Drafting Technologists and Technicians - What They Do

Drafting technologists and technicians prepare engineering designs, drawings and related technical information, in multidisciplinary engineering teams or in support of engineers, architects or industrial designers, or they may work independently. They are employed by consulting and construction companies, utility, resource and manufacturing companies, all levels of government and by a wide range of other establishments.

Job duties

This group perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Drafting technologists
  • Develop and prepare engineering designs and drawings from preliminary concepts, sketches, engineering calculations, specification sheets and other data
  • Operate computer-assisted design (CAD) and drafting workstations
  • Develop and prepare design sketches
  • Complete documentation packages and produce drawing sets
  • Check and verify design drawings to conform to specifications and design data
  • Write technical reports
  • Prepare contracts and tender documents
  • Prepare construction specifications, costs and material estimates
  • Supervise and train other technologists, technicians and drafters.
  • Drafting technicians
  • Develop and prepare engineering drawings, plans, diagrams or layouts from sketches
  • Operate computer-assisted drafting equipment or a conventional drafting station.

Job titles

  • structural steel drafter-detailer
  • steel detailer - drafting
  • architectural draftsperson
  • computer-assisted design and drafting technologist
  • computer-assisted drafting (CAD) technician
  • design and drafting technologist
  • draftsperson
  • drafting technician
  • drafting technologist
  • electrical draftsperson
  • electromechanical draftsperson
  • electronic draftsperson
  • engineering design and drafting technologist
  • structural draftsperson
  • drafting office supervisor
  • mechanical draftsperson
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school is usually required.
  • Completion of a two- to three-year college program in engineering design and drafting technology or in a related field is usually required for drafting and design technologists.
  • Completion of a one- to two-year college program in drafting or Completion of a three- to four-year apprenticeship program or Four to five years of related experience plus completion of college or industry courses in drafting are usually required for drafting technicians.
  • Trade certification for draftspersons is available, but voluntary in Ontario.
  • Certification in engineering design and drafting technology or in a related field through provincial associations of engineering/applied science technologists and technicians may be required by employers.
  • A period of supervised work experience, usually two years, is required before certification.

Essential Skills


  • Read text descriptions, special requirements and clarifications on completed forms. For example, structural steel detailers review responses on 'Request for Information' forms for answers to questions they posed to designers and owners. (1)
  • Read memos, information sheets and letters to obtain information and direction. For example, they review memos to obtain updates on project activities. (2)
  • Skim trade publications and company newsletters to keep up-to-date on trends in equipment, drafting tools, materials and architecture. (2)
  • Read computer, materials, and company policy and procedures manuals. For example, they may read instructions in manuals to learn how to use features of a computer program. (3)
  • Scan specification books prepared by project designers for details to include or consider when preparing detail drawings. The specification books are lengthy and include a significant amount of technical details. (3)
  • Scan and interpret relevant regulations such as building, plumbing and electrical codes to ensure projects meet requirements. For example, architectural drafting technologists and technicians interpret federal and provincial fire safety regulations to ensure the construction will be safe and conform to regulations. (3)
  • Refer to regulations and explanations in industry-specific reference manuals. For example, structural steel detailers refer to the Handbook of Steel Construction for explanations of formulas. (3)

Document use

  • Identify icons to select the correct software tools or activate drafting features. (1)
  • May interpret graphed information. For instance, they may interpret graphs displaying efficiency data for materials under different conditions or showing industry trends for construction materials. (2)
  • Enter personal scheduling details, tracking information and materials' details into tables and onto forms. For example, they enter current and wire gauge details into electrical reference tables. (2)
  • Obtain project details and materials information from tables. For example, they locate bearing loads for various sizes of beams in reference tables. (2)
  • Refer to completed forms to obtain information about projects. For example, they may scan forms for dates, locations or land survey findings. (2)
  • Make changes, corrections and improvements to scale drawings and project schematics. For instance, in cases where the detailing work is completed using three-dimensional modeling programs, the two-dimensional output drawings frequently need editing to ensure production or manufacturing personnel have the information required. (3)
  • Review sketches or preliminary drawings, including assembly drawings, land surveys and erection drawings created by engineers, architects or designers illustrating project features. Often, they synthesize information about location, dimensions, elevation, power distribution and materials from multiple drawings. These pieces of information form the bases of the drawings created. (4)
  • Examine the continuity of designs through multiple drawings and views to confirm the alignment and placement of drawing elements. They must attend to hundreds of details from different documents to confirm the continuity of the drawings. (4)


