CAD Drafter: Job Description, Salary & Job Outlook

Get information about the work duties and pay scale for CAD drafters. Educational requirements, employment outlook and related occupations are also discussed. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

CAD (computer-aided design) drafters use various types of software to draw both 2D and 3D designs of everything from jackhammers to jumbo jets. The main role of a CAD drafter is to turn the rough drawings and designs from a professional designer, such as an architect, engineer or industrial designer, into highly technical drawings. Learn more details in the table that follows.

Degree RequiredAssociate's degree
Education Field of StudyCAD drafting, architectural drafting, mechanical drafting, marine drafting
Key ResponsibilitiesDesign technical drawings, create bills of materials, create and maintain data bases of building and product information
Required Skills Precision, attention to detail, thoroughness, problem solving
Job Growth (2016-2026)7% (all drafters)*
Median Salary (2017)$54,170 (all drafters)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Do CAD Drafters Do All Day?

CAD drafters work at a computer using computer aided design/drafting software to create technical drawings used by manufacturers and builders to make products and buildings. For instance, say an architect, engineer or designer has an idea for a new product. The designer will typically provide the drafter a rough sketch of the idea and the drafter will add all the necessary details required to make the product. Material used, detailed dimensions, joinery, finishes used, manufacturing procedures and all other details of the item must be specified on the drawings to ensure that the fabulous new product may be efficiently produced. In today's increasingly technical world the drafter may need to ensure that the CAD drawing can be used by a CAM (computer aided manufacturing) system.

What Kind of Education or Certification Do CAD Drafters Need?

Typically, but not always, CAD drafters will need a two year associate's degree or a certificate from a technical or community college. Training in major CAD software systems is necessary. These systems may offer certification on the use of their products which, while not necessarily required, may be helpful in demonstrating expertise on the use of that particular software. Optional certifications are available for drafters through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) in various specialty areas.

What is the Job Outlook?

Between 2016 and 2026 jobs for drafters in general are expected to grow about 7%. Location will affect this, with manufacturing hubs likely offering more opportunities for employment. Drafters with CAD training may have some of the best opportunities, according to the BLS.

Where Do CAD drafters work?

Most CAD drafters will work in an architectural, manufacturing or design office. CAD drafters can also work remotely from their place of employment or client. So, you can be drafting a cool, new product while sitting in a coffee shop by the beach while the manufacturer could be anywhere in the world. Remote work will require the drafter to have a fast, up-to-date CAD compatible computer with one or more CAD software systems, as well as knowledge of how to use remote communication technologies.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Industrial designers, architects, surveyors, and engineers typically earn more than drafters and also require more education and work experience. Some of these careers also call for a professional license. All these occupations require at least a bachelor's degree.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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