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Senior Design Technician: Job Duties & Requirements

An artistically inclined and technically-minded individual might enjoy a career as a design technician, which involves creating plans and drawings to illustrate the project specifications of architects and engineers. A two-year associate's degree program and possible professional certification are the starting points for becoming a design technician.

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Career Definition for a Senior Design Technician

Senior design technicians, often called senior drafters, work with computer-aided design (CAD) software and pencil and paper to create plans, blueprints and technical drawings. Senior design technicians work in such diverse fields as architecture, civil engineering and oil and gas pipeline engineering, creating plans and drawings for architects and engineers. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architectural design technicians may create blueprints based on the architect's specifications, while mechanical engineering design technicians illustrate the assembly of mechanical devices. Senior design technicians may oversee a team of drafters and delegate design projects, liaise with managers, and evaluate and approve designs before finalizing them.

Required Education The completion of an accredited engineering technology program; some employers prefer a bachelor's degree in a related field
Job Duties Include overseeing a team of drafters, delegating design projects, liaising with managers
Median Salary (2018)* $54,920 (all architectural and civil drafters)
$55,920 (all mechanical drafters)
$51,850 (all other drafters)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 7% (all drafters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

Design technicians may consider an engineering technology associate degree program accredited by the Accreditation Board of for Engineering and Technology (ABET), www.abet.org, or a program accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology (ACCSCT), www.accsct.org. Though it is not usually required, the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) does offer professional certification for drafters and design technicians. Employers prefer senior design technicians who have completed a drafting or CAD training program at a technical institute or community college, and some prefer those who have earned bachelor's degrees in engineering, architecture, or mathematics, as well.

Skills Required

Visual aptitude and manual dexterity are important for senior design technicians; working knowledge of manufacturing and construction processes is also necessary. Senior design technicians should also be comfortable taking the lead on projects, providing the overarching vision, and delegating responsibility to others. Interpersonal skills are also a must, since senior design technicians work not only with their direct reports but also with project leads and others throughout the organization.

Career Outlook

Though the design technology field is expected to grow at an average rate in the coming years, with all drafter positions predicted to increase by 7%, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that senior design technicians with solid CAD skills and demonstrated leadership ability will find themselves poised for good job opportunities. The BLS reports that the electronics and electrical drafting fields have the most growth potential. Salaries vary greatly by industry but can range from as low as $33,000 in the bottom 10% to $88,280 in the top 10%, with senior design technicians earning higher salaries for their leadership roles. The median for architectural and civil drafters was $54,920 and the median for mechanical drafters was $55,920 in May 2018, per the BLS. All other drafters earned a median of $51,850, reported the BLS.

Alternate Career Options

Here are some examples of alternative career options:

Surveyor

Earning a bachelor's degree in surveying, forestry or civil engineering, and then gaining licensing, surveyors then seek employment finding the boundaries of properties by taking measurements. The BLS predicts a faster than average employment increase of 11% for this occupation from 2016-2026 and lists an annual median salary of $62,580 in 2018.

Architect

Licensed architects must have completed a bachelor's degree in architecture, normally spanning five years, fulfilled an internship and passed the industry registration exam. In general, these professionals design houses, buildings and structures. Slower than average employment expansion of 4% was forecast by the BLS for this career during the 2016-2026 decade. As of May 2017, architects earned an annual median wage of $78,470, per the BLS.

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