Is Drafting and Design the Right Career Choice For You?
If you love using computers but also love drawing and art, then a career in drafting and design allows you to combine these two skills. Computer aided drafting and design enables drafters to produce technical drawings that provide accurate visual guidelines of the structure. These drawings will include specific technical details including dimensions, materials, and procedures.
They are drawn according to calculations made by architects, surveyors, engineers, or even scientists. These drawings don’t just relate to buildings, but are used to construct just about anything you care to think of, from skyscrapers to microchips. The drawings produced during drafting and design can be stored electronically, printed, or even programmed directly into an automated manufacturing system.
Drafting and Design Specialties
If you want to work in drafting and design then there are many specialties to choose from. You can choose to work for the aeronautical industry preparing drawings for engineers which will be used in the manufacture of aircraft, aircraft parts, and missiles, or you could choose to work in an architectural firm, preparing drawings for new construction projects. You can even specialize further by working on commercial or residential properties.
Drafting and design is also very important in civil engineering, and is used to prepare drawings which are used in major construction projects such as new highways, pipelines, or bridges. Electrical drafters will prepare wiring and layout diagrams, while electronic drafters will draw assembly diagrams and layout drawings which are used in the manufacture of electronic components and devices.
What Kind of Training is Needed for a Career in Drafting and Design?
The minimum qualification is two years post-secondary school training in drafting which is offered by community colleges, technical institutes, and also in some colleges and universities. If you are thinking about this type of career then it may be worthwhile contacting prospective employers to ask which qualifications they favor.
The type of training offered by technical institutes tends to be quite intensive, while the education in community colleges tends to be a little more generalized. They will include more classes in drafting theory and in general education, but have the advantage that courses completed here are likely to be accepted as credit for courses at four-year colleges.
You may wish to complete a two-year associate degree program and then try to find a job as a drafter, or you can choose to go on and continue your education at a four-year college. If you choose this second option then be well aware a majority of four-year colleges don’t offer drafting training, but they will have courses in architecture, engineering, and mathematics which are important skills within this field.
There’s no doubt that drafting and design is an exciting career choice, and the job outlook is pretty good, especially for those choosing to specialize in architectural and civil drafting. They should also be good prospects for anyone choosing to specialize in engineering or electronics, as the designs for new products are becoming increasingly complex. The job prospects are definitely better for anyone who has proven technical skills and experience with computer aided design systems. This career is likely to be very sensitive to changes within the economy as it is tied to construction and manufacturing.
Does a Career in Drafting and Design Pay Well?
The levels of salary vary according to the area of specialty, location and experience. Those working for electrical and electronics companies are likely to be the most highly paid, while those working in architectural or engineering industries are likely to be the lowest paid. In May 2009 the median salary for those working in drafting and design was $52,510.
It’s worth remembering that drafters are usually working in comfortable offices and are generally only required to work a standard 40 hour week. A number of employers also pay for continuing education and drafters can go on to qualify as architects, engineers, or engineering technicians.