Be a Landscape Drafter: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Mar 12, 2020

Research the requirements to become a landscape drafter. Learn about the job description and duties, and explore the step-by-step process to start a career in landscape drafting.

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Landscape Drafter Overview

Degree Level Associate's
Degree Field Drafting technology
Certification Optional certification is available
Experience No experience is necessary to enter this profession
Key Skills Strong critical-thinking, interpersonal, and time-management skills; communication and mathematics skills; ability to use CADD, graphic imaging, scanning, and spreadsheet software; experience with drafting tools, such as curves, scales, triangles, and scanners may be useful
Median Annual Salary (2018) $51,850 (for drafters, all other)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Landscape drafters prepare detailed renderings from specifications and instructions given by landscape architects and engineers. They draft designs of parks, playgrounds, yards, sporting fields, and numerous other exterior projects. They might create drawings by hand, but more commonly, they use computer programs. For this reason, they're sometimes referred to as CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) operators. Landscape drafters spend a great deal of time working at computers, but they also might get the chance to travel to landscaping sites to consult with clients or landscape architects.

Landscape drafters need strong critical-thinking, time management, and math skills, along with the ability to use CADD, graphic imaging, scanning, and spreadsheet software. Experience with drafting tools, such as curves, scales, triangles, and scanners, might be useful. Because the job involves working closely with landscape architects and engineers to prepare drawings and interpret specifications, drafters need strong interpersonal communications skills. They must be able to interpret instructions from other team members and get clarification on all aspects of their projects. They must also be able to deal with criticism constructively. As of May 2018, drafters not listed separately made a median yearly salary of $51,850, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Let's explore the steps required to become a landscape drafter…

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree in Drafting

An associate's degree program in drafting technology is generally the minimum requirement for entering into this career. Programs are offered at technical schools and community colleges; those at community colleges generally include a number of general education courses, such as mathematics, social sciences, composition, and natural sciences, and the degree is usually transferrable to a 4-year college where the student can continue studies in a related area, such as engineering or architecture.

A drafting technology curriculum teaches individuals to use CADD software to create drafts and to read blueprints and architectural specifications. Coursework might include 3D modeling, drafting technology, technical drawing, landscape drafting, computer animation, and architectural rendering.

Some drafting programs offer internships or other fieldwork opportunities. These programs allow students to work with professionals to develop their technical skills. Students can add this experience to their resumes, which might offer a competitive edge in the job market.

Step 2: Join a Professional Organization

Professional groups, such the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), offer membership to students and professional drafters alike. Membership benefits may include industry publications, educational seminars, and discounts on certification fees. Another important benefit is access to a network of drafting professionals; these connections could help students find employment after graduation and advance their careers.

Step 3: Earn Certification

Certification is not mandatory to gain employment as a landscape drafter; however, many drafters choose to earn certification to demonstrate their knowledge and range of skills. ADDA offers several levels of certification, based on education, experience, and passage of an online exam. Certification must be renewed every 3 years.

In summary, landscape drafters typically need a minimum of an associate's degree in drafting technology. Joining a professional organization and earning voluntary professional certification could lead to more and better job opportunities.

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