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What does a Civil Drafter do?

By Lily Ruha
Updated: Feb 23, 2024

A civil drafter creates drawings and maps to be used in engineering and construction projects. The building and repair of bridges, highways, water systems, pipelines and sewage systems are some of the construction projects for which a civil drafter’s drawings and maps are used. Civil drafters obtain training in a variety of settings including technical institutes, colleges, and the military. A civil drafter needs to draw well, pay close attention to data and details, and possess solid interpersonal skills.

Civil drafters are required to develop maps and drawings, sometimes by hand and other times by using computer-assisted drafting systems. Although the specific responsibilities and tools used vary based on the setting, a civil drafter usually creates plans and draws detailed maps and diagrams for structures and construction projects. Examples may include drawings of a highway, a dike or a sewage system.

The work of civil drafters may extend beyond drawing and include calculation, interpretation and correlation of data. A drafter in a hydrogeologic services company, for example, might be required to calculate the tonnage from an excavation activity in an earth-moving project. He may be expected to interpret data from well logs and topographical surveys.

Civil drafters usually work in office buildings of major construction or engineering companies. A drafter’s daily tasks involve drawing, working with computers and reviewing and analyzing data. Interaction with engineers, architects, construction staff and surveyors is an important part of the job and requires solid communication and interpersonal skills.

The on-the-job challenges of a civil drafter are related to the repetitive nature of the job. Paying close attention to detail for long hours can sometimes cause eyesight issues. The constant use of the hands in drawing can result in strains of the wrists and hands. A civil drafter must also be accustomed to working for long hours in a sedentary position.

Training programs in civil drafting are provided by technical institutes, colleges, and in some military settings. Employers generally require a high school diploma and drafting experience. Some employers require four-year degrees, particularly for drafters who fulfill managerial roles. In addition to drawing skills, requirements often involve some knowledge of manufacturing processes, construction methods, engineering principles, and more specialized knowledge in computer-assisted drafting systems.

Advancement opportunities often exist for civil drafters. A drafter who is just starting out will usually be supervised closely by senior staff. With advancement usually comes greater responsibility, including data calculation and drawing modification. Drafters with many years of experience often fulfill supervisory roles or pursue careers as architects or engineers.

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