Drafters prepare and create technical drawings using a special software or manual techniques, to show how something is built or works. They work closely with engineers, architects, and other professionals to convert their designs and ideas into detailed plans that can be used for construction or manufacturing.
Drafters typically do the following duties:
- Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create technical drawings and plans
- Collaborate with engineers, architects, and other professionals to ensure that designs are accurate and meet specifications
- Make modifications to existing designs as needed
- Create and maintain a library of technical drawings and plans
- Ensure that drawings comply with industry and government standards
- Communicate with clients and team members to ensure that all project requirements are met
- Review and revise drawings as necessary based on feedback from clients and team members
The following job titles also refer to drafter:
computer aided design draughter
Drafter typically work in an office setting, although they may also spend time in the field visiting job sites. They may work independently or as part of a team. Drafters may be required to work extended hours to meet project deadlines.
To become a drafter, a high school diploma or equivalent is typically required, followed by specialized training in drafting or CAD. Many community colleges and technical schools offer programs in drafting and design. Some employers may prefer to hire candidates with an associate’s degree in drafting or a related field. Strong computer skills, attention to detail, and the ability to communicate effectively are important for success in this field. On-the-job training may also be provided.
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.
Drafter is a Skill level 3 occupation.
Drafter career path
These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to drafter.
Long term prospects
These occupations require some skills and knowledge of drafter. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of drafter with a significant experience and/or extensive training.
Essential knowledge and skills
This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of drafter.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Create technical plans: Create detailed technical plans of machinery, equipment, tools and other products.
- 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
This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of drafter. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Circuit diagrams: Read and comprehend circuit diagrams showing the connections between the devices, such as power and signal connections.
- Refrigerants: The characteristics and properties of the different fluids used in heat pump and refrigeration cycles.
- Electronic equipment standards: The national and international quality and safety standards and regulations with regards to the use and manufacture of electronic equipment and its components, such as semiconductors and printed circuit boards.
- Electricity principles: Electricity is created when electric current flows along a conductor. It entails the movement of free electrons between atoms. The more free electrons are present in a material, the better this material conducts. The three main parameters of electricity are the voltage, current (ampère), and resistance (ohm).
- Construction legal systems: The different legal systems and regulations governing construction activities across Europe.
- 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.
- Material mechanics: The behaviour of solid objects when subjected to stresses and strains, and the methods to calculate these stresses and strains.
- Electrical equipment regulations: The national and international regulations with regards to the use and manufacture of electrical equipment on the workfloor. These regulations provide rules and guidelines on topics such as general risk management, electrical equipment manufacture, electrical equipment testing, electrical equipment installation, warning labels, and certificates.
- Integrated circuits: Electronic components, made up from a set of electronic circuits which are placed on semiconductor material, such as silicon. Integrated circuits (IC) can hold billions of electronic components on a microscale and are one of basic components of electronic devices.
- Electromechanics: The engineering processes that combine electrical and mechanical engineering in the application of electromechanics in devices that need electricity to create mechanical movement or devices that create electricity by mechanical movement.
- Cartography: The study of interpreting the elements depicted in maps, the measures and technical specifications.
- Electric motors: Motors which are able to convert electrical energy into mechanical energy.
- Mechanics of vessels: The mechanics involved in boats and ships. Understand the technicalities and participate in discussions over related topics in order to solve problems related to the mechanics.
- Manufacturing processes: The steps required through which a material is transformed into a product, its development and full-scale manufacturing.
- CADD software: The computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) is the use of computer technology for design and design documentation. CAD software replaces manual drafting with an automated process.
- Electrical engineering: Understand electrical engineering, a field of engineering that deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.
- 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.
- Types of electronics: The different categories of electronics, such as consumer electronics, medical devices, microelectronics, computers, information and communication equipment, and measuring equipment.
- Aircraft mechanics: Technicalities over mechanics in aircrafts and related topics in order to perform a wide range of repairs in aircrafts.
- Ventilation systems: The types of mechanical ventilation systems that permits the exchange and circulation of air.
- Principles of mechanical engineering: Understand principles of mechanical engineering, physics, and materials science.
- Building codes: The set of guidelines that determine the minimum standards for buildings and other constructions in order to protect public health and safety.
- Physics: The natural science involving the study of matter, motion, energy, force and related notions.
- Printed circuit boards: Printed circuit boards (PCB) are essential components to almost all electronic devices. They consist of thin wafers or substrates on which electronic components, such as microchips, are placed. The electronic components are electrically connected through conductive tracks and pads.
- Consumer electronics: The functioning of electronic consumer goods such as TVs, radios, cameras and other audio and video equipment.
