dRAFTING and Virtual Design

About the Job

Drafting and Virtual Designers are the backbone of all careers in engineering and architecture. Using computing software, drafters prepare technical drawings and plans that become templates for constructing a host of buildings and systems.

What You’ll Do

Designers rely on drafting software to lay out plans. They normally receive a rough sketch or hand-drawn layout of a project that they need to convert into a computerized model. Designers with more experience may also add certain details and information that they know is helpful. Once an initial layout has been created, a designer creates multiple versions of the layout with different requirements for the architects and engineers to review. Designers also ensure that all dimensions, materials, and procedures for projects are detailed in the plans.

 Most designers use computer-aided design and drafting systems to create and store technical data. These systems normally have more detailed information, including materials and dimensions. These drawings can then be shared electronically or printed. Increasingly common are programs involving building information modeling, which creates 3-D modeling using layers so that an entire building can be visualized. This technology allows for better collaboration among personnel and shows unexpected problems before they are built. Product data management systems that track and manage data help mechanical drafters by allowing them to create drawings as work is completed by other professionals working on the project. 

The following are examples of types of drafters:

Aeronautical drafters draft details used for manufacturing aircrafts and missiles as well as their parts.

Architectural drafters draft architectural and structural buildings for construction projects; they may specialize in specific types of buildings, including residential and commercial ones. 

Civil drafters create topographical maps used in major construction projects.

Electrical drafters draft wiring diagrams used to install systems.

Electronics drafters draft wiring diagrams used for electronic devices such as circuit boards.

Mechanical drafters prepare drawings for mechanical devices and machinery; they may also create 3-D models.

Process piping or pipeline drafters create plans used for pipelines, oil fields, and chemical plant systems.

Qualities and Skills Needed

Critical-thinking skills 

Detail oriented 

Interpersonal skills

Math skills

Technical skills

Time-management skills

Education Required

Most designers receive a postsecondary degree from a 2-year college or technical school. 

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Wages

The average starting salary is $37,806. With experience, they can possibly earn up to or over $60,139.

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