  • Write short notes and annotations on drawings for builders and manufacturers to supplement visual information. For example, they write notes on drawings to indicate that a section should not be painted. (1)
  • Write short notes on drawings and forms for co-workers. For example, they write notes on drawings to indicate reviews, comments, opinions or requests for additional information from project designers. (2)
  • Write e-mail to co-workers and clients exchanging information. For example, they may write a short e-mail describing project status. (2)
  • May write letters, addenda and lengthy e-mail to clients or contractors detailing project needs and changes, providing or requesting information and inviting bids. Since the clients or contractors may not have the same technical knowledge, they must choose their words carefully. (3)
  • May write lengthy and complex assembly and building procedure directions to supplement drawings. Builders and manufacturers use these documents during the production stage; risk to the project is great if the directions are not clear. (3)


Money Math

  • Purchase drafting supplies using cash or credit cards. (1)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

  • May determine the cost of materials required for drafting projects. (2)
  • May create daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly work schedules for themselves and team members. They take into account project deadlines, the drafting components required, the amount of time the components will take to complete, the number of team members and the amount of time that can be devoted to the project given other work demands. (3)

Measurement and Calculation Math

  • Use on-screen tools to measure distances and angles. (1)
  • Convert distances on scaled drawings to actual dimensions using the drawing ratio. (2)
  • Make calculations to decide whether projects meet the regulations while preparing the detail drawings. For example, an architectural draftsperson may calculate the number of exits a room requires to comply with the National Fire Code. (2)
  • calculate areas and volumes of complex industrial products and construction projects to determine the amounts of materials required. (3)
  • Use geometry, trigonometry and algebraic formulas when detailing the relationships between shapes in drawings. For example, structural steel detailers may need to determine the angles of bevels required to fit metal pieces together. (4)
  • May carry out structural or system analyses using multiple, complex formulas. For example, they may analyze electrical and mechanical systems by calculating current and fluid flows and resistances through wiring and piping or they may analyze shear forces and bending moments to determine the effect of loads on structures. (4)

Data Analysis Math

  • Compare the dimensions in drawings to specifications to ensure they meet the requirements, and then compare the dimensions in one drawing to others to check their consistency. (1)
  • Generate statistics that summarize key features of construction projects. For example, an architectural drafting technologist working on an apartment design may calculate square metres per exit, degrees of bend per metre of ductwork, percentage of walls that are glazed and the ratio of parking spaces to residential units. (2)

Numerical Estimation

  • May estimate costs of projects by considering the average cost of similar projects in the past and approximate increases in material costs. (2)
  • Estimate the time needed for drafting projects. They use experience with similar projects to guide the development of schedules for new projects. (2)

Oral communication

  • Exchange operational information with support staff. For instance, they co-ordinate the delivery of drawings, order printing and request supplies. (1)
  • Share opinions with co-workers, colleagues and peers about successful projects, problematic projects and drafting techniques. (2)
  • May assign tasks to team members when leading teams. They provide instructions to junior members and assist them as they edit and complete drawings. (2)
  • Talk to their supervisors to obtain work assignments and project requirements, deliver project status information and defend design and detailing choices. (2)
  • May make presentations to co-workers. For example, designer-detailers in manufacturing may present updates about product development to their co-workers during regular staff meetings. (2)
  • Participate in or lead group discussions with project teams to co-ordinate work, share project status information and ensure project design and detailing components are accurately referenced to one another. Team members may include designers and other drafting professionals. (3)
  • Meet with architects, engineers, designers, other drafting professionals and various consultants to obtain additional information, clarification and feedback about drawings and to discuss projects' challenges. For example, architectural drafting technologists and technicians meet with structural, mechanical and electrical detailers to discuss joint projects. They might make recommendations for specific changes or persuade specialists to change their drawings to fit larger and more comprehensive plans. (3)


Problem Solving

  • Discover that key pieces of information required to complete detail drawings are missing. They identify what information is missing, their sources, and determine how best to obtain them. For instance, they may find that information about mating parts is missing and they have to request the details from designers. (2)
  • Experience computer, software and peripheral malfunctions which prevent them from carrying out drawing tasks. They try to resolve the malfunctions themselves using information from technical and user manuals but if that fails, they have to contact technical support. Correcting computer malfunctions efficiently enhances their ability to complete work on time. (2)
  • Find that clients are not satisfied with drawings or that construction or manufacturing staff require additional information before proceeding. They obtain and apply feedback and meet with the clients or designers. They must incorporate the criticisms to ensure their drawings meet the requests. (2)
  • Discover that drafting personnel on their teams have not completed their drawings. They identify the people who have not completed their work, obtain the unfinished work immediately and complete the drawing sets themselves. They may ask their supervisors for support. (2)
  • Encounter design problems or contradictions between drawings and specifications. The discrepancies may result in components not fitting precisely or not meeting standards or regulations. They identify the faulty elements, determine whether they can make the needed design adjustments and either make them or relay information about the problems to the designers for resolution or clarification. (3)

