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What are the Different Designer Drafter Jobs?

By Michael Linn
Updated May 17, 2024
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Designer drafter jobs may be the backbone of the engineering field because their core task is to create two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) models. These drawings and models made by the designer drafter are used in many engineering disciplines, including mechanical, civil, electrical and industrial, to build structures, systems and parts. Most of the products people use every day were first drawn by a designer drafter.

Many designer drafter jobs are in product design, and they are needed throughout a product's development process. Designer drafters are required early on to make the drawings used to create initial prototypes. Drawings are also required later in the development cycle to create any tooling needed to manufacture the final product.

There are also designer drafter jobs in civil engineering, which deals with the building of infrastructure. Designer drafters are required to layout the land where such things as drainage ditches and retention ponds are to be located before a building can be constructed. Designer drafter jobs also are needed to create the blueprints for the outer structure of buildings, in addition to critical interior elements such as heating, air conditioning, plumbing and ventilation systems.

Electronic industries have designer drafter jobs, even though their main component is probably the electron. This is because schematics or layouts of the circuit board need to be created so components such as resistors and capacitors can be properly located for optimum performance. Circuit board manufacturers also may need CAD data to program the robots that place the components on the circuit board.

Before the widespread introduction of computers, the main tools of most designer drafter jobs were pencil, paper and drawing triangles. With the advent of less expensive computers and software, designer drafters have nearly all migrated to CAD systems, thereby increasing the speed of drawing creation. Flexibility and accuracy have also increased.

An advantage of computer-based CAD systems is the ability to create models, not just for design, but for analysis. CAD models used for analysis are called finite element analysis (FEA) models. These types of models can be used to examine the effects that factors such as changes in heat and force will have on products and structures.

Most designer drafter jobs require experience to be hired because of the complexity and time needed to use the software efficiently. Despite the difficulties in learning how to create models and drawings, it still may be beneficial to pursue designer drafts jobs because the skills can transfer to other fields besides engineering. One common industry that employs designer drafters is the film industry. Some of the same software used to create physical products is also used for animation and special effects.

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