Changing technologies have tended to reduce the demand for drafting technicians. Computer-aided drawing is enhancing professional productivity, and the many young engineers who are proficient in computer-aided design (CAD) cuts down on the need for their services. In this context, it is important for drafting technicians to continually stay current with new technologies.
Drafting technicians generally work for engineers and design technologists and develop plans in accordance with project specifications. They may be employed by consulting and architecture firms, manufacturing (aerospace, automobile, rail) and utility companies, and any other type of establishment. Due to the wide variety of fields, drafting technicians must demonstrate great versatility, adaptability, and a particular aptitude for math.
The role of drafting technicians involves the following tasks:
- Study various work documents (e.g. sketches, data, specification sheets, engineering calculations)
- Develop plans, drawings, diagrams and models in accordance with effective specifications, norms and techniques
- Participate in developing specification sheets and estimating materials
- Coordinate current projects (workshop, design office, jobsite)
- Write technical documentation
- Participate in design meetings
Drafting technicians require a college diploma (DEC in Quebec) in civil engineering, technical drawing, building or related fields.
- Familiarity with use of measuring tools (laser meters, rulers, levels)
- Knowledge of computer-assisted design (CAD) and its features: database searches, proficiency in the use of calculation, simulation, and graphic design software
- Knowledge of civil engineering and urban planning
- Basic jobsite follow-up (e.g. coordination of players, organization, checking of invoices, writing of reports)
- Familiarity with Microsoft Office
- Organizational skills
- Teamwork skills
- Excellent oral and written communication skills
Salaries vary widely depending on the province. On average, drafting technicians just starting out earn about $20 an hour ($39,000). After several years of experience, they can make in the neighbourhood of $48,000. Professionals with a bachelor’s degree generally make more ($45 to 55,000).
Once they have acquired a significant amount of experience, drafting technicians can become project managers or head up a design office. They can also choose to specialize in a particular field (e.g. civil or mechanical engineering) via appropriate courses.