- Aesthetics: Set of principles based on which something is appealing and beautiful.
- Engineering processes: The systematic approach to the development and maintenance of engineering systems.
- Mechanics of motor vehicles: The way energy forces interact and affect components in motor vehicles such as cars, buses, invalid carriages and other motorised vehicles.
- 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.
- Stealth technology: The techniques used to make aircraft, ships, missiles and satellites less detectable to radars and sonars. This includes the design of particular shapes and the development of radar-absorbent material.
- Topography: Graphic representation of the surface features of a place or region on a map indicating their relative positions and elevations.
- CAE software: The software to perform computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis tasks such as Finite Element Analysis and Computional Fluid Dynamics.
- Civil engineering: The engineering discipline that studies the design, construction and maintenance of naturally built works such as roads, buildings, and canals.
- Thermodynamics: The branch of physics that deals with the relationships between heat and other forms of energy..
- Power electronics: The functioning, design, and usage of electronics that control and convert electric power. Power conversion systems are usually categorised as AC-DC or rectifiers, DC-AC or inverters, DC-DC converters, and AC-AC converters.
- Fluid mechanics: The characteristics and properties of fluids, including gases, liquids and plasmas, at rest and in motion, and the forces on them.
- Architecture regulations: The regulations, statutes, and legal agreements existing in the European Union in the field of architecture.
- Electronic components: Devices and components that can be found in electronic systems. These devices can range from simple components such as amplifiers and oscillators, to more complex integrated packages, such as integrated circuits and printed circuit boards.
- Domestic heating systems: The modern and traditional heating systems alimented by gas, wood, oil, biomass, solar power and other renewable energy sources and their energy saving principles.
- Electronics: The functioning of electronic circuit boards, processors, chips, and computer hardware and software, including programming and applications. Apply this knowledge to ensure electronic equipment runs smoothly.
- 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.
- Mechanical engineering: Discipline that applies principles of physics, engineering and materials science to design, analyse, manufacture and maintain mechanical systems.
- ICT software specifications: The characteristics, use and operations of various software products such as computer programmes and application software.
- Industrial engineering: The field of engineering concerned with the development, improvement, and implementation of complex processes and systems of knowledge, people, equipment, etc.
- Unmanned air systems: The systems used to remotely control unmanned aerial vehicles by onboard computers or by a pilot on the ground or in the air.
- Multimedia systems: The methods, procedures and techniques pertaining to the operation of multimedia systems, usually a combination of software and hardware, presenting various types of media such as video and audio.
- Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration parts: The different parts constituing heating, air conditioning and refrigeration systems such as the different valves, fans, compressors, condensers, filters and other components.
- Mechanics of trains: Possess basic knowledge of the mechanics involved in trains, understand the technicalities and participate in discussions on related topics in order to solve problems related to the mechanics.
- Guidance, navigation and control: The engineering discipline that deals with the design and development of systems that can control the motion of automobiles, ships, space- and aircraft. It includes control over vehicle’s trajectory from its present location to a designated target and vehicle’s speed and altitude.
- Components of air conditioning systems: Know the different components that constitute air conditioning systems such as condensers, compressors, evaporators and sensors. Identify and repair/replace malfunctioning components.
- Electric drives: Electromechanical systems that utilise electric motors to control the movement and processes of electrical machinery.
- Industrial heating systems: Heating systems fueled by gas, wood, oil, biomass, solar power, and other renewable energy sources and their energy saving principles, applicable specifically to industrial buildings and facilities.
- Defense system: The various weapons and weapon systems used to protect citizens and to harm or shield incoming enemies and enemy weapons.
- Electricity: Understand the principles of electricity and electrical power circuits, as well as the associated risks.
- Electric generators: The principles and operations of devices that can convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, such as dynamos and alternators, rotors, stators, armatures, and fields.
- Construction methods: The various techniques and methods for erecting buildings and other constructions.
- Blueprints: Must be able to read and understand blueprints, drawings and plans and maintain simple written records.
- Common aviation safety regulations: The body of legislation and regulations that apply to the field of civil aviation at regional, national, European and International levels. Understand that regulations aimed at protecting citizens at all times in civil aviation; ensure that operators, citizens, and organisations comply with these rules.
- Mechatronics: Multidisciplinary field of engineering that combines principles of electrical engineering, telecommunications engineering, control engineering, computer engineering, and mechanical engineering in the design of products and manufacturing processes. The combination of these areas of engineering allows for the design and development of “smart” devices and the achievement of an optimal balance between mechanical structure and control.
- Product data management: The use of software to track all information concerning a product such as technical specifications, drawings, design specifications, and production costs.
