Civil drafter


Civil drafters draw and prepare sketches for civil engineers and architects of architectonic projects of different kinds, topographical maps, or for the reconstruction of existing structures. They lay down in the sketches all the specifications and requirements such as mathematical, aesthetic, engineering, and technical.

Civil drafters typically perform the following duties:

  • Create technical drawings and plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software, such as AutoCAD or MicroStation.
  • Interpret and analyze design specifications, sketches, and rough drafts provided by engineers, architects, or clients to prepare accurate and detailed drawings.
  • Ensure compliance with applicable codes, regulations, and safety standards in the design and drafting of civil engineering projects.
  • Collaborate with engineers, architects, and construction personnel to resolve design and construction issues, clarify specifications, and meet project deadlines.
  • Maintain accurate records of all drafting work, including revisions, changes, and approvals.
  • Participate in design and planning meetings with project managers, architects, and engineers to identify project requirements and design constraints.

Working conditions

Civil drafters typically work in an office environment, although some may occasionally visit construction sites or work outdoors to gather data or verify design specifications. They may work independently or as part of a drafting team, and may collaborate closely with engineers, architects, and construction personnel. Civil drafters may work full-time or part-time, depending on the needs of the employer and the scope of the project. Overtime and weekend work may be required to meet project deadlines.

Minimum qualifications

To become a civil drafter, one typically needs an associate’s degree in drafting or a related field, as well as training in computer-aided design (CAD) software. Some civil drafters may also have a background in civil engineering or architecture. Certification from a professional organization, such as the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), may be preferred by some employers.

Civil drafters must have strong technical and analytical skills, attention to detail, and the ability to work collaboratively with others. Strong communication skills are also essential, as civil drafters often need to communicate complex technical information to non-technical stakeholders.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Civil drafter is a Skill level 3 occupation.

Civil drafter career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to civil drafter.

product development engineering drafter
rolling stock engineering drafter
architectural drafter
heating, ventilation, air conditioning (and refrigeration) drafter
automotive engineering drafter

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of civil drafter. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of civil drafter with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

acoustical engineer
automotive designer
transport engineer
interior architect
land surveyor

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of civil drafter.

  • Engineering principles: The engineering elements like functionality, replicability, and costs in relation to the design and how they are applied in the completion of engineering projects.
  • Design drawings: Understand design drawings detailing the design of products, tools, and engineering systems.
  • Mathematics: Mathematics is the study of topics such as quantity, structure, space, and change. It involves the identification of patterns and formulating new conjectures based on them. Mathematicians strive to prove the truth or falsity of these conjectures. There are many fields of mathematics, some of which are widely used for practical applications.
  • Technical drawings: Drawing software and the various symbols, perspectives, units of measurement, notation systems, visual styles and page layouts used in technical drawings.
  • Engineering processes: The systematic approach to the development and maintenance of engineering systems.
  • Civil engineering: The engineering discipline that studies the design, construction and maintenance of naturally built works such as roads, buildings, and canals.
  • CAD software: The computer-aided design (CAD) software for creating, modifying, analysing or optimising a design.
  • Manual draughting techniques: Techniques used for creating detailed drawings of designs by using specialised pencils, rulers, templates and scales.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of civil drafter.

  • Use manual draughting techniques: Use non-computerised draughting techniques to make detailed drawings of designs by hand with specialised tools such as pencils, rulers and templates.
  • Use technical drawing software: Create technical designs and technical drawings using specialised software.
  • Use CADD software: Use computer-aided design and drafting software to make detailed drawings and blueprints of designs.
  • Create technical plans: Create detailed technical plans of machinery, equipment, tools and other products.
  • Read engineering drawings: Read the technical drawings of a product made by the engineer in order to suggest improvements, make models of the product or operate it.
  • Use CAD software: Use computer-aided design (CAD) systems to assist in the creation, modification, analysis, or optimisation of a design.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of civil drafter. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Cartography: The study of interpreting the elements depicted in maps, the measures and technical specifications.
  • Design principles: The elements used in design such as unity, scale, proportion, balance, symmetry, space, form, texture, colour, light, shade and congruence and their application into practice.
  • Building codes: The set of guidelines that determine the minimum standards for buildings and other constructions in order to protect public health and safety.
  • Aesthetics: Set of principles based on which something is appealing and beautiful.
  • Zoning codes: The division of land into zones where various uses and activities are allowed, such as residential, agricultural, and industrial activities. These zones are regulated by legislative procedures and local authorities.
  • Topography: Graphic representation of the surface features of a place or region on a map indicating their relative positions and elevations.
  • Architecture regulations: The regulations, statutes, and legal agreements existing in the European Union in the field of architecture.
  • 3D modelling: The process of developing a mathematical representation of any three-dimensional surface of an object via specialised software. The product is called a 3D model. It can be displayed as a two-dimensional image through a process called 3D rendering or used in a computer simulation of physical phenomena. The model can also be physically created using 3D printing devices.
  • Construction methods: The various techniques and methods for erecting buildings and other constructions.
  • Mechanics: Theoretical and practical applications of the science studying the action of displacements and forces on physical bodies to the development of machinery and mechanical devices.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of civil drafter. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Design transportation systems: Outline and design airports, public transport systems and highways in order to assess how to move people and goods in a safe and efficient manner.
  • Communicate with construction crews: Exchange information with the construction crews or supervisors to ensure smooth progress of the construction project. Obtain updates on the progress and any obstacles, and inform the crews of any changes in the schedule or procedures.
  • Conduct land surveys: Conduct surveys to determine the location and features of natural and man-made structures, on surface level as well as underground and underwater. Operate electronic distance-measuring equipment and digital measuring instruments.
  • Use geographic information systems: Work with computer data systems such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
  • Make architectural mock-ups: Make a scale model that represents the vision and specifications of the construction project to allow the design team to review details such as colour and materials selection, and to show and discuss the project with the customers.
  • Apply digital mapping: Make maps by formatting compiled data into a virtual image that gives a precise representation of a specific area.
  • Draft design specifications: List the design specifications such as materials and parts to be used and a cost estimate.
  • Operate surveying instruments: Operate and adjust measuring instruments such as theodolites and prisms, and other electronic distance-measuring tools.
  • Create architectural sketches: Create architectural sketches for the design and detail specifications of interiors and exteriors to scale.
  • Draw blueprints: Draw layout specifications for machinery, equipment and building structures. Specify which materials should be used and the size of the components. Show different angles and views of the product.
  • Liaise with engineers: Collaborate with engineers to ensure common understanding and discuss product design, development and improvement.
  • Estimate cost of building materials: Estimate the total cost of building materials required, take into account tendering procedures.
  • Advise architects: Give advice on design, safety issues, and cost reduction to architects during the pre-application phase.
  • Render 3D images: Use specialised tools to convert 3D wire frame models into 2D images with 3D photorealistic effects or non-photorealistic rendering on a computer.
  • Create cadastral maps: Create maps using data gathered during surveying and measurement activities and specialised software which outline a region’s constructions’ and buildings’ boundaries.

ISCO group and title

3118 – Draughtspersons

  1. Civil drafter – ESCO
  2. Civil Drafter Job Description – JobHero
  3. Why Career Opportunities in Civil Drafting are Rewarding? – Digital School
Last updated on May 8, 2023