Drafting Career Information, Duties and Job Descriptions
Drafters help with construction by creating plans and technical drawings of everything from architecture to mechanical instruments. The drawings create guidelines, such as dimensions, calculations and weight restrictions, which workers use to plan and assemble buildings and products.
Drafting Career Information
Drafting was traditionally a paper and pencil profession, with workers sitting at drafting desks drawing technical plans using drafting tools. Today, though some workers still draw by hand, most workers use computer-aided design and drafting software (CADD).
CADD software allows workers to create drawings and plans in a much more dynamic fashion, making it easier to calculate dimensions and materials and make changes when needed. CADD drawings can also be programmed into manufacturing equipment, allowing products to be produced exactly as drafters design them.
Drafters can choose to specialize in certain industries. Electrical drafters plan the layout and wiring in large structures, including manufacturing plants, buildings and power plants. Mechanical drafters provide drawings for manufacturing machinery and devices. Civil drafters create specifications for large civil projects like bridges and flood control. Architectural drafters work specifically on buildings and can specialize further in certain types of buildings, such as skyscrapers.
Skill and Career Requirements
Drafters often spend the majority of their time working in CADD programs, so proficiency with computers and software is important. They must be able to use three dimensional (3D) modeling, perform construction estimating and work with specialized software. Good communication skills are also important because drafters need to communicate with employees and the workers who will follow their designs.
Drafters create project drawings from blueprints, sketches and photos. Drafters are often responsible for important calculations that accompany drawings. Calculations of weight limits, volume and stress factors are important for the workers that will construct the designs. Drafters typically work with a team of people and may need to communicate and collaborate with several types of professionals.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that drafters may experience a four percent growth in their field from 2008-2018, which is slower than average (www.bls.gov). The BLS also notes that many drafting positions are concentrated in manufacturing which is slowly declining, with product competition also responsible for some of the slowdown. According to the BLS, average annual salaries for drafters vary by industry, with mechanical drafters earning $46,640, electrical drafters earning $51,320 and the average for architectural and civil drafters at $44,490.
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