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What Are the Different Types of Drafting Jobs?

By T. Carrier
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Drafters are responsible for creating a visual blueprint for an object, and builders then use this blueprint to craft the object. Topics for focus can range from a small piece of machinery to a home to a sprawling city plan. Drafting jobs may include working with an architect on initial building design schemes as an architectural drafter or helping design smaller machines as a mechanical drafter. A drafter may also work on the engineering aspects of a building as a civil drafter or a structural drafter. Prospects may also narrow their focus to computer-aided design (CAD) drafting jobs.

Architectural drafting jobs are perhaps the longest-running and most prolific area for employment. Individuals in this field work closely with architects to compose preliminary designs for buildings. These may include homes or professional buildings like offices, schools, or hospitals. Architects, however, must compose and approve a final draft.

While architectural drafters team mainly with the architect, civil and structural drafters work more closely with engineers. These drafters help with determining mathematical calculations and ensuring the structural integrity of a building or structure. Such individuals create maps and diagrams based on an engineer’s information and also aid the engineers with issues like topography and the building’s inner structure. Civil drafting jobs may be of further assistance for large-scale plans like the development of a new city.

On a smaller level, mechanical drafters work with the designs of machines like manufacturing equipment. These drafters help convert diagrams into readable forms for builders. They also detail the parts and inner connections that will make the machine operable.

A CAD drafter is responsible for taking the ideas and thoughts of others and presenting them as a visual reality via computer technology. As such, the CAD drafter is often known as a concept drafter as well. Computer-oriented drafters will likely stay up to date on revolutionary drafting techniques and be proficient in using computer design programs, such as those that create three-dimensional images.

Individuals will likely need to take a prolonged educational and practical approach to securing drafting jobs. Enrollment in a higher education program, either at a university or a technical school, will generally be needed. Artistic and mathematical ability may also prove valuable. Hands-on experience gained through internships, apprenticeships, or other means can provide further advantage. Once an individual has secured a solid education and gained some experience, employment opportunities may be found in architectural or engineering businesses, or one may pursue private work in freelance drafting jobs.

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Discussion Comments
By Ana1234 — On Jun 19, 2013

Freelance drafting jobs would probably be quite a good gig. I mean, it sounds like you'd be able to do drafting jobs from home easily enough, as long as the people you were working with were willing to talk to you over the phone or the computer.

You'd be able to work on building plans for skyscrapers that were going to be put up all over the world, without getting out of your bed, which is my definition of a cool job.

By Fa5t3r — On Jun 18, 2013

@bythewell - Yeah, I think it just doesn't have high visibility as a career. I suspect what happens is the same for many other kinds of jobs that aren't immediately obvious, is that all the people who go in to learn about the obvious jobs (like architect) end up being gently rerouted into this kind of job, depending on their strengths.

It sounds like you need to be fairy good at computing and design as well as mathematics and so forth in order to get this kind of job. Mechanical drafting jobs might be filled by people who thought they would become straight-up engineers as well.

By bythewell — On Jun 17, 2013

One of my friends was going out with a drafter once and he told me it's one of those jobs that remains in demand even when there's few jobs to be had, just because no one goes into that line of work. Everyone wants to be an architect, rather than the drafter.

So if you are thinking about engineering jobs, this is definitely one that you might want to consider. The pay is very good and it sounds like it's quite an interesting job.

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