings. They may be responsible for creating blueprints, wiring diagrams, or even 3D models of buildings or mechanical parts. During the design and development process, drafters need to carefully follow specifications and incorporate any changes or modifications as needed.

Drafters often work in an office environment, although some may be employed by construction or manufacturing companies and spend time on-site. The day-to-day schedule of a drafter can vary, but they typically work full-time hours. Sometimes they are required to work on evenings or weekends to meet project deadlines.

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Salary Outlook:

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for drafters was $56,830 as of May 2020. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,480, while the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,320. The salary range for drafters can vary depending on factors such as experience, skills, and location.

Job Description and Career Outlook:

Drafters are essential elements within the day-to-day operations of many industries. They provide detailed technical drawings and models that are used in the construction, manufacturing, and engineering fields. They work closely with architects, engineers, and technicians to ensure that designs are accurate and adhere to project specifications.

The job outlook for drafters is projected to decline by 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. Advances in technology, such as CAD software and automated drafting systems, have led to increased productivity and reduced the need for manual drafters. However, drafters with strong technical skills and knowledge in emerging technologies may have better job prospects.

Typical Job Duties:– Create technical drawings and blueprints– Use CAD software to develop 2D and 3D models
– Follow project specifications and incorporate changes– Coordinate with architects, engineers, and technicians
Salary Comparison:– Drafters earn higher wages compared to similar occupations, such as architectural and civil drafters– Drafters may also have the opportunity to advance their careers and move into higher-paying positions, such as engineering technicians
Work Environment:– Drafters typically work in offices, but may also spend time on construction sites or manufacturing plants– They may work with architects, engineers, and technicians to ensure accurate and precise technical drawings
Employment Schedules:– Drafters usually work full-time hours, following a regular schedule– However, they may be required to work evenings or weekends to meet project deadlines

Career Path for Drafters

There are different specialties within the field of drafting. Some drafters focus on architectural drawings, creating plans for buildings, skyscrapers, and other structures. Others specialize in mechanical drafting, where they design and create detailed drawings of machinery, engines, and other mechanical components. There are also drafters who work in the electrical field, creating wiring diagrams for electrical systems. Drafters may also work in fields such as civil engineering, aerospace, and even medical equipment design.

The career path for drafters usually starts with obtaining a high school diploma or equivalent. Many drafters further their education by completing a drafting program at a technical or community college. These programs provide training in drafting techniques, computer-aided design (CAD) software, and mathematical skills that are essential for the profession. Some drafters may also choose to pursue certifications to demonstrate their competence and enhance their job prospects.

Once the education and training are complete, drafters can move on to entry-level positions. These jobs may include working directly with designers and engineers to create rough drafts and make revisions to existing designs. As drafters gain experience and demonstrate their skills, they may be given more responsibility and be involved in creating more complex and detailed drawings.

Drafters often work in an office environment, using specialized CAD software and drafting tools to create their drawings. They may also visit construction sites, manufacturing plants, or other locations to gather information and ensure that their designs meet specifications. The working schedule for drafters is usually a standard 40-hour week, although some overtime may be required to meet project deadlines.

The job outlook for drafters is projected to be stable, with a similar growth rate to other occupations. Although some jobs may be lost due to automation and outsourcing to other countries, there will still be a demand for skilled drafters who can work on complex projects and collaborate with other professionals.

Table: Career Path for Drafters

EducationHigh school diploma or equivalent, followed by a drafting program
SpecializationsArchitectural drafting, mechanical drafting, electrical drafting, civil engineering drafting
Job OutlookStable growth rate, similar to other occupations
SkillsTechnical drawing, CAD software, mathematical competence, attention to detail
Typical DutiesCreating technical drawings, collaborating with designers and engineers, revising existing designs
Working EnvironmentOffice environment, occasional visits to construction sites or manufacturing plants
WagesVaries by industry and experience level, with a median annual wage of $54,920 in May 2020
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Job Outlook for Drafters

Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other professionals to create detailed drawings and diagrams for buildings, products, and mechanical systems. They must understand the technical requirements and limitations of a project, and use their expertise to ensure that all elements are correctly represented.

There are different specializations within the drafting profession, such as architectural drafters, electrical drafters, and mechanical drafters. These specializations require specific knowledge and skills, as well as certifications or licenses in some cases.

Day-to-day responsibilities for drafters may include using computer software to create models and perform mathematical calculations, reviewing and revising drawings based on feedback from engineers and architects, and providing support throughout the project development process.

Drafters are typically paid well for their work. The median annual wage for drafters was $56,830 in May 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, wages can vary depending on factors such as experience, level of expertise, and location.

In addition to the typical career path, drafters may also choose to pursue consulting or freelance work, which can offer more flexibility in terms of schedule and project variety. Some drafters may even become full-time employees of the companies they work for, especially if they demonstrate exceptional skills and knowledge within their field.

The job outlook for drafters is closely tied to the growth of the industries they serve. For example, architectural drafters may see increased demand as new buildings and structures are designed and constructed. Similarly, electronic drafters may be needed to help with the development of new electronic devices and systems.

In summary, drafters play an important role in a wide range of industries, and their skills are in high demand. Whether working independently or as part of a team, drafters provide valuable support to engineers, architects, and other professionals. With the right education, certifications, and experience, a career as a drafter can be both financially rewarding and personally fulfilling.

Education Requirements for Drafters

Many employers prefer to hire drafters who have completed a formal education program, as it demonstrates a level of expertise and commitment to the profession. These programs typically include courses in computer-aided design (CAD) software, architectural and engineering principles, and technical drafting skills.

