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

Draughtsmen prepare 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 draughtsmen 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 specialization in preparing drawings in the various fields is therefore necessary:

Areas of drafting specialization include:

Civil Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
Structural Engineering
Town and Regional Planning
Cartographical (maps)

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 finalize 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 finalize drawings

- Design draughtsmen handle advanced work

Satisfying Aspects
- doing accurate and precise work
- having good promotional opportunities
- travelling to other offices or work sites to gain first-hand information about a project

Demanding aspects
- sitting or standing for long periods of time
- experiencing eye strain as a result of doing close work
- having to work overtime to meet deadlines

A draughtsman should:
- be able to transfer concepts onto paper;
- have patience and perseverance;
- be meticulously accurate;
- enjoy doing detailed work;
- be able to concentrate for long periods of time;
- have three-dimensional perception;
- have good vision;
- have good eye-hand coordination and free-hand drawing skills;
- be interested in and have a flair for computer work;
- have stamina (at times standing is required).

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Some employers prefer higher qualifications

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Engineering and Graphic Design

Diploma: Draughtsmens' training consists of 18 months of academic training, available at most universities of technology, and 18 months of in-service training at an approved firm. To be accepted for training, candidates must first apply for employment at possible employers. The employer usually pays the tuition fees and also pays the learner draughtsman a salary during training.

Diplomas available are:
N.Dip. Architectural Technology - CPUT, DUT, TUT
N.Dip. Cartography - CPUT, TUT
N.Dip. Surveying - CPUT, UKZN
N.Dip. Town and Regional Planning - CPUT, DUT, UJ, US, UFS, UV
N.Dip. Mine Surveying - UNISA

These courses take three years to complete.

Prospective draughtsmen can also obtain certificate courses in Multi-Disciplinary Drawing Office Practice (N4 - N5) at a FET college. After obtaining the certificate, the students must undergo three years of in-service training in a drawing office, before they can be called draughtsmen.

Alternatively, register with an employer providing suitable in-service training.

- Architectural and engineering firms
- Such organizations as:Mittal Steel, Eskom, Sasol, Transnet
- Municipalities
- Construction companies
- Metal manufacturing companies
- Machinery construction companies
- Mining companies
- Transnet
- 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

SA Institute of Draughting
P O Box 750
Howard Place, 7450
Telefax: (021) 532-0261

SA Design Institute,
South African Bureau of Standards,
Private Bag X 191
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 428-6326 Fax: (012) 428-6546

C A D Drafting College
cc College of Engineering
159 Beyers Naude Drive
Tel: (011) 888-7555 Fax: (011) 888-7222

Academy Of Draughting Johannesburg:
P O Box 1503
Roosevelt Park, 2129
Tel: (011) 888-7555 Fax: (011) 888-7222

Academy Of Draughting Cape Town:
P O Box 1368
Cape Town, 8000
Tel: (021) 421-6448 Fax: (021) 421-2260

Academy Of Draughting Durban:
P O Box 4594
Durban, 4000
Tel: (031) 21-6523 Fax: (031) 21-6525

Academy Of Draughting