What does a drafter do?
Drafters produce plans and technical drawings to construct a wide variety of objects such as appliances, toys, machinery, houses, buildings, gas and oil pipelines, and even spacecraft. Traditionally, drafters created drawings by hand using drawing boards, pencils, pens, protractors, compasses, triangles, and other equipment. Today, majority of drafters use Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems to create their drawings. Using theses CADD systems, drafters can generate and save electronic drawings. These drawings can be printed, viewed, or directly programmed into manufacturing systems that are automatic. Drafters also use computers, handbooks, calculators, and tables in their work.
The drawings and images created by drafters give visual instructions and illustrate how to create a structure or product. The drawings include the technical features and identify the materials, dimensions, and procedures needed.
What kind of training does a drafter need?
Drafters typically need at least a high school diploma, but many employees prefer candidates who have completed drafting training at a community college, technical institute, or 4-year college or university. Employers seek out applicants that have thorough knowledge of drafting standards, strong drafting and mechanical drawing skills, skills in engineering, science, and mathematics technology, and a strong background in CADD systems.
Drafters can gain certification through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). Candidates must pass an ADDA administered examination called the Drafter Certification Test. The certification demonstrates a sound knowledge and thorough understanding of drafting practices that are nationally recognized.
What are the prospects for a career as a drafter?
Employment of drafters is projected to grow slower than average for all professions, increasing 6% from 2006 to 2016 (1). Growth will be driven by industrial expansions, increasing design problems that become more complex, and companies offering new manufacturing processes and products.
Job prospects are expected to be fair. Drafters with professional training and those with experience in working with CADD systems will have the best prospects. Many job openings will occur from the need to replace workers who retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do drafters make?
As of August 2009, the middle 50% of drafters earned annual salaries between $35,836 and $45,072. The highest 10% earned annual salaries of more than $50,008 (2).
A career as a drafter is an excellent choice for individuals with great artistic ability who enjoy drawing. It is important for drafters to have visual aptitude and mechanical ability and they must be able to draw very well and perform detailed tasks neatly and accurately. Good communication and interpersonal skills are essential because drafters often work with other professionals and customers.