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Jobs in Drafting Technology: Options and Requirements

Drafting is generally an undergraduate program. Continue reading for an overview of the training, as well as career and salary info for some career options for graduates.

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Individuals interested in drafting technology careers can choose from among architectural, electrical or mechanical specialties. All of these positions require an associate's degree. Professional certification is optional.

Essential Information

Drafters use drafting technology to create layouts, sketches, and outlines in a variety of professional fields. Aspiring drafters can benefit from introductory design, drafting or shop classes in high school. Further education in postsecondary programs involving drawing, drafting technology and computer-aided design can be advantageous in finding a career. Certification in drafting is voluntary, but may offer additional career opportunities for those who choose to pursue it.

Careers Architectural Drafters Electrical Drafters Mechanical Drafters
Required Education Associate's degree Associate's degree Associate's degree
Certification Optional Optional Optional
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -3% 5% -7%
Median Annual Salary (2015)* $50,710 $59,520 $53,520

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Career Options

Career options in drafting technology include architectural, electrical and mechanical drafters. Drafters use their skills and knowledge in scaling, blueprint reading and CAD design to assist architects, engineers and construction project managers. As such, these professionals are frequently employed in the construction, engineering and electronic technology industries.

Architectural Drafters

Architectural drafters draw rough and detailed layouts for residential and commercial facilities. They analyze engineering and architectural schematics in order to calculate stress factors and ensure that designs meet company, industry and government standards. Aside from using CAD software to analyze data, architectural drafters may also build display models for visual purposes. These drafters typically use tools like scales, digitizers, scanners and calculators, as well as photo editing and graphics software.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that architectural and civil drafters are projected to see a 3% decrease in job openings from 2014 to 2024. As of 2015, these professionals earned a median salary of $50,710 per year.

Electrical Drafters

Electrical drafters sketch outlines of electrical systems for sites ranging from telecommunications towers to industrial complexes. These professionals may begin work by visiting a construction site to gain a better understanding of the layout. Electrical drafters may then begin preliminary designs for electrical wires, cables and transformers while consulting with project engineers and technicians to address issues and find solutions along the way.

According to the BLS, the number of employed electrical and electronics drafters was expected to increase 5% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual salary for these professionals was $59,520 as of 2015.

Mechanical Drafters

Before mechanical drafters can prepare sketches, they typically review machinery and components and confer with manufacturing and mechanical engineers about requirements and goals. When they begin to draw diagrams, they must verify dimensions and often discuss issues like installation procedures with other professionals. Additionally, these professionals may incorporate drawing tools, such as shading in order to highlight or emphasize specific areas on plans.

The BLS estimated in May of 2015 that mechanical drafters received an annual median wage of $53,520. A 7% decline in job opportunities was expected for mechanical drafters between 2014 and 2024.

Requirements

Drafting technology professionals typically have earned a certificate or associate's degree in drafting technology. Junior colleges and vocational institutes offer programs in architectural, civil, electrical, electronic and mechanical drafting. Although specific requirements for each program vary, most begin with courses in blueprint reading, drafting principles and CAD software. Based on their respective concentration, students may gain expertise in reviewing building structures, designing electrical components or customizing 3-D designs for machines.

Certifications

Job seekers wishing to gain a competitive edge among applicants may consider attaining voluntary certifications. Industry organizations like the American Design Drafting Association and product vendors like AutoCAD offer these certifications. Earning credentials generally includes successfully completing a qualifying examination.

Architectural drafters prepare plans for buildings, while mechanical drafters create sketches of machinery and mechanical components. Electrical drafters sketch out the plans for transformers, communication towers and electrical equipment. To develop the attention to detail and familiarity with computer-aided design software required for these careers, students can enroll in drafting certificate and associate degree programs.

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