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Structural Drafting Jobs: Options and Requirements

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a structural drafter. Get a quick view of details about schooling, job duties, necessary skills and employment outlook statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

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A career in structural drafting requires an associate's degree. Drafting technology or engineering design are common programs to pursue to prepare to work as a structural drafter. Computer-aided drafting, building codes and mathematics are all subjects structural drafters need to learn about to be equipped to work in this field.

Essential Information

Structural drafters design and develop final sketches for various structures while maintaining all guidelines and staying within budget. Drafters typically have a specialty in a structure type or structure material. The minimum requirements for the position are typically a technical degree or certification plus relevant work experience.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in drafting
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -3% (for general drafters)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $50,710 (for architectural and civil drafters)

Source: *United States Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Definition: Structural Drafter

A structural drafter works off of design guidelines, measurements and calculations, which are typically set by an engineer. Drafters complete the design by finishing all details and adding or deleting necessary components. They may serve as a liaison between engineers and construction workers on certain projects. Individuals in this profession may specialize in commercial or residential structures, or they may specialize in specific materials such as steel or concrete.

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Educational Requirements

Structural drafters are typically required to have at least an associate's degree in drafting technology, engineering design or a related field. A number of technical schools and community colleges offer these degree programs, which typically take two years to complete. Topics covered in these programs may include advanced structural drawing, building codes and structural technology. Additional subjects may include computer-aided drafting, blueprint reading and advanced mathematics.

Structural drafters may prefer to complete a certificate program, which is offered by a number of community colleges and typically lasts 31-34 credit-hours--approximately half the length of an associate's degree program. Some employers accept a certificate in lieu of a degree; however, it is ideal to gain both. Certificate programs cover topics in technology and mathematics.

Skills Requirements

Structural drafters must have strong organizational and time-management skills as they are often working on a deadline. Individuals must also be good communicators and work well with others; the majority of the work is team-oriented. Strong mathematical skills and attention to detail is essential because all drafting work is extremely precise.

Career Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for drafters in general should decline about 3% from 2014-2024. In 2015, the BLS reported an annual median salary of $50,710 for architectural and civil drafters.

Structural drafters create images of things that are going to be built, such as bridges or buildings. They have to work within the budgets and guidelines determined by the project engineer, and have to make sure the design complies with safety codes and building regulations. A certificate or associate's degree is required to work in this field.

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