Draftsman: Career Profile, Job Outlook, and Education Requirements

Research requirements for a career as a draftsman. Learn about necessary education, job outlook, and professional certification options to understand if this is the career field for you. Schools offering Building Information Modeling degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Draftsman?

Draftsmen or drafters prepare technical drawings and plans for many types of projects, using traditional hand-drafting skills as well as more advanced CADD techniques. More often than not, a drafter will receive drawings from an engineer or architect and be asked to create digital representations of them. They may need to add details to the drawings based on their understanding of a design, including dimensions and necessary materials. The following chart provides an overview of what you need to know about entering this field.

Degree Required Associate's degree
Training Required Proficiency in pencil and paper drafting, background in Computer Aided Design and CADD a plus
Key Skills Surveying and measurements, mechanical drafting, architectural drawing and electromechanical drafting
Certification Not required, but certification by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) is available and could be an advantage in landing a job
Job Growth (2014-2024) 3% (for all drafters)*
Median Salary (2015) $53,520 for mechanical drafters; $50,710 for architectural and civil drafters*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Would I Do as a Draftsman?

As a draftsman, your primary objective is to draw technical drawings and plans that are used in a variety of projects. You might specialize in a particular field, such as architectural drafting, aeronautical drafting or mechanical drafting. You could also become an electronics drafter and design the plans for electronic devices, or work as a civil drafter and craft the designs for civil engineering projects. No matter your specialization, you will typically begin a project by drafting simple technical drawings that then advance into a specialized area. Often, you will utilize computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) programs to draw up drafts and designs in addition to creating traditional pencil and paper blueprints.

What Can I Expect the Job Outlook to Be Like?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of all types of drafters is predicted to show three percent growth from 2014 to 2024. The role of a draftsman is undergoing a transformation as more draftsman do work that was traditionally performed by engineers and architects, mostly because advanced CADD systems can eliminate the need for drafters. Opportunities should be available for educated draftsman who can fill the positions of drafters who have transferred to other occupations or left the labor force.

What Education Do I Need?

The most valuable skill you can have as a draftsman is a solid background in computer-aided design. Many drafting employers expect you to have significant CADD program experience before even applying for a job. Technical institutes, community colleges and 4-year universities offer training in drafting that is useful for anyone wishing to be competitive in the job market. A typical drafting associate degree program might involve topics in surveying and measurements, mechanical drafting, architectural drawing and electromechanical drafting.

Traditionally, employers do not require you to be certified, but if you take and pass the Drafter Certification Test by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), you may have an advantage when vying for new positions. The ADDA test involves completing a comprehensive exam in standards related to drafting and design.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are interested in the design aspects of drafting, you might consider pursuing an associate's degree to become an engineering technician. These professionals help engineers design products by evaluating tests, taking measurements and making repairs to equipment. Alternatively, you could pursue a bachelor's degree in engineering and become a full-fledged engineer. These professionals develop, design and test products in a field of expertise, such as electrical engineering, civil engineering and mechanical engineering.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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