Drafters: Salary Overview
Drafters use specialized software to convert designs made by architects and engineers into technical drawings.
Drafters typically specialize in areas such as electrical, mechanical, civil, or architectural drafting.
Their job descriptions vary depending on the specialty but drafters typically work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects to design plans using computer-aided design software.
They typically work under the supervision of engineers and architects.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for drafters was $56,830 as of May 2019 but salaries vary based on a wide range of factors.
The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,920 while the highest 10 percent earned more than $87,720.
How much a drafter makes a year depends on his/her level of experience but also on the specialty and region of employment.
Drafter Salary by Specialty
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, drafters held about 199,900 jobs in 2018, over 100,000 of them being architectural and civil drafters.
Mechanical drafters held about 58,000 jobs in 2018 while electrical and electronics drafters held approximately 25,600.
Approximately 15,000 drafters had a different specialization.
The median annual salary for electrical and electronics drafters was $61,530 in May 2019.
Mechanical drafters earned around $57,060 a year while architectural and civil drafters earned a median annual wage of $56,340 a year.
Drafters who had a different specialization earned around $52,830 a year.
Drafter Salary by Industry
According to BLS, drafters held about 199,900 jobs in 2018, almost half (49%) of them being employed by companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services.
The manufacturing industry employed 25% of all drafters while 10% of them worked in the construction field.
About 4% of drafters worked for companies that provide administrative and support and waste management and remediation services and 2% of them worked in the field of wholesale trade.
The highest median wage for drafters was reported in the construction field, where drafters earned around $57,890 a year as of May 2019.
The median annual wage was $57,650 for drafters who worked in the administrative and support and waste management and remediation services and $56,720 for those who worked at companies that provide architectural, engineering, and related services.
The manufacturing industry offered a median annual wage for drafter equal to $55,670 while the wholesale trade industry paid drafters with a median annual wage of $53,970.
However, the median annual wage tells us only that half of the workers in an occupation earned less than this amount and half earned more.
For example, 50% of the drafters who worked in the construction field earned less than $57,890, and 50% earned more.
As a beginner in this field, you can earn less than $35,000 and after gaining 10-20 years of experience you may earn over $85,000-$90,000 a year.
Drafter Salary by Compensation Structure
As a drafter, you can either earn a fixed salary or be paid an hourly rate.
Some employers also offer bonuses and profit sharing to drafters.
According to payscale.com drafters have earned, on average, $1,675 a year in bonuses and $1,483 in profit sharing.
These numbers also vary depending on many factors, including the employee’s level of experience and the employer.
Drafters can earn anywhere between $240-$5,872 a year in bonuses and $450-$9,000 in profit sharing.
Many drafters also receive health and dental benefits.
About 77% of them received health benefits while 60% of them received dental benefits, according to payscale.com.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for drafters is projected to show little or no change from 2018 to 2028.
Job opportunities and the demand for drafters vary depending on their specialty.
For example, employment for electrical and electronics drafters is projected to grow 3 percent while employment for mechanical drafters is expected to decrease by 7 percent.
Competition may be strong in some regions and experienced drafters who hold at least an associate’s degree in this field should have better job prospects.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Drafters. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.