How to Become a Draftsperson (With Steps and Salary)
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A draftsperson or drafter turns the ideas of designers and architects into technical drawings. Learning how to become a draftsperson and what their typical duties might be can help you decide if this is the right career path for you. In this article, we look at what a draftsperson is, outline the step to become one, explore what they do and answer some career-related questions about drafting.
What is a draftsperson?
A draftsperson creates visual representations for architects, engineers and building contractors. These include design plans and technical drawings with project specifications. Drafters usually work in offices, although they may occasionally visit building sites. A drafter can also work in a specific industry under the following job titles:
Architectural and civil drafters: They prepare schematics for residential and commercial building projects and topographical maps for civil construction projects such as highways and bridges.
Electrical drafters: These individuals produce wiring diagrams, layout drawings and assembly diagrams that electricians or technicians use to install and repair electrical equipment or electrical distribution systems in buildings.
Mechanical drafters: They usually prepare design layouts, including dimensions and fastening methods, for various mechanical tools, machinery and devices.
Aeronautical drafters: They create blueprints for aeroplanes, drones and mechanical projectiles.
How to become a draftsperson
Learning how to become a draftsperson can involve gaining specific academic and professional qualifications. The right education and training can provide a good foundation for your career. You can follow these steps to become a drafter:
1. Complete TAFE or vocational training
You can pursue a Vocational Educational Training (VET) qualification in building design or residential drafting to enter this career. Consider getting a Certificate IV in Engineering Drafting to qualify for entry-level positions. The course takes around one or two years to complete and is available in most Technical and Further Education (TAFE) institutes. A typical course may cover basic drafting principles, geometric designs, sketching and CAD software. Upon completion, you can receive an industry-recognised certificate that you can include in your application. Pursuing a drafting course from a reputable TAFE institution can raise your profile as a draftsperson.
2. Become a junior drafter
After completing your education, you can gain hands-on experience by working as a junior drafter. Aim to work in the area you want to specialise, such as a local architectural firm or construction company. As a junior drafter, you may create building plans for approval, research and add relevant information to drawings and survey construction sites under the guidance of a long-serving architect or engineer.
3. Search for a full-time position
Once you gain academic qualifications and have experience working as a junior, you can look for a full-time position. If you have left a good impression on your current employer, they may promote you from a junior position into a more advanced role. You may also look for drafting jobs that match your skill level or experience using online job boards. Once you register as a candidate, you can submit your application to any job that matches your qualifications. It's important to polish your CV and highlight your qualifications and skills to impress potential employers.
Related: How to Become an Interior Designer
What do drafters do?
Here are the daily duties of a drafter:
Draw sketches, plans and designs
A draftsperson usually turns engineering design and concepts into usable technical drawings. They may produce accurate and detailed blueprints and foundational details for residential houses, factories or commercial buildings. A draftsperson may sketch on paper or use computer-assisted drafting software (CAD) to produce 2D and 3D technical drawings.
Estimate material costs
Drafters may also calculate the building dimensions and other physical components of projects. They can ensure that a drawing has the proper scale and estimate the weight limitations or requirements in materials. A drafter can determine the overall cost of individual materials and the overall project from their estimations.
Prepare multiple versions of technical drawings
Using the notes of an engineer or architect, a drafter may also create and submit technical drawings for their supervisors to review. They can also make the necessary revisions or adjustments per their manager's feedback. As they edit technical drawings, a draftsperson usually ensures the blueprints comply with building regulations and quality standards.
When doing renovations, builders may consult schematics. These documents can be the original blueprints or technical drawings. For future reference, a drafter may archive schematics of buildings, devices and other projects.
Review structural details
Drafters may also use their knowledge and expertise to review designs with the architectural teams. They can identify any faults in the designs, then add or remove specific structural details before the final document goes to print. Such reviews can ensure that final architect, electrical and mechanical designs are correct.
Skills of a successful draftsperson
Drafters usually work on a building or construction project. Most projects require drafters with excellent drafting knowledge and strong technical skills. To succeed in their work, drafters usually require the following skills:
Math skills: Working as a professional draftsperson usually requires advanced knowledge of algebra, geometry and trigonometry. Using their math skills, the drafter can determine the correct building dimensions and proportions in schematics.
Technical expertise: It's crucial for a draftsperson to know how to use product management software and computer-aided design tools. AutoCAD allows architectural drafters to create general-purpose blueprints while SolidWorks allow electrical and mechanical drafters to produce sophisticated three-dimension models and simulations.
Detail awareness: Drafters usually consider the specific details of various buildings or systems when they draw plans and schematics, including product specifications and notes from engineers. If they grasp the finer details and information, they can produce accurate technical drawings and identify minor errors.
Artistic ability: A well-drafted drawing usually combines balance, form and composure. Using their artistic skills, drafters can transform ideas and concepts into usable layouts, schematics and 2D or 3D models.
Time management: Drafters usually work on multiple designs and projects at any given time. Strong time management skills can help drafters prioritise work and meet deadlines consistently.
Interpersonal skills: Whether working for a town planning council or an engineering firm, drafters interact with different people in their workplaces. The ability to communicate well and provide or receive feedback can ensure drafters develop strong working relationships with other professionals.
The national average salary of a drafter is $79,071 per year. Salary figures may vary depending on the candidate's experience, qualifications, employer and location. Senior and mid-level drafters usually earn more than juniors.
Frequently asked questions about draftsperson careers
Whether you aspire to be an architectural or an electrical drafter, it's crucial to learn important aspects of the job. The right information can help you make sound career decisions. In the section below, you can find answers to common questions about drafting:
What is the difference between a draftsperson and an engineer?
A draftsperson produces technical drawings or sketches from design ideas for architects, designers and engineers. Engineers design and oversee the technical aspect of construction projects. A draftsperson turns an engineer's ideas and concepts into elaborate diagrams and plans.
Where does a draftsperson work?
Architectural drafters usually work for architectural and engineering firms, construction companies and the engineering departments of large establishments. They can also work for property developers, town planning councils, landscape architects and surveyors. Many people start as junior drafters, working under the supervision of a senior drafter before they take on more duties as their experience grows. Some drafters work on general construction projects, while others focus on specific types of structures and construction materials.
Is drafting a good career choice?
Drafting can be a good career if you like working with computers and are passionate about drawing and art. Job prospects can be good for individuals with proven technical skills and experience in computer-aided design tools. Architectural firms, building companies and engineering firms may hire you for your artistic ability and technical skills.
What are some related alternative careers?
Some aspects of a drafter's job are like that of engineers and architects. While a drafter may require VET training, architects and engineers often require a diploma or bachelor's degree. These professionals usually gain a bachelor's degree in design or engineering and major in architectural engineering. Formal education may allow them to assist engineers with the design process. Electro-mechanical engineers may also perform some of the work that a draftsman does, especially creating 2D and 3D models using AutoCAD.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location. Please note that none of the companies mentioned in the article are affiliated with Indeed.
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