Draughtsperson

Draughtsmen and women, or drafters as they are also called, translate the ideas and rough sketches of engineers, architects and scientists into detailed drawings.


A draughtsperson prepares technical drawings and plans used by production and construction workers to build everything from manufactured products such as spacecraft or industrial machinery, to structures such as office buildings or oil and gas pipelines.

Their drawings provide visual guidelines, showing the technical details of the products and structures, specifying dimensions, materials to be used, and procedures and processes to be followed. Drafters fill in technical details, using drawings, rough sketches, specifications, codes and calculations supplied by engineers, surveyors, architects or scientists.

They use various drafting tools, engineering practices and mathematics to complete drawings, including technical handbooks, tables, calculators and computers.

Traditionally, draughtsmen sat at drawing boards and used compasses, dividers, protractors, triangles and other drafting devices to prepare a drawing manually.

Most draughtspersons now use computer-aided drafting (CAD) systems to prepare drawings. These systems employ computer workstations which create a drawing on a video screen. These systems make it easy to prepare many variations of a design and allow it to be viewed from angles not usually available with traditional drafting methods. The drawings are stored electronically so that variations, revisions or duplications can be made easily and quickly.

Although this equipment has become easier to operate, CAD is only a tool. People who produce technical drawings using CAD still function as drafters, and need most of the knowledge of traditional drafters, relating to drafting skills and standards, as well as CAD skills. Some drafting work, however, continues to be done by traditional manual and tracing methods in addition to using computers to draw designs.

Drafters prepare detailed drawings based on sketches and specifications prepared by architects, engineers or other designers. Projects differ radically and specialisation in preparing drawings in the various fields is therefore necessary:

Areas of drafting specialisation include:

Aeronautical, Architectural, Civil Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Structural Engineering, Town and Regional Planning, Geological, Landscape, Cartographical (maps), Mining, Marine.

Some of these in more detail are:

  • Architectural drafters draw plans for all kinds of buildings.
  • Civil engineering drafters draw plans for bridges, roads, irrigation and construction schemes.
  • Mechanical engineering drafters sketch plans for machines and engine parts, also of such things as: hydrological steelworks and air conditioning systems.
  • Electrical engineering drafters finalise plans for electrical circuits and wiring systems in buildings, etc.
  • Structural engineering drafters draw designs for towers and steel frames.
  • Town and regional planning drafters draw maps of sewage, drinking water, steam, heating, cooling and conveyor installations, and they may also build models for projects.
  • Cartographical drafters draw different types of maps such as cadastral, topographical and meteorological.
  • Mining drafters draw plans of mines, including three-dimensional plans, which could help, for example, with the upgrading of safety standards.
Within the various industries, distinction is made between tracers, detail draughtsmen and design draughtsmen:
  • Tracers copy drawings and generally assist draughtsmen
  • Detail draughtsmen finalise drawings
  • Design draughtsmen handle advanced work


Personal Requirements

  • able to transfer concepts onto paper
  • patience and perseverance
  • meticulously accurate
  • enjoy doing detailed work
  • able to concentrate for long periods
  • three-dimensional perception
  • good eye-hand coordination and free-hand drawing skills
  • interest in and flair for computer work
  • stamina - at times standing is required


Employment

  • architectural and engineering firms
  • such organisations as: Mittal Steel, Eskom, Sasol, Transnet
  • municipalities
  • construction companies
  • metal manufacturing companies
  • machinery construction companies
  • mining companies
  • contract draughting firms
  • government departments, such as : Water Affairs, Agricultural Economics and Marketing, Mineral and Energy Affairs
  • self-employment, doing freelance work or with enough experience and capital, can start own business


Getting Started

  • visit a drawing office and talk to a draughtsman and ask permission to watch them at work
  • develop hobbies and activities such as model building, woodworking and simple repairing to help become familiar with such things as blueprints and technical instructions and also to increase your mechanical dexterity


Programmes

Boston City Campus and Business College does not offer a programme that leads directly to this occupation. Please take a look at the related occupations below to see whether any of these appeal to you. Alternately, please send an email to taryn@boston.co.za and a Student Advisor will call you back.


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