Drafters also need to have a strong understanding of the topography, limitations, and day-to-day operations within the field they work. For example, architectural drafters need to understand building codes and regulations, while electrical drafters should have knowledge of wiring diagrams and electrical systems.

Specialties within the Field

There are different specialties within drafting, and each may have its own education requirements. Some examples include:

  • Architectural drafters: These drafters create plans and technical drawings for construction projects, such as buildings, houses, and skyscrapers.
  • Electrical drafters: They specialize in creating wiring diagrams and layouts for electrical systems, including those used in buildings, power plants, and engines.
  • Mechanical drafters: These drafters focus on creating detailed drawings and models for machinery, equipment, and mechanical parts.

Skills and Expertise

Regardless of the specialty, drafters should have strong skills in using computer-aided design (CAD) software, as it is an essential tool in the drafting process. They should also have good attention to detail and be able to translate rough sketches and concepts into accurate and precise technical drawings.

Furthermore, drafters need to be able to collaborate effectively with architects, engineers, and other professionals involved in the project. They should be able to follow instructions and work within the given project schedule.

Job Outlook and Wages

The job outlook for drafters varies by specialty. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of drafters is projected to decline by 3% from 2019 to 2029. However, there will still be opportunities for skilled drafters, especially those with expertise in computer-aided design (CAD) software.

In terms of wages, the median annual wage for drafters was $56,830 in May 2020. The top 10% of drafters earned more than $87,170, while the bottom 10% earned less than $35,860.

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Overall, completing the recommended education requirements and developing the necessary skills and expertise can pave the way for a successful career as a drafter. With the right qualifications, drafters can find employment in various industries, working directly with architects, engineers, designers, and technicians to bring projects to life.

Typical Employers for Drafters

Drafters are professionals who play a crucial role in various industries, including architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and construction. They are responsible for creating detailed technical drawings and plans that serve as blueprints for the design and construction of buildings, infrastructure, and other structures. Drafters work alongside architects, engineers, and designers to transform their concepts into tangible designs.

As a drafter, you can find employment in a wide range of settings. Some typical employers for drafters include:

Architectural Firms

Architectural firms are one of the primary employers of drafters. They require drafters to create detailed drawings and plans for various architectural projects, including residential and commercial buildings, skyscrapers, and infrastructure. Drafters in this field usually work directly with architects and designers to translate their ideas into precise and accurate technical drawings.

Engineering Companies

Engineering companies also hire drafters to support their design and construction processes. Drafters in this sector typically work on projects related to civil, mechanical, electrical, or structural engineering. They assist engineers in creating detailed drawings and plans for bridges, roads, pipelines, machinery, and other engineering structures. Drafters with specialized expertise in areas such as HVAC systems or electrical wiring may find employment in specific engineering fields.

Manufacturing Industries

Manufacturing industries, such as automotive, aerospace, and electronics, often employ drafters to develop detailed engineering drawings of products and components. These drawings serve as guides for the production process, where accuracy and precision are essential. Drafters in this sector usually work as part of a larger team, collaborating with engineers, technicians, and production managers to ensure that designs are feasible and meet industry standards.

Construction Companies

Drafters are also in demand in the construction industry, where they translate architectural and engineering plans into detailed construction drawings. These drawings provide information about dimensions, materials, and other specifications needed for the construction process. Drafters working in construction may specialize in areas such as residential or commercial construction, civil construction, or infrastructure projects like roads and bridges.

Overall, drafters are employed in industries where precise and accurate technical drawings and plans are needed. They work closely with architects, engineers, designers, and other professionals to create detailed visual representations of structures and systems. Whether it’s designing buildings, manufacturing parts, or constructing infrastructure, drafters play a vital role in bringing ideas to life and ensuring that projects are completed on time and within budget.


What is the average salary of a drafter?

The average salary of a drafter varies depending on the industry and location. However, as of 2021, the median annual wage for drafters was $57,960, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is the career path for a drafter?

The career path for a drafter typically starts with obtaining a degree or certificate in drafting or a related field. After gaining some experience, drafters can specialize in specific areas such as architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting. With further experience and possibly additional education, drafters can advance to positions such as senior drafter, lead drafter, or even become supervisors or managers in their field.

What are the typical employers of drafters?

Drafters are employed in a variety of industries such as architectural and engineering firms, manufacturing companies, construction companies, and government agencies. They may also work in specialized industries like aerospace, automotive, or electronics. Additionally, some drafters work as freelancers or independent contractors.

What is the job outlook for drafters?

The job outlook for drafters varies depending on the specific field and industry. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the overall employment of drafters is projected to decline by 3 percent from 2019 to 2029. However, certain areas such as mechanical drafting are expected to have better job prospects due to the need for drafters in engineering and manufacturing industries.

What education is required to become a drafter?

To become a drafter, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required. However, most employers prefer candidates with postsecondary education in drafting or a related field. There are various options for formal education in drafting, including certificate programs, associate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees. These programs cover topics such as technical drawing, computer-aided design (CAD), and drafting standards.

What is the average salary for a drafter?

The average salary for a drafter is around $55,550 per year.

What is the job outlook for drafters?

The job outlook for drafters is expected to decline by 4% from 2019 to 2029.

Dave Pennells

By Dave Pennells

Dave Pennells, MS, has contributed his expertise as a career consultant and training specialist across various fields for over 15 years. At City University of Seattle, he offers personal career counseling and conducts workshops focused on practical job search techniques, resume creation, and interview skills. With a Master of Science in Counseling, Pennells specializes in career consulting, conducting career assessments, guiding career transitions, and providing outplacement services. Her professional experience spans multiple sectors, including banking, retail, airlines, non-profit organizations, and the aerospace industry. Additionally, since 2001, he has been actively involved with the Career Development Association of Australia.