Become an Aeronautical Drafter
Aeronautical drafters work with aerospace engineers to create technical drawings used in the construction of aircraft, aircraft systems, and missiles. A lot of this type of drafting work is likely to be done electronically, which makes collaboration easier. On occasion, this work may require travel outside of the office to visit a job site to meet with an engineer.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree at minimum; candidates may decide to pursue a bachelor's degree|
|Degree Field||Drafting, aeronautics, aerospace engineering|
|Certification||Voluntary, can enhance career prospects and advancement|
|Experience||1-2 years (entry-level positions)|
|Key Skills||Technical skills, critical thinking and time management skills, interpersonal skills, detail oriented nature, familiarity with computer-aided design and drafting software (CADD); computer-aided drafting software (CAD); and database tools such as building information modeling (BIM)|
|Salary (2015)||$52,720 yearly (median for all drafters not categorized separately)|
Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, various university programs, job postings (November 2012)
Step 1: Complete a Degree Program
Students interested in a career as an aeronautical drafter may choose between a 2-year or 4-year degree program. Coursework at the associate degree level commonly includes drawing, CAD systems, mathematics, and physics.
Although entry-level positions as an aeronautical drafter are available to individuals who have earned an associate degree in drafting, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some candidates may decide to continue their education at the bachelor's degree level. Prospective aeronautical drafters that are considering a bachelor's degree should consider a major in aerospace engineering. These 4-year programs commonly feature drafting, design, and CAD education, in addition to field-specific coursework in aerodynamics, fluid dynamics, aircraft design principles, and engineering materials.
While working towards a career as an aeronautical drafter, consider an internship. These programs are available to students that may be pursuing either an associate degree or bachelor's degree. Internships offer aspiring aeronautical drafters the opportunity to work and learn from professionals while acquiring industry knowledge and developing skills.
Step 2: Look for an Entry-Level Job
Aspiring aeronautical drafters that have earned an associate degree will find that there are job opportunities available as drafters. Postings on job boards list typical job duties, examples of which include using software programs such as Autodesk and AutoCAD and basic drawing skills that incorporate 2D and 3D CAD modeling techniques. Other examples of job tasks include proficiency in working with aerospace drawings and Microsoft Office software.
Step 3: Acquire Certification
Drafters can increase advancement opportunities by acquiring the voluntary Certified Drafter (CD) credential from the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). Though this certification is not specific to aeronautical drafting, it demonstrates knowledge and proficiency of general drafting techniques to current and future employers. Certification may also enhance opportunities to transition into related fields such as design and engineering. According to the ADDA, all candidates regardless of educational training and work experience are eligible to complete the ADDA Drafter Certification Examination. The credential must be renewed every five years.
In summary, a career in aeronautical drafting will require a minimum of an associate degree, and those interested in advancement should consider earning a bachelor's degree in aerospace engineering in order to have the knowledge and skill to work with other engineers and use necessary software, such as CAD. Entry-level positions in this career field will likely require skill in drawing and 2-D and 3-D modeling techniques, along with a voluntary Certified Drafter certification.