To work as a drafter, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- have an associate degree.
Education after high school
Many drafters have an associate degree in drafting. Many public and private schools offer drafting programs. However, the kind and quality of these programs varies greatly. Carefully select your program. Check with employers to see which schools they prefer. In addition, ask the schools for the names of employers where they have placed graduates. Also, make sure the school has the type of training you want, up-to-date equipment and software, and qualified instructors.
The drafting programs at technical schools are similar to those at community colleges. Both programs are intensive and focus on drafting. However, the programs at technical schools generally have less course work in theory and liberal arts. Also, the courses may not transfer to four-year colleges. Programs typically last about two years.
Working in jobs that require mechanical ability is good background for this occupation. For instance, you could work with a framing crew. On the job you would get experience working with drawings, building materials, and construction methods. This experience would help prepare you to become an architectural drafter.
Employers often provide additional training in computer-aided drafting (CAD) software. Rapid changes in CAD software require you to spend time each year learning new techniques and software programs. Training often lasts up to six months.
Some branches of the military train people to be surveying, mapping, and drafting technicians. Training lasts nine to 31 weeks, depending on your specialty. Additional training occurs on the job.