What Drafters Do
Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings.
Although drafters spend much of their time working on computers in an office, some may visit jobsites in order to collaborate with architects and engineers. Most drafters work full time.
How to Become a Drafter
Drafters typically complete education after high school, often through a program at a community college or technical school. Some programs lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or a related degree. Others result in a certificate or diploma.
The median annual wage for drafters was $56,830 in May 2019.
Employment of drafters is projected to decline 4 percent from 2019 to 2029. Employment growth will vary by specialty.
Drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.
Drafters typically do the following:
- Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software
- Work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects
- Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
- Add details to architectural plans from their knowledge of building techniques
- Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new products
- Work under the supervision of engineers or architects
Some drafters are referred to as CAD operators. Using CAD systems, drafters create and store technical drawings digitally. These drawings contain information on how to build a structure or machine, the dimensions of the project, and what materials are needed to complete the project.
Drafters work with CAD to create schematics that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into building information modeling (BIM) systems. These systems allow drafters, architects, construction managers, and engineers to create and collaborate on digital models of physical buildings and machines. Through three-dimensional rendering, BIM software allows designers and engineers to see how different elements in their projects work together.
The following are examples of types of drafters:
Architectural drafters draw structural features and details for buildings and other construction projects. These workers may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. They may also specialize by the materials used, such as steel, wood, or reinforced concrete.
Civil drafters prepare topographical maps used in construction and civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, and dams.
Electrical drafters prepare wiring diagrams that construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in power plants, electrical distribution systems, and residential and commercial buildings.
Electronics drafters produce wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams for circuit boards, and layout drawings used in manufacturing and in installing and repairing electronic devices and components.
Mechanical drafters prepare layouts that show the details for a variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices, such as medical equipment. These layouts indicate dimensions, fastening methods, and other requirements for assembly. Mechanical drafters sometimes create production molds.
Drafters held about 200,900 jobs in 2019. Employment in the detailed occupations that make up drafters was distributed as follows:
|Architectural and civil drafters||102,900|
|Electrical and electronics drafters||25,300|
|Drafters, all other||15,200|
The largest employers of drafters were as follows:
|Architectural, engineering, and related services||48%|
|Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services||3|
Although drafters spend much of their time working on computers in an office, some may visit jobsites to collaborate with architects and engineers.
Most drafters work full time. Some work more than 40 hours a week.
This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of drafters.
For more information on schools offering programs in drafting and related fields, visit
For more information on certification, visit
Related BLS Articles
Career Outlook: “You’re a what? CAD designer”
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Drafters,
at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/drafters.htm (visited ).