Aeronautical Drafter: Career and Salary Facts

Explore the career requirements for aeronautical drafters. Get the facts about possible salary, necessary education, and job outlook to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Engineering & Technology Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is an Aeronautical Drafter?

Aeronautical drafters create designs for aircraft and airplane parts using computer-aided design (CAD) programs. Though aeronautical drafting is a distinct specialty within the drafting field, the occupation shares common necessary qualities with drafting in general including attention to detail, creativity, and good time-management, math and technical skills. Because drafters work in cooperation with engineers and other specialized personnel, good interpersonal communication skills are also necessary.

The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Certificate or associate's degree
Key Skills Computer aided design, advanced math, understanding of engineering concepts
Certification Voluntary certification available through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA)
Job Growth (2014-2024) Decline -3% (all drafters)*
Median Annual Salary (2015) $49,650 (drafters, all other)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Does an Aeronautical Drafter Do?

Your job as an aeronautical drafter is to create technical drawings used to build airplanes and parts for different aircrafts. The drawings are created using specific measurements, dimensions, directions and details that allow someone to use them as a guide. The details you include in the drawing give specifications and instructions on how to build the aircraft and what materials to use. Your drawings may also be used to build missiles or other air devices.

To create your drawings, you may use many tools, such as computer-aided design programs, rulers and handbooks. You also use engineering and math skills in the process of creating your drawings. Sometimes you may be given rough drawings done by someone else and have to add in the technical aspects to make the drawing into a usable blueprint.

What Training Do I Need?

Formal education in drafting and CAD is often required for aeronautical drafter jobs. These programs are available at many different community colleges and vocational schools and may result in either a certificate or an associate's degree. They provide students with a good foundation in advanced mathematics, engineering concepts and drafting techniques

Employers may also look for a skilled drafter with a background of work experience or other proof of his or her skills. Proof of your skills may also be obtained through certification, such as those offered by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), which offers the Certified Drafter credential. The certification exam tests your knowledge of professional drafting standards and techniques.

How Much Can I Earn?

Aeronautical drafting jobs are not specifically discussed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS); however, this field is included in a general category of all other drafters (which excludes mechanical, architecture, civil, electrical and electronics drafters). According to the BLS, these drafters earned a median annual salary of $49,650 as of May 2015. The BLS projects a 3% decline in this field of employment from 2014-2024, but job opportunities may arise in the areas of new technology or with the introduction of new design styles.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

According to the BLS, an associate's degree in civil engineering through an ABET-accredited program is often the employee-preferred educational credential for individuals who want to secure a position as a civil engineering technician. Working under licensed civil engineers, common duties include helping them design, plan and carry out industrial, commercial and residential, infrastructure and land projects and structures. They may be called upon to act as cost estimators or surveyors.

Electro-mechanical technicians generally hold either a postsecondary certificate or an associate's degree through an ABET-accredited program. Concentrations include mechatronics, industrial maintenance, computer-integrated manufacturing and electro-mechanics. Duties typically include the installation, operation, maintenance and repair of automated electromechanical equipment. They test, record and document the operation of the equipment and analyze the results.

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