Career Definition for a Drafting Engineer
Drafting engineers design and draw the blueprints needed to bring new concepts and products to life. Drafting engineers, also referred to as drafters, prepare technical drawings such as blueprints used to build a wide array of products. There are many different disciplines within the world of engineering; most drafting engineers specialize in one chosen specialty and learn the trade at a technical school or community college.
|Education||Certificates and associate degrees available|
|Job Skills||Creativity, blueprint reading, communication, technical writing|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$52,870 for architectural and civil drafters|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||7% for drafters|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Almost all of the work drafting engineers perform is now done on computers; it's a high-tech job that generally requires an associate's degree. Many trade schools and community colleges offer programs in drafting technology, which may also be referred to as computer-aided drafting (CAD). Degrees of interest for prospective drafting engineers are an Associate of Applied Science in Drafting Technology or an Associate of Applied Science in Computer-Aided Drafting. Degree programs last two years while many certificate programs take one year to complete. Drafting engineering students in either track can expect to take classes heavy in math, computer science and the technical aspects of the field.
A creative bent is important for anyone interested in becoming a drafting engineer; taking a raw idea and turning it into a functional blueprint is the crux of the job. Drafting engineers must also have great skills in computers since almost all of the work is now done using CAD programs. Communication skills are also needed; technical writing is a frequent task, as is speaking before various groups of people.
Career and Economic Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 207,700 drafting jobs existed as of 2016. Overall, the BLS anticipated a 7% increase in this field from 2016-2026. As of May 2017, the median annual wage for architectural and civil drafters (the specialty with the most jobs in the drafting industry) was $52,870, per the BLS.
Alternate Career Options
Check out these other options in the field of engineering and charting:
Cartographer and Photogrammetrist
By earning bachelor's degrees in geomatics, geography or cartography, in addition to licensing in some states, these professionals interpret geographic information to create maps and charts mainly with computers. A much faster than average employment growth of 19% was predicted by the BLS for the decade of 2016-2026. The median annual salary for cartographers and photogrammetrists in 2017 was $63,990, per the BLS.
Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technician
An associate's degree is usually required for these technicians, who work closely with electrical engineers while they design and develop a range of electrical and electronic equipment and devices. An increase of 2% was expected by the BLS for these careers, overall, from 2016-2026. However, the BLS notes that those working with computer systems design services should be in demand during that decade. The BLS reported an annual median wage of $63,660 in 2017.