Architectural & Civil Drafter
Architectural drafters work with an architect, putting his structural concepts into blueprints and other documents that provide precise design images and accurate dimensions. In many cases an architectural drafter's work becomes construction documents. Some in this profession end up specializing in a type of structure, such as residential or commercial, or in a certain type of construction material such as concrete, structural steel or lumber.
Civil drafters prepare drawings and topographical images that are used in major large civil engineering projects such as highways and bridges, dams and water treatment systems. Many of these professionals work for a government agency.
An associates degree is a good entry level education; many drafters continue in school while working and obtain additional education in architecture or engineering. Knowledge of CAD computer systems and comfort in working with them is essential in the drafting profession today.
The American Design Drafting Association has established a voluntary certification program that requires sitting for an exam. Most employers do not require this certification, but it provides some credentials for knowledge of the job basics including drawing and math skills.
In 2006 the Department of Labor estimated that 253,000 drafters were working in drafting; almost half of these were in the architectural and civil fields.
The job growth for this profession is expected to be slower than the overall growth for all job categories over the next several years. Construction will shift out of the manufacturing sector and into other types of commercial structures. The increasing sophistication of CAD systems may create an office job classification that replaces a classically trained draftsman with mechanical drawing skills.
Lowest 10% $13.31 $27,680
Median Salary $20.82 $43,310
Highest 10% $31.28 $65,050
Source: U.S. Department of Labor