Career Information for a Degree in Engineering Drafting and Design
Engineering drafting and design programs prepare students to draw plans for engineers in a variety of concentrations including civil, electrical and electronics or mechanical engineering. The average salary for these professionals exceeds $40,000 annually, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job growth is expected to be fairly low for the 2008-2018 decade. Read on to learn more.
Engineering Drafting and Design Career Information
A degree in engineering drafting and design can prepare individuals to work as drafters or drafting technicians in an engineering office. They are responsible for producing the drawings that display the information generated by engineers. Drafters use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to complete schematics and make alterations when needed. There are a variety of specializations, including civil, electronics and aeronautical drafting.
Civil drafters encompass the largest division of the drafting profession. They use their skills to render drawings of major construction projects such as dams, bridges and overpasses. Civil drafters may also design topographical and land-use maps to assist in construction planning. In addition to design concepts, civil drafters must be knowledgeable about infrastructure geology and geography. These professionals may also find work in architectural firms.
Electrical and electronics drafters create blueprints of circuitry and wiring designs. Electrical drafters create schematics for large scale projects such as power plants and cable lines. Electronics drafters create the schematics used for electronic devices and equipment. These drafters have knowledge that's specific to their line of work, which can vary greatly by field.
Mechanical drafters produce schematics of the outer and inner-workings of machinery. These drafters may have to consider the materials being used or how the different components of the machine interact with one another. Mechanical drafters may find work in a number of industries including automotive, manufacturing and plastics.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the drafting profession is expected to see an overall growth of two percent from 2008 to 2018 with civil drafters seeing the highest growth, nine percent, in the same timeframe (www.bls.gov). The slow growth is accredited to outsourcing, an inconsistent economy and the decline of related industries.
The average salary of a drafter varies by concentration. According to the BLS as of May 2010, the median yearly salary was $46,430 for a civil drafter, $48,810 for a mechanical drafter and $53,020 for electrical and electronics drafters. For all three concentrations, aerospace manufacturing and power generation were two of the highest-aying industries.
Degree programs that lead to a drafting career are most commonly available at the associate's degree level and may focus on drafting technology or CAD drafting. These programs have basic requirements in math and communications outside the drafting curriculum, which requires extensive training with computers using software such as AutoCAD. Students progress through basic concepts to more complicated techniques such as 3-dimensional drafting. Some programs allow students to specialize on a drafting specialization by selecting a concentration, such as piping
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