How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Drafter: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $53,470
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Don't Take Work Home
    Career Attribute
  • Office Work Environment
    Career Attribute

Drafters transform the ideas of architects and engineers into detailed, implementable construction plans called blueprints. Using computer-aid design (CAD) software, drafters transform rough sketches and ideas into actionable building plans. They draft designs for electronics, buildings, and civil projects.

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What is a Drafter?

The following job responsibilities are common for individuals in drafter roles:

  • Discuss sketches and ideas with architects/engineers to form a complete understanding of the needs and goals of a project
  • Operate computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) software to transform ideas into actionable building plans
  • Detail plans with all information needed to complete a project, such as dimensions and building materials
  • Review completed designs with engineers/architects to determine that final blueprints are correct

A Day in the Life

Between the architect/engineer of an exciting new product or structure and the individuals who build it is a drafter. Drafters bring engineer’s and architect’s ideas to life by creating the blueprints that will be used to create new buildings, products, or components. They work closely with engineers and architects to gain a full understanding of the project being proposed, and they transform those ideas into technical, detailed blueprints that provide the team that builds the project with a plan for construction.

To create blueprints, drafters use highly sophisticated computer-aided design (CAD) software allows them to create blueprints in a standard format that builders are used to following, and building information modeling (BIM) software allows drafters to create 3-D models of the project. The 3-D models are used to refine ideas with architects, engineers, and their clients. Showing exactly what a finished project will look like, 3-D models allow for refinement of ideas and suggestions until everyone agrees to move forward with a plan.

Drafters work for multiple industries. They may work in building construction, drafting blueprints for new homes, businesses, and skyscrapers. They may work on government projects and draft plans for civil projects like bridges, dams, and parks. They may also work alongside engineers in product/component development, drafting plans for new electronics, appliances, or cell phones, as well as the components used in those products that make them work.

Typical Work Schedule

Most drafter roles are full-time positions conducted during normal business hours. They may occasionally have to work overtime to meet deadlines for creating blueprints.

Drafter Specializations

  • Architectural drafters work alongside architects and develop blueprints for new building construction.
  • Civil drafters design blueprints and topographical maps that are used in civil projects for building things like dams, bridges, parks, and public transportation systems.
  • Electrical and electronics drafters work alongside engineers and draft blueprints for new electronics, appliances, and electrical components.

Typical Employers

For the most part, drafters work for one of three types of companies: architectural or engineering consulting companies, manufacturing companies, or construction companies.

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How To Become a Drafter

To become a drafter, you’ll need to earn either an associate’s degree in drafting or complete a postsecondary certificate program that focuses on drafting. These programs teach aspiring drafters how to perform their roles by training them how to create blueprints using computer-aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) software. Students may choose to pursue a general drafting education, or they may choose to focus their coursework on the specialization they’re most interested in pursuing after college.

After graduating with a certificate or associate’s degree, you’ll qualify for entry-level positions as a drafter. Most drafters start off working with manufacturing companies in assistant roles, creating drafts under the supervision of an experienced drafter. With a few years of professional experience as a drafter, you should be able to qualify for higher-paying and more prestigious roles, creating drafts for larger and more complex projects for architectural or engineering consulting companies.

Working as a drafter is also a good step for career advancement. With a few more years of education, drafters can earn bachelor’s degrees and move into roles as architects or engineers. Because they work so closely with those roles, and because they are fully trained in CAD and BIM software, drafters are in the perfect position to transition their professional experience into careers as architects and engineers. However, for this type of advancement, a bachelor’s degree will be required.

Drafter Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

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High Range


National Hourly Wage

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High Range


How do Drafter salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Drafter's can make an average annual salary of $53,470, or $26 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $40,810 or $20 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #350 Nationally for All Careers

Programs and Degrees

Here are the most common degrees for becoming a Drafter. a is usually recommended and specifically a degree or coursework that prepares you for the particular field, see below.

Highest Education Among Drafters

  • 1.3%   Doctorate
  • 3.9%   Masters
  • 21.8%   Bachelors
  • 33.2%   Associates
  • 28.4%   College
  • 10.2%   High School
  • 1.2%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Drafter job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -2,800 jobs for a total of 91,200 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #667 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Drafters

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Engineering services 31,500 200 0%
Nonresidential building construction 2,300 -100 0%
Residential building construction 2,300 --- 0%

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