What Is Computer Aided Drafting?

Computer-aided drafting (CAD) utilizes computer systems and software for designing anything from small appliances to buildings. Keep reading to find out more about computer-aided drafting. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

CAD Overview

The days of designing with pencils, rulers, and paper are long gone. Today, designers such as engineers or architects use computer-aided drafting (CAD) software as their tool of choice. Computer-aided drafting is also called computer-aided design. CAD is a computer software or system that is used to create 3-D and 2-D representations or models of various tangible objects such as bridges, buildings, or mechanical parts.

CAD allows designers to produce accurate drawings quickly and to save, revisit, edit, and print them, streamlining the workflow and enhancing productivity. Using computer-aided drafting software generally involves specially trained technicians, or drafters who use CAD to make technical drawings from sketches made by a designer. Computer-aided drafting software is also used in conjunction with computer-aided manufacturing to change a design into computerized instructions for machines to make the part.

Important Facts About Computer-Aided Drafting

Required Education Technical school Certificate of Completion; Bachelor's degree
Work Environment office setting; job sites
Similar Occupations architects; mechanical engineers; industrial designers
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


There are many computer-aided drafting software programs produced by a multitude of manufacturers for a variety of purposes. Programs are available free, as shareware or they may cost several thousand dollars. One example is Autodesk AutoCAD, which is the standard CAD software used by many engineers and designers. CAD software can be used on a PC, Mac, or larger systems. Computer-aided drafting programs are designed specifically for engineers, architects, fashion designers, theater lighting designers, archaeologists, and woodworkers, as well as many other types of designers.

Education and Training

Degrees and certificates are available from both technical schools and four-year colleges. Those who are interested in pursuing a career that involves using computer-aided drafting software should have good communication skills and a strong background in math and science. For individuals such as drafters, opportunities for employment and chances for advancement should be best for those with strong skills in computer-aided drafting, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov).

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