Career Information: Drafter
What is this job like?
Drafters make drawings and plans. Other workers use these drawings and plans to build things. Some plans show how to make objects like toys, toasters, and machinery. Some plans are for larger things like houses and office buildings.
The drawings that drafters make are very specific. They show measurements, materials, and instructions.
Drafters use math and engineering skills to add numbers to their drawings. They can turn someone's rough sketch into an exact drawing.
Most drafters use computers to make their drawings. Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems let drafters make changes easily. Some drafters also draw with pencils and protractors for some tasks.
There are many different types of drafters: Aeronautical drafters make drawings of aircraft, missiles, and their parts. Architectural drafters make drawings of buildings, such as houses or factories. Civil drafters make drawings used for highways, bridges, and other major construction. Electrical drafters make drawings of electrical equipment and wiring. Electronics drafters make drawings used to make, install, and repair electronics. Mechanical drafters make drawings of machinery. Process piping or pipeline drafters make drawings used in oil and gas fields, chemical plants, and other pipe systems.
Most drafters work a 40-hour week. They usually work in comfortable offices. They sit at computers much of the time.
How do you get ready?
Employers like to hire people who have training in drafting after high school. You can get training at trade schools, community colleges, and some 4-year colleges.
It is important to check the quality of a school before you choose it. For example, check for math and computer classes. Also, find out about the kinds of jobs that graduates get.
Drafters need skills in math, science, and drawing. It is also important to know how to use computers and CADD systems. Being good at teamwork and problem solving also helps.
How much does this job pay?
The middle half of all architectural and civil drafters earned between $33,550 and $52,220 in 2006. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $27,010. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $63,310.
The middle half of all mechanical drafters earned between $34,680 and $55,130. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $28,230. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $67,860.
The middle half of all electrical and electronics drafters earned between $36,660 and $60,160. The lowest-paid 10 percent earned less than $29,290. The highest-paid 10 percent earned more than $74,490.
How many jobs are there?
Drafters held about 253,000 jobs in 2006. Architectural and civil drafters had the most jobs. Mechanical drafters had the second most.
What about the future?
Drafting jobs are expected to grow more slowly than the average for all jobs through 2016. People with at least 2 years of training have the best chance of getting a job.
Are there other jobs like this?
- Cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying technicians
- Civil Engineers
- Engineering technicians
- Landscape architects
- Science technicians
Where can you find more information?
More BLS information about drafters can be found in the Occupational Outlook Handbook. The Handbook also shows where to find out even more about this job.
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