- Electrical equipment components: The essential components of a certain electrical product, such as electrical wires, circuit breakers, and switches.
- Electrical wiring diagrams: The visual schematic representation of an electrical circuit, its components, and the connections between these components.
- 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.
- Electrical machines: Electrical apparatus that are able to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy (generators), electrical energy to mechanical energy (motors), and change the voltage level of an AC or alternating current (transformers).
- Synthetic natural environment: The simulation and representation of components of physical world such as climate, wheather and space where military systems exist in order to obtain information and perform tests.
Optional skills and competences
These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of drafter. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.
- Control compliance of railway vehicles regulations: Inspect rolling stock, components and systems to ensure compliance with standards and specifications.
- Advise on construction materials: Provide advice on and test a wide range of construction materials.
- Create solutions to problems: Solve problems which arise in planning, prioritising, organising, directing/facilitating action and evaluating performance. Use systematic processes of collecting, analysing, and synthesising information to evaluate current practice and generate new understandings about practice.
- Provide technical documentation: Prepare documentation for existing and upcoming products or services, describing their functionality and composition in such a way that it is understandable for a wide audience without technical background and compliant with defined requirements and standards. Keep documentation up to date.
- Design electrical systems: Draft sketches and design electrical systems, products, and components using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and equipment. Draw panel arrangement layouts, electrical schematics, electrical wiring diagrams, and other assembly details.
- Calculate materials: Determine the amount and the kind of materials necessary to build certain machines or equipment.
- Process customer requests based on the REACh regulation 1907 2006: Reply to private consumer requests according to REACh Regulation 1907/2006 whereby chemical Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) should be minimal. Advise customers on how to proceed and protect themselves if the presence of SVHC is higher than expected.
- Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
- 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.
- Create electrical wiring diagram: Draw the details of electrical circuits in order to aid construction workers with the erection and installment of electrical wiring in building structures.
- Customise drafts: Edit drawings, schematic diagrams, and drafts according to specifications.
- Check architectural drawings on site: Ensure that the drawings of the architectural project reflect the reality by visiting the construction sites and implementing adjustments.
- Execute analytical mathematical calculations: Apply mathematical methods and make use of calculation technologies in order to perform analyses and devise solutions to specific problems.
- 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.
- Advise on building matters: Provide advice on building matters to the various parties involved in construction projects. Bring to their awareness important building considerations and consult on construction budgets.
- Use computer-aided engineering systems: Use computer-aided engineering software to conduct stress analyses on engineering designs.
- Adjust engineering designs: Adjust designs of products or parts of products so that they meet requirements.
- Use geographic information systems: Work with computer data systems such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
- Provide cost benefit analysis reports: Prepare, compile and communicate reports with broken down cost analysis on the proposal and budget plans of the company. Analyse the financial or social costs and benefits of a project or investment in advance over a given period of time.
- Manage tender processes: Organise the process of writing and designing proposals or bids for tenders.
- Meet building regulations: Communicate with construction inspection, e.g. by submitting schemes and plans, to make sure all construction regulations, laws and codes are dealt with correctly.
- Create a product’s virtual model: Create a mathematical or three-dimensional computer graphic model of the product by using a CAE system or a calculator.
- Use CADD software: Use computer-aided design and drafting software to make detailed drawings and blueprints of designs.
- Archive documentation related to the work: Select relevant documentation related to the ongoing or complete work and take steps to archive it in a way that ensures its future accessibility.
- Read standard blueprints: Read and comprehend standard blueprints, machine, and process drawings.
- Build a product’s physical model: Build a model of the product out of wood, clay or other materials by using hand or electrical tools.
- Design circuit boards: Draught circuit boards used in electronic product such as cell phones and computers, make sure to include integrated circuits and microchips in the design.
- 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.
- Model electromechanical systems: Model and simulate an electromechanical system, product, or component so that an assessment can be made of the viability of the product and so the physical parameters can be examined before the actual building of the product.
- Advise client on technical possibilities: Recommend technical solutions, including systems, to the client within the framework of a project.
- Plan manufacturing processes: Determine and schedule production and assembly steps. Plan manpower and equipment needs taking ergonomic considerations into account.
- Prepare construction documents: Draft, update and archive documents concerning the planning and implementation of construction or renovation projects including information about security systems and accounting documentation.
- Communicate test results to other departments: Communicate testing information such as testing schedules, samples testing statistics and test results, to the relevant departments.
- Design microelectronics: Design and develop microelectronic systems, products, and components according to specifications, such as microchips.
