Building construction instructor John Ganus is pumped about a drafting program beginning this fall semester at the Blount County Career Tech Center in Cleveland.
“This is a new career area for Blount County students that we’re opening up here, and we want to get the word out to high school students that it’s available,” he said. All eighth and 10th grade students in county schools will visit the Career Tech Center the latter part of April for an orientation to what is offered there, he said. Tenth graders will be able to sign up for courses in career areas of interest following the visit. Programs last through their 11th and 12th grades.
“I definitely want them all to come by and let me show them the setup here,” Gainus said. “We’ve got 20 work stations equipped with autoCAD (computerassisted design) software for architecture, and we can accommodate up to 60 students in three different sessions. We just moved into a new 5600-square-foot building last October. We’re letting our current class of students in construction use the system this semester, and we’re getting the kinks worked out, so we’ll be ready to go in the fall,” he said. Classes, including the new drafting sequence, meet five days a week for one block class period each day.
Groundwork laid for associate degree
Ganus said it would be possible for students to go directly from the two-year Career Tech drafting program into the workforce, but that a majority of them will use the training as a foundation for postsecondary work at a two-year college like Wallace State or Jefferson State, where they would receive associate degrees in applied science following a five-semester program.
Opportunities are best for those with associate degrees in drafting, which provide considerable experience using CAD systems, along with well-developed drafting and drawing skills and knowledge of drafting standards. Proficiency in math is a definite advantage for those entering the field, Ganus said.
In industry, drafters prepare technical drawings and plans used to build everything from toys, consumer products, industrial machinery, and spacecraft to houses, industrial and office buildings, and oil and gas pipelines. Most drafters now use CAD to prepare drawings, instead of traditional manual tools like pens and pencils, compasses, protractors, and triangles.
Many drafters work for architectural or engineering firms on construction projects. Jobs are also found in manufacturing industries such as machinery, fabricated metals, computers and electronics, and transportation equipment. Others are employed by government, construction firms, utilities, or in wholesale trade.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Statistics, annual earnings of architectural and civil drafters reached $57,000 in 2003. Mechanical drafters earnings averaged over $67,000, and electrical and electronics drafters earned over $72,000. Ganus said he estimates wages for experienced drafters in this part of the country to be in the mid- $50,000 range annually.