What Is CAD Drafting?

Computer aided design (CAD) software has become one of the most widely used tools in the engineering and architectural fields. Read on to find out more about the ways that CAD is utilized by drafters to complete many important design-related tasks. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is Computer Aided Design?

Computer aided design software was developed to make a variety of design tasks more efficient. Rather than execute each step of a design by hand, CAD software allows architectural drafters and other types of design engineers to utilize computers to bring ideas from concept to completion. While CAD software does not replace traditional drafting techniques, it may greatly reduce the amount of time necessary to complete a design plan. CAD also offers drafters the ability to easily save and modify their work. Because of its versatility, CAD software may be used in the design of anything from a tiny machine part to a large building. CAD drafting may be used by the following professionals:

  • Civil engineers
  • Mechanical engineers
  • Aeronautical engineers
  • Architects
  • Structural engineers

Important Facts About CAD Drafting

Online Availability Courses are offered
Prerequisites High school diploma/GED
Common Courses Architectural Design, Principles of Building Construction, Blueprint Reading, Technical Design, Cartographic Design Basics
Continuing Education While Bachelor's degrees in CAD drafting are rare, there are programs in for Architecture and Industrial and Product Design
Median Salary (2018)* $54,920 (for architectural and civil drafters)
Job Outlook (2016-2026)* 8% (for architectural and civil drafters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

CAD Educational Programs

Many community colleges, vocational schools and universities offer training in CAD software. Some schools offer entire certificate or associate's degree programs in CAD technology, while others offer CAD courses through drafting or engineering programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, professional drafters often need at least a certificate or an associate's degree. Architects and engineers need baccalaureate and/or graduate-level education. Below are some of the ways that professional drafters utilize CAD software.

2-Dimensional (2D) Drafting

While there are a variety of CAD software programs currently available, even the most basic programs include some form of 2D modeling. CAD allows drafters to efficiently create basic, 2-dimensional forms that often serve as the basis of a much more complex project. For instance, 2D drafting may be used in the creation of the floor plan of a house. Tasks typically associated with 2D drafting include:

  • Curve creation
  • Point construction
  • Rotating
  • Scaling

3-Dimensional (3D) Drafting

3D drafting allows users to take their 2D creations to the next level. 3D modeling is used in the creation of solids, such as machine parts, bridges and buildings. CAD can be used to add or subtract volume from geometric forms, such as cylinders or spheres. With most CAD software, 3D models can be easily converted into 2D drawings in order to be presented as traditional drafting documents. 3D drafting is generally considered a more realistic approach to drafting because its renderings most accurately resemble real-life objects.

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