Salary and Benefits

February 2, 2009

Drafters

Pay: The 2,400 architectural and civil drafters in the Seattle-Bellevue-Tacoma area — the largest subgroup — earned a median wage of $44,860 a year in 2007, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Electrical and electronics drafters earned $56,160; mechanical drafters, $61,190; and all others, $63,410.

The job: Drafters 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. Most drafters use computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) systems. Drafting has many specialties: aeronautical, architectural, civil, electrical, electronics, mechanical and pipeline.

Demand: Drafters can expect slower than average employment growth through 2016, with the best opportunities for those with two years of professional training.

Training: Employers prefer applicants who have completed postsecondary training in drafting, which is offered by technical institutes, community colleges and some four-year colleges and universities. The kind and quality of programs vary considerably, so prospective students should be careful.

Certification: The American Design Drafting Association has established a certification program for drafters, although employers usually do not require it.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: www.stats.bls.gov/oco

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