Detailed Guide forArchitectural and Civil Drafters in California
May also be called: Architectural Drafters; Civil Computer-Aided Design (CAD) Technicians; Civil Drafters; Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) Technicians; CAD Technicians; CAD Operators; Drafting Technicians; Drafting Technologists; Draftsmen; Draftspersons
What Would I Do?
Architectural and Civil Drafters make detailed drawings of architectural and structural features of buildings, foundations, landscapes, and other construction projects. They also produce drawings and topographical relief maps used in civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, and public works. Drafters use knowledge of building materials, engineering practices, and mathematics to complete drawings. They may work from existing drawings or may use rudimentary sketches, notes, or specification sheets.
They draw maps, diagrams, and profiles using cross-sections and surveys to represent elevations, topographical contours, subsurface formations, and structures. Drafters also draw interior room arrangements for residential and commercial projects.
Plans always need approval from clients, upper management, or building inspectors. Blueprints are almost always prepared, listing dimensions and detailing the arrangements of walls, fixtures, and other features of a project. In order to 'sell' the project design, drawings of buildings, landscapes, or interior designs may be made for presentation to clients. Sometimes wooden models or three-dimensional computer representations are made as well.
Drafters may also determine procedures and instructions to be followed according to design specifications and quantity of required materials. They may analyze technical implications of the architect's design concept, calculating weights, volumes, and stress factors. They may also supervise, coordinate, and inspect the work of draftspersons, technicians, and technologists.
Drafters increasingly use computer-aided drafting (CAD) or computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) software to draw plans for various projects. They may also use conventional drafting equipment such as compasses, dividers, and protractors.
Important Tasks and Related Skills
Each task below is matched to a sample skill required to carry out the task.
|View the skill definitions|
|Task||Skill Used in this Task|
|Produce drawings using computer-assisted drafting systems (CAD) or drafting machines, or by hand using compasses, dividers, protractors, triangles and other drafting devices.||Design|
|Supervise, coordinate, and inspect the work of draftspersons, technicians, and technologists on construction projects.||Active Listening|
|Obtain and assemble data to complete architectural designs, visiting job sites to compile measurements as necessary.||Visualization|
|Operate computer-aided drafting (CAD) equipment or conventional drafting station to produce designs, working drawings, charts, forms and records.||Computers and Electronics|
|Correlate, interpret, and modify data obtained from topographical surveys, well logs, and geophysical prospecting reports.||Complex Problem Solving|
|Draw maps, diagrams, and profiles, using cross-sections and surveys, to represent elevations, topographical contours, subsurface formations and structures.||Near Vision|
|Analyze building codes, by-laws, space and site requirements, and other technical documents and reports to determine their effect on architectural designs.||Building and Construction|
Below is a definition for each skill.
|View the tasks to skills list|
|Design||Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.|
|Active Listening||Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.|
|Visualization||The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.|
|Computers and Electronics||Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.|
|Complex Problem Solving||Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.|
|Near Vision||The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).|
|Building and Construction||Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.|
Most Drafters work a standard 40-hour week; a smaller number work part-time. Sometimes, though, they will work longer hours or on weekends to complete rush jobs. Drafters usually work in comfortable offices furnished with fast computers, appropriate software, and other equipment needed to do the job. Sometimes, though, they may visit a job site to take measurements and to better understand the unique conditions that may cause alterations in a design.
They may sit at adjustable drawing boards or drafting tables when doing manual drawing. Today, though, most drafting work is done at computers using specialized software. Because they spend long periods in front of computers doing detailed work, Drafters may be susceptible to eyestrain, back discomfort, and hand and wrist problems. Careful attention to the office environment can avoid most of these potential hazards.
Few Architectural and Civil Drafters are members of labor organizations.
Will This Job Fit Me?
The occupation of Architectural and Civil Drafters will appeal to those who like activities involving practical, hands-on problems and solutions. It will appeal to those who like working independently.
What Wages and Benefits Can I Expect?
The median wage in 2016 for Architectural and Civil Drafters in California is $57,451 annually, or $27.61 hourly. The median is the point at which half of the workers earn more and half earn less.
Benefits offered by employers vary, with large employers generally offering a more comprehensive benefit package. These often include sick leave, vacation, health insurance, and retirement plans.
What is the Job Outlook?
Employment should decline slightly in this occupation over the forecast period. However, the need to replace those retiring or otherwise leaving the occupation will mean that job opportunities for Drafters are good.
Drafters are beginning to do work traditionally performed by engineers and architects, thus slowing job losses for these workers. The increasing use of design software means each Drafter can be more productive, reducing the need for additional workers. In addition, since some drafting work can be done in other locations using the Internet to send CAD/CADD files internationally, the off-shoring of some drafting jobs will also help blunt growth in the occupation.
Opportunities should be best for individuals with at least two years of postsecondary training in a drafting program that provides strong technical skills as well as considerable experience with CAD/CADD systems. Design software has increased the complexity of drafting applications while enhancing the productivity of Drafters. It also has enhanced the nature of drafting by creating more possibilities for design and drafting. As technology advances, employers will look for Drafters with a strong background in fundamental drafting principles, a high level of technical competence, and the ability to apply their knowledge to a broad range of design challenges.
