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What Are Some Common Technical Drafting Professions?

For people looking for a career that balances creativity with precision, a technical drafting position may be a good option. Read on to find out more details regarding some possible career paths, such as civil drafting and electronics drafting, and to learn about educational requirements and job prospects.

Career Options

Technical drafters are responsible for transforming rough sketches, ideas and specifications into well-constructed blueprints. Using both manual and computer-based tools, these professionals create the plans necessary to complete a variety of projects. Some possible technical drafting professions include mechanical drafter, architectural drafter, civil drafter and electronics drafter.

Important Facts About a Career in Drafting

Work EnvironmentPrimarily in the office working on computers, with occasional collaboration with architects and engineers
SpecializationsConstruction, manufacturing, architectural, and engineering services
Key SkillsCreativity, detail-oriented, interpersonal, math, technical, and time-management
Similar OccupationsArchitects, electrical and electronics engineering technicians, civil engineering technicians, electro-mechanical technicians, industrial designers, and mechanical engineering technicians

Mechanical Drafter

Mechanical Drafting involves creating detailed drawings and computer simulations that support the production of a variety of mechanical devices. Such a career involves the use of both computer aided design (CAD) software programs and traditional drafting techniques. These professionals must also be familiar with many manufacturing processes, materials and metallurgy.

Architectural Drafter

Architectural drafters support construction projects by drawing the architectural and structural features of a building. These positions often specialize in a particular type of building, typically residential or commercial. These workers may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. Furthermore, architectural drafters provide expertise in specific materials used, such as steel, wood, or reinforced concrete.

Civil Drafter

Creating the topographical and relief maps used in a variety of engineering projects, civil drafters employ both traditional drafting techniques and computer aided design. Employees in this career may be involved with the construction of many civil engineering projects, such as bridges, highways and water control systems. These professionals are also responsible for accurately representing topographical contours and elevations.

Electronics Drafter

Working with other engineers to determine the specifications, electronics drafters are responsible for making diagrams of wiring and circuit board assemblies for electronics. They also create layout drawings that others will use when they install or repair equipment. They might also be involved with circuit board testing to make sure the boards work properly.

Education and Certification

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), drafters generally complete a technical program, with an associate's degree being the most common (www.bls.gov). Both community colleges and technical institutes have relevant programs, although the BLS notes that technical institutes are more likely to offer diploma and certificate programs in drafting. While you can expect to study computer-aided design and drafting and sketching at either type of institute, the BLS mentions that you can also expect to take general education classes if you choose to attend a community college.

You can also choose to pursue optional certification from the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). For example, you might get certified in mechanical or civil drafting. While you generally won't need drafting certification to find employment, getting certified might help you stand out to employers.

Employment Outlook and Salary

The BLS notes that there will be a 7% growth in drafter employment between 2016 and 2026. However, growth does vary by specialty, with architectural and civil drafters having better career prospects and a 8% projected employment growth from 2016 through 2026 and mechanical drafter employment is only predicted to grow by 5%.

According to the BLS, the median annual salary of a mechanical drafter was $55,920 in 2018, while an electronics or electrical drafter made a median wage of $60,070. Architectural and civil drafters earned less, with median annual earnings of $54,920.