Drafters take the ideas of architects and engineers and translate them into complex design plans. Other professionals then use drafter’s drawings and plan to construct things such as buildings or electronic systems. If you like turning ideas into images, making exact measurements and drawings, and working with a team, drafting may be the job for you. You can become a drafter by getting your education and experience and developing your professional skills throughout your career.
Drafters take the ideas of designers and translate them into reality by creating complex visual representations of designs. Most draftsmen work with computer-aided design (CAD) software, but some still sketch their designs. Being a drafter requires formal training, usually at a technical school or community college.
What Is a Professional Draftsman?
Professional draftsmen work with architects and engineers. They compile the design plans and specifications of projects and use computer-aided design (CAD) software to produce technical drawings, such as blueprints. They may have to add details to the rough designs provided or verify measurements and materials during this process. Professional draftsmen are also known as drafters or CAD operators. They may specialize in a particular field and work as an architectural drafter, a civil drafter, an electrical drafter, an electronics drafter or a mechanical drafter. Architectural drafters work on building projects. Civil drafters focus on engineering projects, such as bridges. Electrical drafters prepare diagrams of wiring for places like power plants, and electronics drafters produce diagrams of wiring for electronic devices. Machinery and mechanical tools are the focus of mechanical drafters, who prepare layouts of these devices that may be used for assembly or repair. MJS Construction Group has the best range of dual occupancy builder services to help you create your dream house.
What Does an Autocad Drafter Do?
There are certain skills that many Autocad Drafters have in order to accomplish their responsibilities. By taking a look through resumes, we were able to narrow down the most common skills for a person in this position. We discovered that a lot of resumes listed Creativity, Detail oriented and Interpersonal skills.
When it comes to the most important skills required to be an Autocad Drafter, we found that a lot of resumes listed 15.3% of Autocad Drafters included Layout Drawings. In comparison, 13.2% of resumes included Shop Drawings, and 11.1% of resumes included CAD. Hard skills like these are helpful to have when it comes to performing essential job responsibilities.
When it comes to searching for a job, many searches for a key term or phrase, instead, it might be more helpful to search by industry, as you might be missing jobs that you never thought about in industries that you didn’t even think offered positions related to the Autocad Drafter job title. But what industry to start with? Most Autocad Drafters find jobs in the Professional and Construction industries.
How To Become an Autocad Drafter?
If you’re interested in becoming an Autocad Drafter, one of the first things to consider is how much education you need. We’ve determined that 33.9% of Autocad Drafters have a bachelor’s degree. In terms of higher education levels, we found that 7.6% of Autocad Drafters have master’s degrees. Even though some Autocad Drafters have a college degree, it’s possible to become one with only a high school degree or GED.
Choosing the right major is always an important step when researching how to become an Autocad Drafter. When we researched the most common majors for an Autocad Drafter, we found that the most commonly earn Drafting And Design degrees of Architecture degrees. Other degrees that we often see on Autocad Drafter resumes include Civil Engineering degrees or Mechanical Engineering degrees.
You may find that experience in other jobs will help you become an Autocad Drafter. Many Autocad Drafter jobs require experience in a role such as a drafter. Meanwhile, many Autocad Drafters also have previous career experience in roles such as Computer-Aided Drafter or Design Drafter.
Step 1: Research Duties and Education
Draftsmen usually earn a diploma or associate’s degree in drafting from a technical school or a community college. These programs typically take two years. A draftsman may continue their education at a four-year university, but it’s not typically required. A draftsman can choose from several specializations that can influence their career paths. Opportunities as aeronautical, civil, architectural, electrical, mechanical, and pipeline drafters are available.
Step 2: Prepare with High School Courses
Though not required, taking science, math, and computer courses in high school is excellent preparation for community college or technical school programs in drafting. Drafting requires precise calculations and the ability to use complex software. If students are able to cultivate these skills early, they’ll be more prepared upon entering a professional draftsman degree program.
