Career As a Draftsman: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a draftsman. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and professional certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Essential Information

Draftsmen are responsible for creating technical drawings that accurately represent design ideas. Draftsmen use hand drawing and computer-aided drafting methods to generate precise drawings that meet given specifications and are used by manufacturers, builders and engineers. A 2- or 4-year degree is recommended to become a draftsman, either in drafting or in architecture. Voluntary certification by the American Design Drafting Association is available to anyone; no education prerequisites are needed to take the test.

Required Education An associate's or bachelor's degree in drafting or architecture is recommended
Certification Voluntary through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA)
Projected Job Growth (2012-2022) 1% for drafters; however, specific sub-fields may see greater growth i.e. 10% growth predicted for electrical and electronics drafters *
Median Salary (May 2012) $49,630 for drafters*

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Complete an Associate's or Bachelor's Degree Program

While not explicitly required to become a draftsman, a postsecondary degree from a 2- or 4-year institution or technical institute may increase career prospects for finding a drafting job. Programs in science, engineering technology, computer science and mathematics can all lead to a career in drafting, but many students typically earn associate's or bachelor's degrees in architecture. These programs focus heavily on architectural design, basic and advanced mathematics, technical drawing and computer-aided design and drafting.

Step 2: Hone Your Computer Skills

Modern draftsmen rely on computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software to perform their job duties. Draftsmen still must learn manual drawing techniques, but most jobs available today require proficiency in CADD systems. Technical and trade schools offer comprehensive training in CADD software.

Step 3: Attain Professional Certification

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) administers the Drafter Certification Examination to those who want professional certification in the drafting field. The exam is open to anyone who registers, and there are no work experience or education prerequisites. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, most companies don't require this endorsement, but it can be advantageous for aspiring draftsmen looking to demonstrate their drafting acumen to potential employers.

Step 4: Find a Job

Draftsmen jobs are available in several areas, including architecture and mechanical and civil engineering. Construction and architecture firms, electronics manufacturers, power plants, aeronautics design groups and government agencies all need draftsmen to translate their design ideas to usable drawings. Newspaper classified ads and Internet job boards are good resources for job seekers. Individual chapters of the ADDA also provide assistance for those seeking positions as draftsmen. Freelance draftsman accept contract jobs from many different employers.

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