Wednesday 29 Nov 2023
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Drafters are now what was once known as Draftsmen or Draughtsmen.  They prepare technical drawings and plans used by production and construction workers to build everything from manufactured products such as toys, toasters, industrial machinery, and spacecraft to structures such as houses, office buildings, and oil and gas pipelines.   Drafters’ drawings provide visual guidelines; show the technical details of the products and structures; and specify dimensions, materials, and procedures.


Drafters are now what were once known as Draftsmen or Draughtsman.  They prepare technical drawings and plans used by production and construction workers tomanufacture products such as toys, toasters, industrial machinery, spacecraft, structures such as houses, office buildings, and oil and gas pipelines.   Drafters’ drawings provide visual guidelines; show the technical details of the products and structures; and specify dimensions, materials, and procedures.

Drafters provide technical details using drawings, rough sketches, specifications, codes, and calculations previously made by engineers, surveyors, architects, or scientists. For example, drafters use their knowledge of standardized building techniques to draw in the details of a structure. Some use their knowledge of engineering and manufacturing theory and standards to draw the parts of a machine to determine design elements, such as the numbers and kinds of fasteners needed to assemble the machine. Drafters use technical handbooks, tables, calculators, and computers to complete their work.

Traditionally, in years past, drafters sat at drawing boards and used pencils, pens, compasses, protractors, triangles, and other drafting devices to prepare a drawing manually.   Most drafters today now use a CADD/ CAD systems to prepare drawings. CADD is an acronym for Computer Aided/Assisted Drafting and Design, Computer Aided/Assisted Design and Drafting, Computer Aided/Assisted Design or Computer Aided/Assisted Drafting.  Consequently, some drafters may be referred to as CADD or CAD operators.

CADD/CAD systems employ computers to create and store drawings electronically that can then be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems. These systems also permit drafters to quickly prepare variations of a design.  Although drafters now use CADD/CAD extensively, it is only a tool, and does not replace the basic and core knowledge needed for the profession.

Individuals who produce technical drawings with CADD/CAD still function as drafters and need the knowledge of traditional manual drafters, in addition to CADD/CAD skills. Despite the nearly universal use of CADD/CAD systems, manual drafting and sketching are still used in certain applications.

Designers & Technicians

Designers are sometimes referred to as Technicians.  They use the principles and theories of science, engineering, and mathematics to solve technical problems in research and development, manufacturing, sales, construction, inspection, and maintenance.

Their work is more specific in scope and application-oriented than that of scientists and engineers. Many engineering technicians assist engineers and scientists, especially in research and development. Others work in quality control, inspecting products and processes, conducting tests, or collecting data. In manufacturing, they may assist in product design, development, or production.

1.      Architectural Designers and Technicians or AEC Technicians work in the Architectural or Architectural Engineering Construction Fields and generally their work can span the entire design-build processes.   Their work could include creating floor plans, site drawings, architectural renderings, models, construction details and consulting will all subcontractors of the construction industry.

Architectural Technicians may be required to work hand-in-hand with Architects, Engineers, Surveyors and the owner in the creation and construction process.   They also may be required to do estimations, create schedules and specifications related to thier positions and have a wide knowldedge of BIM, Codes and Standards realted to thier area of expertise.

2.       Engineering Designers and Technicians who work in research and development, build or set up equipment; prepare and conduct experiments; collect data; calculate or record results; and help engineers or scientists in other ways, such as making prototype versions of newly designed equipment. They also assist in design work, using the CADD/CAD system utilized by the Drafters and Designers.

Most Engineering Technicians specialize, by working in the same disciplines as engineers. Occupational titles, therefore, tend to reflect engineering specialties. Some schools offer branches of Engineering Technology for which there are accredited programs of study, in which an associate’s or bachelor’s degree may be acquired.

4.       Aerospace Engineering Designers and Operations Technicians construct, test, and maintain aircraft and space vehicles. They may calibrate test equipment and determine causes of equipment malfunctions. Using computer and communications systems, Aerospace Engineering and Operations Technicians often record and interpret test data.

5.       Civil Engineering Designers and Technicians help Civil Engineers plan and build highways, buildings, bridges, dams, wastewater treatment systems, and other structures, as well as do related research. Some estimate construction costs and specify materials to be used, and some may even prepare drawings or perform land-surveying duties. Others may set up and monitor instruments used to study traffic conditions. (Cost estimators; drafters; and surveyors, cartographers, photogrammetrists, and surveying technicians are specialized areas of this specific field.

6.       Electrical and Electronic Designers and Engineering Technicians help design, develop, test, and manufacture electrical and electronic equipment such as communication equipment; radar, industrial, and medical monitoring or control devices; navigational equipment; and computers. They may work in product evaluation and testing, using measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment.