Projections of Employment
In California, the number of Architectural and Civil Drafters is expected to grow slower than average growth rate for all occupations. Jobs for Architectural and Civil Drafters are expected to increase by 1.4 percent, or 200 jobs between 2014 and 2024.
|Estimated Employment and Projected Growth|
Architectural and Civil Drafters
(Estimated Year-Projected Year)
Due to Net
|View Projected Growth for All Areas|
Annual Job Openings
In California, an average of 20 new job openings per year is expected for Architectural and Civil Drafters, plus an additional 170 job openings due to net replacement needs, resulting in a total of 180 job openings.
|Estimated Average Annual Job Openings|
Architectural and Civil Drafters
|Jobs From Growth||Jobs Due to|
|View Data for All Areas|
How Do I Qualify?
Education, Training, and Other Requirements
Employers prefer applicants who have completed training in drafting, offered by technical institutes, community colleges, and some four-year colleges. Employers are most interested in applicants with well-developed drafting and mechanical drawing skills; knowledge of drafting standards, mathematics, science, and engineering technology; and a solid background in CAD/CADD techniques. In addition, communication and problem-solving skills are important.
Courses in engineering, architecture, and mathematics are useful in obtaining a job as a Drafter. Technical training obtained in the Armed Forces also can be applied in civilian drafting jobs.
In general, employers are more likely to hire Drafters who have had experience. Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers.
Early Career Planning
Individuals planning careers in drafting should take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, and computer graphics, as well as any high school drafting courses available. Regional Occupation Programs (ROP) training may be available in drafting. To find an ROP program near you, go to the California Association of Regional Occupational Centers and Programs Web site.
Work Study Programs
Drafting schools may assist students in obtaining work study experience. Part-time or summer employment with a firm in the industry can be valuable in getting the student into a good position.
While there are no requirements for the Drafter to complete continuing education courses, it is important for the Drafter to keep up with technological and other changes in the field.
Licensing and Certification
Architectural and Civil Drafters do not need to be licensed in California.
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) has established a certification program for Drafters. Some employers prefer applicants who are certified.
Certification demonstrates an understanding of nationally recognized practices and standards of knowledge. Individuals who wish to become certified must pass the Drafter Certification Test, which is administered periodically at ADDA-authorized sites. Applicants are tested on their knowledge and understanding of basic drafting concepts, such as geometric construction, working drawings, and architectural terms and standards. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Labor's Career InfoNet Web site and scroll down to "Career Tools." Click on "Certification Finder" and follow the instructions to locate certification programs.
Where Can I Find Training?
There are two ways to search for training information:
- Search by Field of Study to find what programs are available and what schools offer those programs. You may use keywords such as: Drafter; Drafting; Computer-Assisted Design; Computer-Assisted Drafting and Design.
- Search by Training Provider to find schools by name, type of school, or location.
Contact the schools you are interested in to learn about the classes available, tuition and fees, and any prerequisite course work.
Where Would I Work?
The largest industries employing Architectural and Civil Drafters are as follows:
|Industry Title||Percent of Total Employment for Occupation in California|
|Architectural and Engineering Services ||74.2%|
|Building Equipment Contractors ||3.5%|
|Local Government ||3.2%|
|Management & Technical Consulting Svc ||2.1%|
|Nonresidential Building Construction ||2.1%|
Finding a Job
Direct contact with employers is one of the best ways to locate a job in this field. Colleges or technical schools may offer career placement services. Those already working in the industry may recommend an interested candidate for jobs. Newspaper classified ads and the Internet provide additional sources for job listings. Online job opening systems include JobCentral at www.jobcentral.com and CalJOBSSM at www.caljobs.ca.gov.
To find your nearest One-Stop Career Center, go to Service Locator. View the helpful job search tips for more resources. (requires Adobe Reader).
Yellow Page Headings
You can focus your local job search by checking employers listed online or in your local telephone directory. Below are some suggested headings where you might find employers of Architectural and Civil Drafters.
- Building Contractors, Commercial
- Building Contractors, Residential
- Building Designers
- Civil Engineers
- Drafting Services
- Home Design and Planning
- Restaurant Design and Planning
- Store Designers and Planners
Find Possible Employers
To locate a list of employers in your area, go to "Find Employers" on the Labor Market Information Web site:
- Select one of the top industries that employ the occupation. This will give you a list of employers in that industry in your area.
- Click on "View Filter Selections" to limit your list to specific cities or employer size.
- Click on an employer for the street address, telephone number, size of business, Web site, etc.
- Contact the employer for possible employment.
Where Could This Job Lead?
Entry-level or junior Drafters usually do routine work under close supervision. After gaining experience, they may become intermediate Drafters and progress to more difficult work with less supervision. At the intermediate level, they may need to exercise more judgment and perform calculations when preparing and modifying drawings. Drafters may eventually advance to senior Drafter, designer, or supervisor. Many employers pay for additional education, and, with the appropriate college degree, Drafters may go on to become engineering technicians, engineers, or architects.
Below is a list of occupations related to Architectural and Civil Drafters with links to more information.
|Civil Engineering Technicians||Profile|
|Commercial and Industrial Designers||Profile|
|Set and Exhibit Designers||Profile|
|Surveying and Mapping Technicians||Profile|
These links are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement by EDD.
For the Career Professional
The following codes are provided to assist counselors, job placement workers, or other career professionals.