What Does a Drafter Do?
Drafters draw technical plans and designs to assist production and construction workers in building various structures and items. These visual guidelines include technical details, such as specific materials, measurements and calculations that will be used to create a product or build a structure. Drafters consult with engineers, scientists and architects to complete rough sketches. They are well versed in building techniques, design elements and engineering and manufacturing theories, all of which help in completing their intricate drawings. Drafters can be employed in many specialties, such as aeronautics, architecture, electronics and process piping or pipeline drafting. Drafters use computer-aided drafting (CAD) programs to plan their drawings, make adjustments and ensure comprehensive designs. They also use technical handbooks, calculators, tables, state-of-the-art computers, as well as their knowledge of drafting techniques to do their drawings and explain their processes to architects, engineers and construction workers.

What Is the Employment and Salary Outlook for a Drafter?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment and salary outlook for drafters is expected to be consistent between 2008 and 2018. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, drafters will see a slight employment increase of 4 percent, which is slower than most occupations. Growth will vary by specialty and field, with architectural and civil drafting being the fastest growing specialty. The demand for drafters trained in architectural and civil design can be attributed to the construction activity occurring from the growing U.S. population, as well as the need to improve the country’s transportation system and public facilities. Mechanical, electronic and electrical drafters will see little to no employment changes, except for those working in engineering and drafting services firms. These workers will be asked to find solutions to complex design problems, stemming from new products and faulty manufacturing processes. The salary outlook for drafters should also remain stable, but pay varies by location, specialty and job duties. According to the Bureau, architectural, engineering and related services drafters made an average salary of $47,910 in 2008.

How Can I Become a Drafter?
Before you can enter the technical field of drafting, you must first complete the necessary educational and training steps. While some drafters find work without a college degree, most employers prefer applicants with at least an associate degree in drafting. You can earn your associate degree in two years at one of many postsecondary institutions that offer drafting, such as technical institutes, community colleges and some four-year universities. An associate degree covers the fundamentals of drafting, science and mathematics, allowing you to hone your technical drawing skills and familiarize yourself with industry-specific equipment. According to the Bureau, employers are more likely to hire applicants with well-developed drafting and technical drawing skills, as well as industry knowledge and science, math and engineering technology skills. With an associate degree you can complete your program faster, enter the field and start learning valuable skills while gaining irreplaceable work experience.