7.       Electromechanical Engineering Designers and Technicians combine fundamental principles of mechanical engineering technology with knowledge of electrical and electronic circuits to design, develop, test, and manufacture electrical and computer-controlled mechanical systems. Their work often overlaps that of both electrical and Electronic Engineering Technicians and Mechanical Engineering Technicians.

8.       Environmental Engineering Designers and Technicians work closely with Environmental Engineers and scientists in developing methods and devices used in the prevention, control, or correction of environmental hazards. They inspect and maintain equipment related to air pollution and recycling. Some inspect water and wastewater treatment systems to ensure that pollution control requirements are met.

9.       Industrial Engineering Designers and Technicians study the efficient use of personnel, materials, and machines in factories, stores, repair shops, and offices. They prepare layouts of machinery and equipment, plan the flow of work, make statistical studies, and analyze production costs.

10.     Mechanical Engineering Designers or Technicians help engineers design, develop, test, and manufacture industrial machinery, consumer products, and other equipment. They may assist in product tests—for example, by setting up instrumentation for auto crash tests. They may make sketches and rough layouts, record and analyze data, make calculations and estimates, and report on their findings. When planning production, Mechanical Engineering Technicians prepare layouts and drawings of the assembly process and of parts to be manufactured. They estimate labor costs, equipment life, and plant space. Some test and inspect machines and equipment or work with engineers to eliminate production problems.

Digital Technicians & Graphic Designers

Digital Techniciansare sometimes still referred to as Graphic Designers or Graphic Artists.  These individuals plan, analyze, and create visual solutions to communications problems. They decide the most effective way of getting a message across in print, electronic, and other media using a variety of methods such as color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and various print and layout techniques.

Graphic Designers develop the overall layout and production design of product specifications, magazines, journals, corporate reports, and many other publications. They also produce promotional displays, packaging, and marketing brochures for products and services, design distinctive logos for products and businesses, and develop signs and signage systems—called environmental graphics—for business and government.  An increasing number of Graphic Designers also are developing material for Internet Web pages, interactive media, and multimedia projects. Graphic Designers also may produce the credits that appear before and after television programs and movies.

Graphic Designers prepare sketches or layouts—by hand or with the aid of a computer—to illustrate the vision for the design. They select colors, sound, artwork, photography, animation, style of type, and other visual elements for the design. Designers also select the size and arrangement of the different elements on the page or screen. They also may create graphs and charts from data for use in publications, and often consult with copywriters on any text that may accompany the visual part of the design. Designers then present the completed design to their clients or art or creative director for approval. In printing and publishing firms, graphic designers also may assist the printers by selecting the type of paper and ink for the publication and reviewing the mock-up design for errors before final publication.


Graphic Designers use a variety of graphics and layout computer software to assist in their designs. Designers creating Web pages or other interactive media designs also will use computer animation and programming packages. Computer software programs allow ease and flexibility in exploring a greater number of design alternatives, thus reducing design costs and cutting the time it takes to deliver a product to market.

Graphic Designers sometimes supervise assistants who carry out their creations. Designers who run their own businesses also may devote a considerable amount of time to developing new business contacts, examining equipment and space needs, and performing administrative tasks, such as reviewing catalogues and ordering samples. The need for up-to-date computer and communications equipment is an ongoing consideration for graphic designers.

Technical Illustrators & Artist

1.       Technical Illustrators plan, analyze, and create visual solutions to in a variety of artistic manners.  These technical and creative individuals may work under a multitude of job titles, but the end result lies in the delivery of a systematic artistic delivery of a product using a variety of tools and equipment.  They decide the most effective way of getting a message across in print, electronic, and other media using a variety of methods such as color, type, illustration, photography, animation, and various print and layout techniques.  Technical Illustrators are usually associated with the instructional assembly plans delivered with a consumer purchased product.  Simply put, they draw up the instructions to assemble your bicycle.

Technical Illustrators & Artists create art to communicate ideas, thoughts, or feelings. They use a variety of methods: painting, sculpting, or illustrationand an assortment of materials, including oils, watercolors, acrylics, pastels, pencils, pen and ink, plaster, clay, and computers. Artists’ works may be realistic, stylized, or abstract and may depict objects, people, nature, or events.

Technical Illustrators generally fall into one of several categories. Technical Illustrators sometimes create original artwork, using a variety of media and techniques. Multi-media artists and animators create special effects, animation, or other visual images on film, on video, or with computers or other electronic media.

2.       Technical Art Directors may develop design concepts and review material that is to appear in technical manuals, textbooks, periodicals, newspapers, and other printed or digital media. They decide how best to present the information visually, so that it is eye catching, appealing, and organized. Technical Art Directors decide which photographs or artwork to use and oversee the layout design and production of the printed material. They may direct workers engaged in artwork, layout design, and copyrighting.

