Earning a certificate in computer-aided drafting and design is a way to prepare for a career as a draftsperson. It is also possible to complete an associate's degree before entering this field. Professional certification is not required, but may appeal to potential employers.
A draftsperson creates technical drawings used in manufacturing and construction. Drafters work in a variety of industries, and job specifics differ depending on their specialization. Employers prefer drafters to have postsecondary education in the field, such as a certificate or an associate's degree in computer-aided design and drafting (CADD). Certification in CADD is available to drafters, though it's optional.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Projected Job Outlook (2019-2029)*||-4% for all drafters|
|Median Salary (2020)*||$57,500 for architectural and civil drafters; $62,100 for electrical and electronics drafters; $54,500 for all other drafters|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Drafters concoct technical drawings used to create various products and structures. Their work informs the construction of buildings, electronic equipment, aircraft and infrastructure. Many drafters operate CADD (computer-aided design and drafting) systems. However, knowledge of traditional pencil-and-paper drafting techniques is still useful for professionals in the field. Drafters are divided into categories by specialty, such as:
- Civil engineering
- Electrical devices
- Mechanical equipment
- Fuel pipelines
A draftsperson's key duty is to create drawings, by hand or using CADD, which are infused with whatever technical details are appropriate to the project. For instance, architectural drafters lay out interior building arrangements when they create plans. Civil drafters create maps of proposed road construction that account for local topography.
Electronics drafters render circuit schematics for manufacturing appliances and digital technology. Similarly, drafters in the electrical industry diagram wiring and system connections so installers have the project specifications they need to properly perform their task.
Educational and Career Requirements
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that employers prefer drafters who've undergone some postsecondary education in their field. Formal training in drafting and CADD is widely available. Degree programs often focus on computer-aided drafting in addition to traditional rendering techniques. Certificate programs are available specifically in CADD technology.
In general, drafters need mechanical and visual aptitude. Certain types of drafters may require skills specific to their industry. For instance, coursework in electrical engineering might be helpful for electrical drafters, while familiarity with construction methods could be useful to architectural drafters. Additionally, vendor certification in CAD may be an asset.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
A decline in jobs for drafters was projected by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) from 2019-2029. Pay for drafters may vary by specialty. For example, architectural drafters earned an annual mean salary of $59,120 in 2020, while electrical and electronics drafters earned $65,720, according to the BLS. All other types of drafters made a mean of $56,530 annually in 2020, as shown by BLS data.
Draftspersons use computer-aided drafting and design software to make plans for manufacturing and construction projects. There are several areas they can specialize in, ranging from working on schematics for mechanical equipment to creating blueprints for buildings. Although most work is now done on computers, being able to draw plans by hand may still be an asset.