College Major Spotlight: Drafting Degree
What is a drafting degree?
A drafting degree allows you to prepare technical drawings and plans which are used to build everything from manufactured products such as toys, toasters, industrial machinery, and spacecraft to structures such as houses, office buildings, and oil and gas pipelines.
What do people with a drafting degree do?
People with a drafting degree provide visual guidelines and show how to construct a product or structure. Drawings include technical details and specify dimensions, materials, and procedures. Drafters fill in technical details using drawings, rough sketches, specifications, and calculations made by engineers, surveyors, architects, or scientists. For example, people with a drafting degree use their knowledge of standardized building techniques to draw in the details of a structure. Some use their understanding of engineering and manufacturing theory and standards to draw the parts of a machine; they determine design elements, such as the numbers and kinds of fasteners needed to assemble the machine. Drafters use technical handbooks, tables, calculators, and computers to complete their work.
Future prospects for those with a drafting degree:
Employment for those with a drafting degree is expected to grow by 6 percent between 2006 and 2016. Industrial growth and increasingly complex design problems associated with new products and manufacturing processes will increase the demand for drafting services. Furthermore, those with a drafting degree are beginning to break out of the traditional drafting role and do work traditionally performed by engineers and architects, also increasing in demand.
Although growth is expected to be greatest for mechanical, architectural, and civil drafters, demand for particular drafting specialties varies throughout the country because employment usually is contingent on the needs of local industry.
Average salaries for someone with a drafting degree:
Earnings for those with a drafting degree vary by specialty, location, and level of responsibility. Median annual earnings of architectural and civil drafters were $41,960 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $33,550 and $52,220. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $27,010, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $63,310.
Median annual earnings of mechanical drafters were $43,700 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $34,680 and $55,130. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $28,230, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $67,860. Median annual earnings for mechanical drafters in architectural, engineering, and related services were $44,120.
Median annual earnings of electrical and electronics drafters were $46,830 in May 2006. The middle 50 percent earned between $36,660 and $60,160. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $29,290, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $74,490. In architectural, engineering, and related services, median annual earnings for electrical and electronics drafters were $44,140.
What should you consider when thinking about a drafting degree?
The kind and quality of drafting degree training programs vary considerably so prospective students should be careful in selecting a drafting degree program. They should contact prospective employers to ask which schools they prefer and contact schools to ask for information about the kinds of jobs their graduates have, the type and condition of instructional facilities and equipment, and teacher qualifications. Courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and, where available, drafting are useful for people considering a drafting career. Employers prefer applicants who have also completed a drafting degree at a technical institute, community college, or 4-year college or university.
Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2009 -http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos111.htm