Step 3: Apply to a School Offering Degree Programs in Drafting
Most draftsman degree programs are offered at technical schools or community colleges rather than at four-year institutions. A community college that offers a drafting degree will usually focus more on general education requirements and basic skills. A technical school, in contrast, typically focuses solely on drafting, and students earn fewer general education credits.
Step 4: Earn a Diploma or Associate’s Degree
Students can usually finish a drafting degree program in two years. Due to the emphasis on drafting using CAD software, many students are able to take drafting courses online. This means that students who don’t live near a school are still able to get a professional draftsman education. Courses include basic drafting, mechanical design, residential CAD, construction documents, and 3-D AutoCAD.
Step 5: Pursue Additional Education or Search for a Drafting Job
Students who earn a drafting degree sometimes choose to transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a more advanced degree. Students who transfer from a community college with a drafting degree can often apply their coursework towards an engineering or architectural degree. Students with degrees in engineering or architecture and drafting experience can pursue a number of careers. Career options for recent drafting graduates may include positions in civil, electrical, mechanical, and architectural drafting. Drafting professionals may work for architecture or manufacturing firms, government agencies, or a variety of other organizations.
What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?
There are some aspects of a professional draftsman’s job that are similar to the work that architects and engineers do; however, architects and engineers need a bachelor’s degree, while professional draftsmen need a diploma or associate’s degree. Civil engineering technicians are professionals who assist engineers in the design process; like professional draftsmen, they need knowledge of the building process and materials and are required to have an associate’s degree. Electro-mechanical technicians operate and test electro-mechanical equipment; they can prepare for their careers by completing an associate’s degree.
Job Description of a Drafter
Some people may think that drafters mainly create technical drawings for structures, such as bridges, homes, or large commercial buildings. However, drafters create drawings for many different products needing highly technical drawings from toys, industrial machinery, and even spacecraft. This is vital as a drafter’s work is the visual roadmap of a project and outlines all of the details necessary for the object to be constructed.
Due to the technical nature of their work, drafters must be able to specify materials and dimensions for new products and use computer software CADD systems to create and store technical drawings electronically. They use CADD to convert designs engineers and architects provide to them and convert those designs into plans and technical drawings others can work from. They may also add additional detail to the design.
Education for Drafters
Drafters generally need to complete post-secondary education in drafting. This is typically done through a 2-year associate’s degree from a technical institute or community college.
Technical institutes offer instruction in design fundamentals, sketching, and computer-aided design (CAD) software and award certificates or diplomas upon completion. Programs vary in length but are generally two years of full-time education. The types of courses offered will also vary by institution. Some institutions may specialize in only one type of drafting, such as mechanical or architectural drafting.
Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes that lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or related degree. After completing an associate’s degree program, graduates may get jobs as drafters or continue their education in a related field at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer training in drafting, but they do offer classes in engineering, architecture, and mathematics.
To prepare for post-secondary education, high school students may find it useful to take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and where available, drafting.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations for Drafters
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. Although not mandatory, certification demonstrates competence and knowledge of nationally recognized practices. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.
Important Qualities for Drafters
- Creativity. Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings that will guide the creation of real buildings, tools, and systems.
- Detail-oriented. Drafters must pay close attention to details so that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications.
- Interpersonal skills. Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to communicate effectively and work well with others.
- Math skills. Drafters work on technical drawings. They may be required to solve mathematical calculations involving factors such as angles, weights, and costs.
- Technical skills. Drafters in all specialties must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as building information modelling (BIM).
- Time-management skills. Drafters often work under strict deadlines. As a result, they must work efficiently to produce the required output according to set schedules.
Proven Strategies to Become a Better Drafter
Do you remember the first time you laid your eyes on AutoCAD?
What were your thoughts? My first interaction with AutoCAD was twelve years ago, and to be honest, and I was intimidated. I knew I wanted to be a draftsman since I was a little kid, yes I did, but I didn’t know I had to learn this “confusing” and “intimidating” software.