Decision Making

  • Decide whether design adjustments are within their responsibilities or whether they need to obtain input from their supervisors or the designers. (2)
  • Decide the order in which to produce drawings by considering who requires them, which are foundational and at which stage they are normally required. (2)
  • May decide which drafting professionals to assign to particular projects or tasks. They consider team members' abilities, skills and workloads. (2)
  • Decide which standards or regulations to apply in different situations. (2)
  • Decide how much detail to include in drawings. They consider the types of drawings, their users and the information requirements for differing types of construction and manufacturing. (2)
  • Decide to present additional design details in tables attached to drawing sets, considering how construction or manufacturing employees will use them and what format will be easy for them to use. (3)

Critical Thinking

  • Evaluate the suitability of design elements. For example, they evaluate whether door samples suit the vision of the project and meet the appropriate regulations or whether the width of a sidewalk is appropriate given the foot traffic expected. (2)
  • Assess the adequacy of preliminary drawings, sketches or data before proceeding with the drafting. They consider all elements, whether they are clear on the project vision and if any key pieces of information are missing. Judging adequacy accurately ensures drawings reflect the designs. (3)
  • Evaluate the accuracy, completeness and continuity of their drawings or those created by other drafting professionals on the projects. They consider all aspects of the drawings, such as if the elements work together, the match between fit and function, whether key points are adequately referenced and if the builders or manufacturers have sufficient information to proceed. (3)

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Own Job Planning and Organizing

Drafting technologists and technicians' daily routines do not change significantly as they tackle different projects. In workplaces where they are assigned multiple projects at a given time, they may need to determine work priorities among them. In all cases, they must meet project deadlines. In larger offices, they co-ordinate job tasks with other drafting personnel, both within and outside their organizations. They reorganize their schedules to accommodate changing priorities of different projects.

Planning and Organizing for Others

Drafting technologists and technicians may plan and schedule the work of other drafting personnel on their teams. They assign drawing tasks, set timelines and monitor progress. In some companies, they may contribute to organizational and strategic planning.

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember project elements applied in the past that may assist with current projects. For example, they may remember the availability of materials, sizes of piping used, or detail drawings that can be modified rather than created anew.
  • Remember commonly used commands, settings and tools in the software they use.
  • Remember mathematical formulas used frequently.
  • Remember the dimensions of commonly used materials.
  • Remember elements of standards or regulations pertaining to the designs they are drawing.

Finding Information

  • Find information about products and pricing by looking at product samples and information in the company library, conducting web searches and contacting suppliers. (2)
  • Find information about new projects by looking at sketches, scanning data sheets, reviewing preliminary drawings and talking to engineers, architects and industrial designers. (3)

Digital technology

  • Use database software. For example, to obtain the drawings from past projects. (2)
  • Use communications software. For example, they use communications software to exchange e-mail and attachments such as compressed drawing files. (2)
  • May use other computer and software applications. For example, they use other computer and software applications such as personal digital assistants to communicate while off-site and use digital cameras to exchange images. (2)
  • Use the Internet. For example, they use it to search and navigate through competitor, supplier and contractor websites or to upload and download drawings using file transfer protocol. They may conduct keyword searches to learn about new features of the computer-assisted design programs. (2)
  • Use word processing. For example to prepare letters, write information requests, detailed directions and site instructions. They may use the desktop publishing features of the software to lay out text and digital images. (3)
  • Use spreadsheets. For example, to create, edit and enter information to calculate, track time spent on projects, organize supplemental information or track data or drawings. For instance, they enter time spent on a project into a pre-existing timesheet spreadsheet. (3)
  • Use hardware and system skills. For example, they have a significant responsibility for maintaining their own workstations. They connect new computers and peripherals, move equipment, load software and set user options. They collect information about software bugs and help support technicians diagnose and correct errors. (3)
  • Use computer-assisted design, manufacturing or machining. For example, they use design software to create, view and edit two-dimensional drawings and three-dimensional representations; take precise measurements, draw lines, circles and other shapes precisely; note key reference points, enter text into the word processing-like feature and search for previous projects using database-like features. (4)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Drafting technologists and technicians usually work independently but coordinate their work with larger design teams. In some cases, they may manage or lead teams of draftspersons on large and complex projects. They are responsible for ensuring their work meets the designers', engineers' or architects' vision. When leading teams of draftspersons they are also responsible for communicating project expectations and managing the work of their team. (3)

Continuous Learning

Drafting technologists and technicians must stay up-to-date with technological advances in the industry as most drafting work requires a thorough and efficient use of computer-assisted design programs. They learn about technological advances from daily work activities, training offered by software companies, trade associations and their employers, and through personal reading and study using trade publications, company newsletters, manuals, books, regulations and websites. (2)