How to Become a Civil Drafter

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Civil drafting is an important part of the engineering and construction field. Civil drafters are highly skilled professionals that prepare drawings and maps that are vital to a variety of civil engineering and construction projects.


Hey, I'm Joshua T. Osborne

In 2015, I said goodbye to 16-hour days and hauling boxes up and down stairs for a living (I was a mover). I became a full-time entrepreneur, and I made my money by helping business owners make money.

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What does a civil drafter do?

Civil drafters create drawings and relief and topographical maps that are used in a variety of projects such as the construction of water and sewage systems, pipelines, highways, bridges, and for projects that control floods and other weather conditions. They use their strong knowledge of mathematics, engineering practices, and building materials to create their drawings. They also create graphs and detailed diagrams using surveys and cross-sections to represent subsurface formations and structures, topographical contours, and elevations. Civil drafters also determine the cost, strength, quality, and quantity of the materials that are required for projects. They often use computer-assisted drafting systems (CAD) and drafting machines to assist with their drawings. They also use a variety of drafting devices such as dividers, compasses, triangles, and protractors.

What kind of training does a civil drafter need?

Civil drafters need at least a high school diploma, but most employers prefer applicants that have complete formal training in drafting. Many colleges and universities, community colleges, and vocational and technical schools offer programs in civil drafting. Prospective civil drafters should have a solid background in mathematics, engineering technology, computer technology, computer graphics, and computer-aided design. Most employers provide on the job training where new civil drafters work alongside experienced professionals. Many civil drafters gain voluntary certification from the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). Certification usually requires passing a written examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a civil drafter?

Employment of civil drafters is expected to grow slower than average for all professions, increasing 6% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The growth of the industrial field and increasingly complex design issues connected with new products and processes will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be good especially for civil drafters with advanced training and strong technical skills. Numerous job openings will stem from the need to replace civil drafters that retire, transfer, or leave the profession for other reasons.

How much do civil drafters make?

As of November 2009, civil drafters with 1 to 4 years experience earn average hourly rates between $11.86 and $17.05. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average hourly rates between $14.99 and $23.50 (2).

A career as a civil drafter is a great choice for people with a strong interest in a variety of engineering and construction projects. Civil drafters must have good visual aptitude and mechanical ability. They must have excellent drawing skills and artistic ability. Detail orientation, dependable, flexibility, and analytical thinking are desirable characteristics. Civil drafters must be also be accurate and precise when creating their drawings. They should have good communication and interpersonal skills because they work closely with other professionals and sometimes clients.

Joshua T Osborne

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