3.       Technical Craft Artists hand-make a wide variety of objects that are used in a number of situations. Technical Craft Artists work with many different materials: ceramics, glass, textiles, wood, metal, and paperto create unique product or prototype.  Many Technical Craft Artists also use fine-art techniques, for example: painting, sketching, and printingto add finishing touches to their art.

4.       Fine Artists specialize in one or two art forms and may includepainting, illustrating, sketching, sculpting, printmaking, and restoring. Painters, illustrators, cartoonists, and sketch artists work with two-dimensional art forms, using shading, perspective, and color to produce realistic scenes or abstractions.

5.       Illustrators typically create pictures for books, magazines, and other publications and for commercial products such as textiles, wrapping paper, stationery, greeting cards, and calendars. Increasingly, illustrators are working in digital format, preparing work directly on a computer.

6.       Medical and Scientific Illustrators combine drawing skills with knowledge of biology or other sciences. Medical Illustrators draw illustrations of human anatomy and surgical procedures. Scientific Illustrators draw illustrations of animal and plant life, atomic and molecular structures, and geologic and planetary formations. The illustrations are used in medical and scientific publications and in audiovisual presentations for teaching purposes. Medical Illustrators also work for lawyers, producing exhibits for court cases.

7.       Cartoonists draw political, advertising, social, and sports cartoons. Some cartoonists work with others who create the idea or story and write the captions. Most cartoonists have comic, critical, or dramatic talents in addition to drawing skills.

8.       Sketch Artists create likenesses of subjects with pencil, charcoal, or pastels. Sketches are used by law enforcement agencies to assist in identifying suspects, by the news media to depict courtroom scenes, and by individual patrons for their own enjoyment.

9.       Technical Sculptors design three-dimensional artworks through the use of CADD/CAD and CNC (Computer Numerical Control) or milling type machinery.  These Technical Sculptors may also use either by molding and joining materials such as clay, glass, wire, plastic, fabric, or metal or by cutting and carving forms from a block of plaster, wood, or stone. Some sculptors combine various materials to create mixed-media installations.   Although many new products and systems are available to assist the Technical Sculptor, hand artistry is still an important aspect to the job.

10.   Printmakers create printed images from designs cut or etched into wood, stone, or metal. After creating the design, the artist inks the surface of the woodblock, stone, or plate and uses a printing press to roll the image onto paper or fabric. Some make prints by pressing the inked surface onto paper by hand or by graphically encoding and processing data, using a computer. The digitized images are then printed on paper with the use of a computer printer.

11.   Multi-media Artists and Animators work primarily in motion picture and video industries, advertising, and computer systems design services. They draw by hand and use computers to create the large series of pictures that form the animated images or special effects seen in movies, television programs, and computer games. Some draw storyboards for television commercials, movies, and animated features. Storyboards present television commercials in a series of scenes similar to a comic strip and allow an advertising agency to evaluate commercials proposed by the company doing the advertising. Storyboards also serve as guides to placing actors and cameras on the television or motion picture set and to other details that need to be taken care of during the production of commercials.

Related Careers

Drafting, Design, Graphic Arts, Technical Illustration, Document Handlers and today's Digital Technicians are the basis of some of the more creative and challenging technical careers in the world.  The processes that ADDA supports are the foundation of hundreds of careers in which the created visual document becomes the basis of the final product.

ADDA has compiled a list of areas where the influence of the drawing or document can lead an individual.  Many of the career opportunities are generally overlooked when students or career designers begin looking at their options.  Although these career paths may seem somewhat off course, they all stem back to the mathematics and science of how things work or the creative visions that are necessary in the design process.

As you consider entering this career and you begin to think about job availability there are several items to think about.  A Drafter, Designer, Technical Illustrator, Graphic Artist, Digital Technician or Artist who has completed a technical training program may find employment positions by these names difficult to locate.  A drafter today may be identified as a CAD Operator, Engineering Technician, Facilities Planner, Architectural Assistant and a dozen other names.  ADDA's advice to the potential employee is to watch for the work or skill requirements for the position.  Your skills and professional training lies in the theory and technical aspects of drafting and design regardless of the job title.  These technical skills will play an important part of any career field you enter.


Construction Estimator Carpenter Steelworker
Iron Worker Mason Plumber Electrician
Pattern Maker Fashion Designer Landscaper Utilities
City Planner Cabinet Maker Office Planner Lighting Tech
Stage Designer Robotics Material Handling Packaging
Machining HVAC Medical Equipment Office Equipment
Civil Tech Structural Steel Interior Designer Store Planner
Surveyor Assistant