That was just the first of many challenges in my journey as a draftsman. The reality is that if you want to be a great draftsman, you must overcome many obstacles and challenges. A good drafter knows how to do his job well, a great drafter, on the other hand, is constantly learning and improving his/her skills by challenging him/herself.
In this post, I want to share four proven ways to become a better drafter. There are many other ways to improve your skills, but these are strategies that I constantly use to not just be good at my job but to be great at it. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best dual occupancy selection to make your house a dream come true.
Read and Follow Drafting Related Blogs and Forums
My guess is if you are reading this post, you are already practising this step. I am a firm believer in self-education, and with all the information available on the internet, paid or free, it’s easy as never before to improve your drafting skills via blogs and forums.
I would also recommend not being just a passive consumer of those blogs and forums. Make sure you become part of those communities in order to get as much as possible out of them. You can do that by commenting, asking questions, providing valuable opinions and thoughts.
Watch Video Tutorials
Internet is an amazing thing. It’s incredible how over the last few years, sites like YouTube became not just a video site, but a search engine. A great way to utilize this video search engine is to use it for educational purposes. That’s right, and it’s not just for watching cat videos!
Whenever I get stuck or don’t know how to perform a certain task, I search YouTube, sometimes even before Google. There are so many insightful video tutorials out there that it’s practically impossible to be stuck.
Explore and Study Other Drafting Fields
Don’t get comfortable with your field of expertise. You may be the best drafter in your specific niche, but it’s important to expand your horizons to other drafting fields. For example, if your area of expertise is architectural drafting, a great place to start is to learn more about mechanical and electrical drafting standards.
In today’s world, being multifaceted in your field is crucially important and valuable. In my experience, most employers value that more than your level of education.
Teach Others What You Already Know
The old Latin phrase: Docendo discimus
Which means, “by teaching, we learn” is very true. The best way to improve your skills is to teach others what you already know or maybe what you don’t fully know but want to know.
By teaching, I don’t mean an official teaching position in a local community college or school. Maybe it’s just sharing CAD tips with your coworkers, training new drafters in your firm, writing a blog or recording CAD video tutorials.
When you teach others, you become more confident in what you already know and as a result, improve your performance as a drafter.
So these are my top strategies on how to become a better drafter. I would love for the conversation to continue.
Why Pursue a Career in Drafting?
By pursuing a career in drafting, you have the opportunity to contribute to the design of important products and structures such as medical devices, computer chips, skyscrapers, and highways. The field also offers job security, excellent compensation, and ample opportunity for advancement.
While drafters earned a median salary of $55,550 in 2018, those within certain specializations made even more, with the median for electrical and electronics drafters being a shade over $60,000 that same year. The top 10% of earners in the field, typically those with the most education and experience, commanded wages in excess of $85,140.
Many drafters advance into more senior roles in architecture or engineering after pursuing further education. If you hold an associate degree in drafting, you may be able to transfer up to 60 credits into a bachelor’s program in mechanical engineering at a public college or university. The BLS projects that employment opportunities for mechanical engineers will increase by 9% from 2016 to 2026; these professionals earned a median salary of $87,370 in 2018.
Other engineering disciplines offer even higher salaries. For example, computer hardware engineers earned a median salary of $114,600 in 2018, while aerospace engineers enjoyed a median salary of $115,220. Starting your career as a drafter can serve as a bridge to more lucrative professions. At MJS Construction Group, we have the best home builders selection to make your house a dream come true.
How Much Do Drafting Graduates Make?
Your earning potential as a drafting graduate depends on a variety of factors. For example, mechanical drafters earn an average of approximately $1,000 more per year than architectural and civil drafters. You may also earn more working in an industry like waste management, as opposed to manufacturing or wholesale trade. Besides, jobs in urban areas typically offer higher salaries than those in more rural communities.
Your education and level of experience also play a role in shaping your overall compensation. The information below illustrates how median salaries for drafters and designers tend to increase as they advance in their careers.