In a still-struggling economy, with joblessness remaining high, and with only small inroads being made toward recovery, Computerized Design and Manufacturing Department at Alfred State College, finds his students in the enviable position of being able to pick and choose among job offers even prior to graduation.
“It sounds almost unbelievable,” says Martinelli, “but the demand for drafters is currently far out-pacing the number of students we graduate from our program. This is a mixed blessing: on the one hand, it is a welcome sign of economic recovery, but on the other hand, we can’t meet the demand.”
Alfred State College, known for its hands-on approach to education, particularly on the School of Applied Technology campus, enjoys a stellar reputation for graduating a future work force that can “hit the ground running.” And among the many programs available at the college is a two-year AOS (associate in occupational studies) American Design and Drafting Association-certified program that prepares drafters for entry-level employment in a wide variety of occupations, such as
- Cad drafter
- Mechanical drafter
- Cad operator
- Mechanical designer
- Commercial and industrial designers
- Engineering technicians
Drafters prepare the technical drawings and plans which are used by production and construction workers to build everything from microchips to skyscrapers. Most drafters use Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) systems to prepare drawings. Consequently, some drafters may be referred to as CADD operators. CADD systems allow drafters to create and store drawings electronically so that they can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into automated manufacturing systems. CADD systems also permit drafters to quickly prepare variations of a design. Although drafters use CADD extensively, they still need knowledge of traditional drafting techniques in order to fully understand and explain concepts.
During the first year of study at ASC, students gain a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of technical illustration.
CADD has increased the complexity of drafting applications while enhancing the productivity of drafters. It also has enhanced the nature of drafting by creating more possibilities for design and drafting. As technology continues to advance, employers will look for drafters with a strong background in fundamental drafting principles, a high level of technical sophistication, and the ability to apply their knowledge to a broader range of responsibilities.
Based on Bureau of Labor Statistics information the best opportunities for drafters are expected for those with at least two years of postsecondary training in a drafting program that provides strong technical skills and considerable experience with CADD systems. Although employers usually do not require drafters to be certified, certification demonstrates knowledge and an understanding of nationally recognized practices.
Drafters' earnings vary by specialty, location, and level of responsibility. In May 2008 (BoLS) median annual wages of mechanical drafters were $46,640; median annual wages for electrical and electronics drafters were $47,910.
In polling the current graduating CAD students, Martinelli discovered their reasons for choosing Alfred State: you can find employment after graduating from ASC; wanted to focus on our major (CAD), not liberal arts; ASC is affordable; and family members have attended Alfred State.
Martinelli discovered their reasons for choosing Alfred State “Based on all the evidence out there,” says Martinelli, “we project the need for qualified drafters and designers to increase as the outlook for the manufacturing sector continues to improve.”