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Drafting and Design Technology
AWARD OFFERED Associate in Applied Science Degree (5 semesters), Certificate (4 semesters)
Drafters prepare technical drawings and plans used by production and construction workers to build everything from manufactured products such as toys, toasters, industrial machinery, and spacecraft to structures such as houses, office buildings, and oil and gas pipelines. Drafters’ drawings provide visual guidelines, show the technical details of the products and structures, and specify dimensions, materials, and procedures. Traditionally, drafters sat at drawing boards and used pencils, pens, compasses, protractors, triangles, and other drafting devices to prepare a drawing manually. Most drafters now use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to prepare drawings. Despite the nearly universal use of CAD systems, manual drafting and sketching are still used in certain applications.
Many drafters work for architectural, engineering, and related services firms that design construction projects or do other engineering work on a contract basis for other industries. Jobs are also found in manufacturing industries such as machinery, fabricated metal, computer and electronics, and transportation equipment, including aerospace products and parts manufacturing, ship and boat building. Others are employed in construction, government, wholesale trade, and utilities, or are self-employed.
Opportunities are best for individuals with at least two years of postsecondary training in drafting and considerable skill and experience using CAD systems, along with well-developed drafting and mechanical drawing skills, knowledge of drafting standards, mathematics, science, and engineering technology.
Industrial growth and increasingly complex design problems associated with new products and manufacturing processes will increase the demand for drafting services. Drafters with CAD expertise are beginning to break out of the traditional drafting role and increasingly do work traditionally performed by engineers and architects, thus also increasing demand for drafters.
Earnings for drafters vary by specialty and level of responsibility. Annual earnings of drafters reached more than $49,630 in 2012, with similar numbers of mechanical drafters earning more than $50,360 and electrical and electronics drafters earning more than $55,700. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics)
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