Drafter (CAD) Career Information

The following information is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Drafters. Please visit the website for a more comprehensive breakdown of the data.


Drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Job Duties

  • Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects
  • Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
  • Add details to architectural plans from their knowledge of building techniques
  • Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new products
  • Work under the supervision of engineers or architects


National Average Annual Pay (2019): $54,840

Top 5 States

1. Maryland


2. New York


3. Massachusetts


4. New Jersey


5. New Mexico


Bottom 5 States

50. Alabama


49. Missouri


48. Indiana


47. Tennessee


46. Maine



To become a drafter, first enroll in a drafting program. This often leads to an associate’s degree. Topics covered in drafting courses include design fundamentals, sketching, and computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Certification is not required though many opt to get as it demonstrates competence. The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters in several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.

  • 1. Enroll in a Drafting Program

    This could be done at a technical school or community college. Graduates earn a certificate or often an associate’s degree.

  • 2. Get Certification (Optional)

    The ADDA offers certification.

  • 3. Find a Job as a Drafter


Interpersonal Skills

Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to communicate effectively and work well with others.

Technical Skills

Drafters in all specialties must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as building information modeling (BIM).

Time- Management Skills

Drafters often work under deadline. As a result, they must work efficiently to produce the required output according to set schedules.


Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings of buildings, tools, and systems.

Math Skills

Drafters work on technical drawings. They may be required to calculate angles, weights, costs, and other values.

Detail Oriented

Drafters must take care that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications.

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