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Drafting Engineer: Job Description & Career Requirements

Anything that is built or manufactured starts with an idea and the abilities of a drafting engineer, or drafter, to render the beginning stages of the creation. Read on to learn more about the education, salary and job outlook for this career to see if you're still interested.

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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 (2015)* $50,710 for architectural and civil drafters
Job Growth (2014-2024)* -3% for drafters

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

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 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.

Skills Required

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 204,400 drafting jobs existed as of 2014. Overall, the BLS anticipated a 3% decrease in this field from 2014-2024. As of May 2015, the median annual wage for architectural and civil drafters (the specialty with the most jobs in the drafting industry) was $50,710, 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 29% was predicted by the BLS for the decade of 2014-2024. The median annual salary for cartographers and photogrammetrists in 2012 was $61,880, 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. A decline of 2% was expected by the BLS for these careers, overall, from 2014-2024. 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 $61,130 in 2015.

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