- Maintain mechanical equipment: Observe and listen to machinery operation to detect malfunction. Service, repair, adjust, and test machines, parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical principles. Maintain and repair vehicles meant for cargo, passengers, farming and landscaping.
- Advise on architectural matters: Provide advice on architectural design, based on knowledge of matters such as spatial division, balance of construction elements, and aesthetics.
- Apply digital mapping: Make maps by formatting compiled data into a virtual image that gives a precise representation of a specific area.
- Ensure vessel compliance with regulations: Inspect vessels, vessel components, and equipment; ensure compliance with standards and specifications.
- Draft design specifications: List the design specifications such as materials and parts to be used and a cost estimate.
- Prepare building permit applications: Fill in the forms and prepare any additional documentation needed to file an application to receive the construction permit required for erecting, renovating, and modifying buildings.
- Develop a specific interior design: Develop a conceptual interior design fitting the global mood the room(s) must convey, according to the quality standards agreed on. Adhere to the order of a client for a domestic area or to the concept of an artistic production, such as a movie or a theatre play.
- Draft bill of materials: Set up a list of materials, components, and assemblies as well as the quantities needed to manufacture a certain product.
- Operate surveying instruments: Operate and adjust measuring instruments such as theodolites and prisms, and other electronic distance-measuring tools.
- 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.
- Estimate budget for interior design plans: Estimate the budget for interior design plans. Keep track of total costs and material requirements.
- Use measurement instruments: Use different measurement instruments depending on the property to be measured. Utilise various instruments to measure length, area, volume, speed, energy, force, and others.
- Design prototypes: Design prototypes of products or components of products by applying design and engineering principles.
- Create architectural sketches: Create architectural sketches for the design and detail specifications of interiors and exteriors to scale.
- Design hardware: Design and develop new computer hardware systems and components. Draft blueprints and assembly drawings specifying how the computer equipment should be build.
- 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.
- Abide by regulations on banned materials: Comply with regulations banning heavy metals in solder, flame retardants in plastics, and phthalate plasticisers in plastics and wiring harness insulations, under EU RoHS/WEEE Directives and China RoHS legislation.
- Review drafts: Proofread and give feedback to technical drawings or drafts.
- Apply technical communication skills: Explain technical details to non-technical customers, stakeholders, or any other interested parties in a clear and concise manner.
- Design electromechanical systems: Draft sketches and design electromechanical systems, products, and components using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and equipment.
- Liaise with engineers: Collaborate with engineers to ensure common understanding and discuss product design, development and improvement.
- Keep records of work progress: Maintain records of the progress of the work including time, defects, malfunctions, etc.
- Estimate cost of building materials: Estimate the total cost of building materials required, take into account tendering procedures.
- Develop assembly instructions: Develop a code of letters and numbers to label diagrams for assembly instructions.
- Advise architects: Give advice on design, safety issues, and cost reduction to architects during the pre-application phase.
- Ensure material compliance: Ensure that the materials provided by suppliers comply with the specified requirements.
- Train employees: Lead and guide employees through a process in which they are taught the necessary skills for the perspective job. Organise activities aimed at introducing the work and systems or improving the performance of individuals and groups in organisational settings.
- 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.
- Integrate engineering principles in architectural design: Integrate engineering principles in architectural design under the guidance of engineers from different fields. Integrate electrical, civil, etc. engineering in architectural drafting.
- 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.
- Prepare assembly drawings: Create the drawings that identify the different components and materials, and that provide instructions as to how they should be assembled.
- Model electrical system: Model and simulate an electrical system, product, or component so that an assessment can be made of the viability of the product and so the physical parameters can be examined before the actual building of the product.
- Draw design sketches: Create rough pictures to assist in creating and communicating design concepts.
- Design sensors: Design and develop different types of sensors according to specifications, such as vibration sensors, heat sensors, optical sensors, humidity sensors, and electric current sensors.
- Interpret electrical diagrams: Read and comprehend blueprints and electrical diagrams; understand technical instructions and engineering manuals for assembling electrical equipment; understand electricity theory and electronic components.
- Design electronic systems: Draft sketches and design electronic systems, products, and components using Computer Aided Design (CAD) software and equipment. Make a simulation so that an assessment can be made of the viability of the product and so the physical parameters can be examined before the actual building of the product.
- Coordinate construction activities: Coordinate the activities of several construction workers or crews to make sure they do not interfere with each other and to ensure that the works are done in a timely manner. Keep up to date on the progress of the teams and update the schedule if called for.
ISCO group and title
3118 – Draughtspersons
- Drafter – ESCO
- Drafters : Occupational Outlook Handbook – U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
- Featured image: Photo by cottonbro studio from Pexels