Drafting Technician Overview
A drafting technician helps civil engineers plan, design, and build highways, bridges, utilities, and other infrastructure projects. They also help plan, design, and build commercial, industrial, residential, and land development projects.
Typically, drafting technicians work under the charge of licensed civil engineers. These technicians generally help civil engineers in performing some of the same tasks as the engineers. However, because they are not licensed, drafting technicians cannot approve designs or supervise the overall project.
What Does a Drafting Technician Do?
Drafting technicians typically do the following:
- Use computer-aided design software under charge of engineers
- Evaluate pre-construction field conditions
- Read and review project drawings and plans to establish the sizes of structures
- Confer with engineers about preparing plans
- Observe project sites and evaluate contractors’ work to notice problems with a design
- Test construction materials and soil samples in laboratories
- Help in making sure that project construction conforms to design specifications and applicable codes
- Create plans and estimate costs for constructing systems and operating facilities
- Set up & help maintain project files and records
- Prepare reports & document project activities and data
- Gather data and prepare analyses
How to Become a Drafting Technician
Although not always required, a drawing and drafting qualification is preferred for employment as a drafting technician.
Generally, employers prefer engineering technicians to have an associate’s degree from a program accredited by ABET, even though a degree is not always required. Engineering technology programs are also available at technical or vocational schools that award a postgraduate certificate or diploma in drafting.
Courses at technical or vocational schools may include a curriculum in engineering, design, and computer software. To complete an associate’s degree, students are usually required to take other courses in liberal arts and the sciences.
Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations
Certification is not required to enter this occupation. However, it can help technicians advance their careers. National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies (NICET) is one of primary organizations controlling certification for civil engineering technicians.
Certification as a drafting technician needs passing an exam and providing documentation. That includes work history, recommendations, and, for most programs, supervisor confirmation of specific experience. NICET needs technicians to update their skills and knowledge through a recertification process that inspires continuing professional development.
Drafting technicians can advance their careers by learning to design systems for various projects, such as storm sewers and sanitary systems. It is also useful for drafting technicians to become skilled at reading plans and profiles—the graphical representation of proposed projects.
Notably, drafting technicians can also benefit from increased knowledge of computer systems and applications, particularly with word processing and spreadsheet programs, geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS).