Career Tips: How To Become A Draftsman

For those considering becoming draftsmen, here is a description of study requirements and job details.

For people looking to combine artistic talent and math skills in a career, becoming a draftsman is an ideal choice. With a foundation of drafting education, specializations in architecture, electronic design, and various other fields can be obtained. Not only can this job offer a creative outlet, but it can also provide an impressive income. Draftsmen can find an employment with a company or start their own business once they have obtained a degree. With all of the opportunities for advancement in this career, it is worth considering for anyone who is looking for a practical way to apply their creative side.

What is a Draftsman?

A draftsman's job is to turn a design idea into an accurate picture, whether it is a scaled-down floor plan for a building or a diagram for a machine. The drawings that a draftsman creates serve as guides for builders and manufacturers, so precision is necessary. Although blueprints are now considered out-of-date, draftsmen create their modern relatives. Teams of drafters with different specializations work together on projects, sometimes drawing by hand but more often through the use of drafting computer software. To be a draftsman, an ability to see all sides of an object (or 3-D vision) and strong math skills are necessary.

Study Options

In the past, draftsmen obtained career training at technical schools or through community college programs. However, the popularity of computer-based learning has led to distance education drafting courses, which allow students to study at home to obtain a degree of equal quality to on-campus programs. Both options have benefits for certain types of students. For example, a person who prefers the physical presence and immediate feedback of instructors will excel in tech school program. Those who enjoy working independently and have the discipline to devote time to daily study may prefer a home-base degree program. Either way, obtaining a drafting degree is very affordable in comparison to a university education, with distance education classes being cheapest. In both cases, student loans can be taken out for accredited courses.



Degree Requirements

Drafting students begin their degree program by reviewing mathematical concepts, beginning with basics like adding, subtracting, multiplication, division, and fractions. The course then progresses into covering geometry, algebra, and trigonometry. These concepts are fundamental for learning to create accurate diagrams scaled up or down depending on the size of the project. Next, mechanical drawing and freehand lettering are taught. Students learn how to use templates and specialized measuring tools to create plans on paper. Tools studied include compasses, protractors, professional pencils of various widths and shades, drafting paper, and French curves. All work is done on a drafting table, which sits at an angle and has special lighting. A draftsman in training also memorizes various formulas used for manually creating sketches. Once these techniques have been mastered, the student learns how to use a computer aided design (CAD) program. This software is a modern invention designed to save draftsmen time and to create hard copies of drafts. Basic programs take between two and four years, depending on the institution with which a student studies.

Specializations

Having completed the basic drafting program, students can move on to a chosen specialization. Draftsmen interested in designing products to be assembled can become mechanical drafters. They are responsible for creating exact models piece by piece with detailed construction instructions. Architectural draftsmen create floor plans for buildings based on the specifications of builders. They also design highways and railroads before construction begins. Government drawers/drafters create plans for military vehicles and work under strict security clearance. Electronic drafters are responsible for laying out wiring plans for buildings and machines, a job that requires extensive training. Aerospace draftsmen make drawings of airplanes, helicopters, satellites, and even spacecraft. Once a draftsman has studied in their chosen field for several years, they may choose to obtain a Master's degree. Having done so, they can then enter the field of an architect, engineer, or another higher-paying field.

A career as a draftsman offers excellent chances to increase ones pay and skills, depending on how ambitious a person is. The estimated annual income for a general draftsman is $59,000, with an estimated fifteen-percent increase in pay by 2010. With further study to hone job skills, a drafter can reasonably expect to double that amount over the life of the profession. Programs are designed so that any weak areas in math or drawing can be improved, and programs can be done at a student's own pace. Thus, almost any devoted student can master the skills of drafting with time and obtain the skills for a rewarding life-long career.

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