what is a drafter?

As a drafter, you create technical plans for buildings and other structures. You work with engineers and architects to gather the specifications and drawings before developing a detailed diagram or schematics. Prior to completing the technical drawing, you also determine the material and equipment needs of the project. The role requires in-depth knowledge of 3D modelling, architectural concepts and engineering principles. With your expertise in creating technical plans, you develop designs for a variety of structures, from bridges and houses to microchips.

Drafters can specialize in various areas, from architecture to manufacturing and engineering. For instance, if you choose to work in construction, you work on diagrams for building and construction projects. You also create diagrams for the electrical wiring of construction projects, electrical distribution systems and power plants. The role requires proficiency in using AutoCAD and computer-aided design (CAD) software for creating technical drawings.

Aside from technical skills for using drawing software, you require in-depth knowledge of your area of specialization. For instance, mechanical drafting differs from architectural or civil engineering drafting. As a drafter, you communicate your ideas to explain the diagrams to the construction team. Listening skills are also vital in the role since you listen and interpret ideas from architects or engineers into detailed drawings.

Would working as a drafter suit your mathematical skills and attentiveness to details? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a drafter role.

drafter jobs

average drafter salary

According to Job Bank, drafters take home an average salary of $70,013 per year. The earnings fluctuate based on experience and educational qualifications. For instance, when you are a recent graduate, you start with a salary of $49,837 per year. The most experienced drafters take home a salary of $82,209 annually.

what factors affect the salary of a drafter?

As a drafter, your experience influences your earnings. When you have minimal experience, you receive an entry-level salary. However, your proficiency in technical drawing software and additional years of experience increases your earnings. Having professional certification also improves your competitiveness and earning potential.

Your area of specialization influences your earnings. For instance, architectural drafters earn a different salary from civil engineers or electrical drafters. Some specializations require additional certifications or training, and you are likely to earn a higher salary due to the complexity of the tasks.

The size of the project also affects your earnings. When you work on a large project, you take home a higher salary because of the scope and complexity of the duties. Smaller projects have limited resources, so you will likely earn less.

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types of drafters

Some of the areas of specialization for drafters include:

  • architectural drafter: as an architectural drafter, you prepare technical plans and drawings for construction projects. You draw the architectural and structural features of buildings and determine the materials required to complete the construction work. You may specialize in residential and commercial buildings or focus on reinforced concrete, wood and steel.
  • civil drafter: you are expected to draw structural features of civil engineering projects. You also prepare topographical maps used in the construction of highways and bridges.
  • electrical and electronics drafter: as an electrical drafter, you prepare diagrams for installing wiring in residential and commercial buildings. You also prepare the technical drawings used to repair electrical equipment. Electronics drafters produce wiring diagrams and technical plans for manufacturing electronic devices.
  • mechanical drafter: your job involves preparing drawings to create or assemble machinery and mechanical tools. The technical plans indicate the dimensions and fastening methods required to assemble the machines.

working as a drafter

Are you interested in creating drawings and preparing technical plans? Check out the duties and responsibilities of a drafter.


drafter skills and education

The following educational requirements are necessary to become a drafter:

  • education: pursue a two or three-year college degree in engineering design and drafting technology. Alternatively, join an apprenticeship program that takes three to four years and then start your career as a drafting technician.
  • professional certification: find trade certifications for drafters to improve your knowledge in the field. In Canada, some employers require certification in engineering design and drafting technology. In Alberta, you can receive certification from the Association of Science and Engineering Technology Professionals, while in Manitoba, you register with the Certified Technicians and Technologists Association of Manitoba.

competencies and characteristics of drafters

As a drafter, you rely on the following skills and competencies:

  • math skills: as a drafter, you require advanced knowledge of geometry and trigonometry. A keen understanding of calculations, shapes and lines is also valuable for your role. Some specializations prioritize certain math skills. For instance, geometry is an important skill if you work on construction drawings.
  • artistic ability: while your job is to translate sketches into usable schematics and workflow layouts, having artistic ability is useful. You can recommend improvements to the design to improve aesthetic appeal.
  • technical expertise: as a drafter, you operate different CAD software and need proficiency in using the programs. Additional technical knowledge is also important, depending on the area of specialization. For instance, a mechanical drafter requires knowledge of the operating software used to run machines.


Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of a drafter.


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