Drafters

What Drafters Do

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8WjCE-YfeE

Work Environment

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.

Pay

The median annual wage for drafters was $56,830 in May 2019.

Job Outlook

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.

Duties

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
Mechanical drafters 57,500
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%
Manufacturing 24
Construction 10
Administrative and support and waste management and remediation services 3
Wholesale trade 2

Although drafters spend much of their time working on computers in an office, some may visit jobsites to collaborate with architects and engineers.

Work Schedules

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.

Occupation Job Duties Entry-Level Education Median Annual Pay, May 2019

Architects

Architects plan and design houses, factories, office buildings, and other structures.

Bachelor’s degree $80,750

Civil Engineering Technicians

Civil engineering technicians help civil engineers to plan, design, and build highways, bridges, and other infrastructure projects for commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.

Associate’s degree $53,410

Electrical and electronic engineering technicians

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop electrical and electronic equipment.

Associate’s degree $65,260

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacture of electrical equipment.

Bachelor’s degree $101,250

Industrial Designers

Industrial designers combine art, business, and engineering to develop the concepts for manufactured products.

Bachelor’s degree $68,890

Landscape Architects

Landscape architects design parks and other outdoor spaces.

Bachelor’s degree $69,360

Mechanical Engineering Technicians

Mechanical engineering technicians help mechanical engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture mechanical devices.

Associate’s degree $56,980

Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices.

Bachelor’s degree $88,430

Surveying and Mapping Technicians

Surveying and mapping technicians collect data and make maps of the Earth’s surface.

High school diploma or equivalent $45,010

Surveyors

Surveyors make precise measurements to determine property boundaries.

Bachelor’s degree $63,420

For more information on schools offering programs in drafting and related fields, visit

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges  

For more information on certification, visit

American Design Drafting Association

Related BLS Articles

Career Outlook: “You’re a what? CAD designer”

O*NET

Architectural Drafters

Architectural and Civil Drafters

Civil Drafters

Drafters, All Other

Electrical Drafters

Electrical and Electronics Drafters

Electronic Drafters

Mechanical Drafters


Suggested citation:

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 ).