Entry Level Cad Drafter Salary
The work of drafters and designers touches almost every aspect of our modern life. From the products we buy and use to the buildings we live in and the infrastructure which provides our high quality of life, someone had to analyze what engineers, architects, and technicians devises and put it into an easy to use format for tradesmen, productions workers, and analysts. Working as a drafter is far more complicated than sitting at a computer and drawing pretty pictures.
Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings that will guide the creation of real buildings, tools, and systems. They must pay close attention to details so that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications. Drafters will work directly with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that these final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to communicate effectively and work well with others. Since drafters work on technical drawings, they will be required to solve mathematical calculations involving factors such as angles, weights, and costs. They must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as building information modeling (BIM).
An entry-level Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Drafter with less than one year experience can expect to earn an average total compensation of $15.97 based on an analysis of almost 250 salaries. Employment projections for drafters are projected to grow seven percent from 2016 to 2026; depending on one’s specialty. The engineering services and construction industries is expected to account for most new jobs for drafters. Computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) technologies allow engineers and architects to directly perform many tasks that were formerly done primarily by drafters.
Drafters often work under tight deadlines. As a result, they must work efficiently to produce the required output according to schedule. Overall competition for jobs is expected to be strong. Specifically, architectural and civil drafters may experience more competition for jobs than mechanical or electrical drafters because of the relatively high number of students graduating in those drafting specialties. The number of graduates in architectural and civil programs may exceed the number of available positions.
Demand for particular drafting specialties varies across the country because jobs depend on the needs of local employers. Mechanical drafter’s prospects are best in large manufacturing hubs. Many drafting jobs in construction and manufacturing will be sensitive to fluctuations in the overall economy.
Candidates proficient in CAD and BIM are likely to have better job opportunities.
Drafters use computer software to convert the ideas and designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers traditionally specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting. Their drawings are used to assist in designing everything from microchips to skyscrapers.
Many drafters are often referred to as CAD operators. Using CAD systems, drafters digitally create and store technical drawings. These drawings contain information on how to build a structure or machine, the dimensions of the project, and what materials are required to complete the project.
Drafters work with CAD so they can 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 as one.
Architectural drafters draw architectural and structural features of buildings for construction projects. These workers may specialize in a variety of building, such as residential or commercial. They may also specialize in 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 flood-control projects.
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 organize layouts that show the details for a wide variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices, such as medical equipment. These layouts indicate dimensions, fastening methods, and other requirements needed for assembly. Mechanical drafters at times create production molds.
Drafters held about 207,700 jobs in 2016. Although drafters spend much of their time working on computers in an office, some may visit job sites to work in partnership with architects and engineers. Most drafters worked full time in 2016.
Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate’s degree in drafting. 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 2 years in length. The courses offered will also vary by institution. Some institutions may specialize in only one category of drafting, such as mechanical or architectural drafting.
Community colleges offer programs comparable 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 can continue their education at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer instruction in drafting, but they do offer classes in engineering, architecture, and mathematics. To prepare for postsecondary education, high school students may find it useful to take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and where available, drafting.
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. Although not required, this certification demonstrates competence and knowledge of nationally recognized practices. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.