CAD Drafting Technologies

CAD drafting technologists work in partnership with architects, engineers and other professionals to create designs, drawings and plans for a variety of structures. Read on to learn more about areas of specialization, employment outlook, salaries and educational programs for CAD specialists.

Are CAD Drafting Technologies for Me?

Career Overview

A certificate or degree program in computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting technology can help you prepare for a position with an architecture firm, construction company, engineering firm or government organization. Based upon rough drawings submitted by architects and engineers, you'll use computer software to create technical renderings of commercial and residential buildings, overpasses, waterways or other structures. In addition to architecture, areas of specialization might include civil or mechanical drafting. You might also choose to focus on electrical and electronics drafting or pipeline drafting.

Career Options

As a formally trained CAD draftsman, you may be employed as a CAD manager or technician. You might also find employment as an aeronautical drafter, architectural technician or detail drafter.

Employment and Salary Information

Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected minimal to no change in employment for drafters in general between 2012 and 2022; however, prospects will vary according to specialty. For example, while employment of architectural and civil drafters is expected to remain stable, a 10% growth in jobs is projected for electrical and electronics drafters through 2022. During the same 10-year period, the number of openings for mechanical drafters is expected to decrease by 5%. As of May 2013, the average annual salary for architectural and civil drafters was $51,250, as reported by the BLS. In the same month, the average annual salary for a mechanical drafter was $54,510, while electrical and electronics drafters earned an average of $60,350 (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Work In CAD Drafting Technologies?

Educational Options

According to the BLS, employers prefer to hire candidates with postsecondary training in drafting, which can be found at community and technical colleges. If you're still in high school, you can begin preparing for a formal training program by taking classes in computer technology, geometry, algebra and physics. Undergraduate programs typically lead to a certificate or an associate degree in computer-aided drafting. Credits may be transferable to a bachelor's degree in CAD drafting. In addition to campus-based programs, some schools offer online CAD courses and online degrees.

Curriculum

In a CAD training program, you'll learn how to convert sketches into computer-generated technical drawings that are used by construction and architectural professionals. You'll also study construction procedures, ecological approaches, structural design technology and surveying. Courses in math, physics and materials science may also be included.

Required Skills

As an aspiring drafter, you should be artistic and detail-orientated; basic drawing skills are also essential. In this position, you'll be required to work with a variety of other professionals, so you'll also need good communication skills.

Certification

Although not required, voluntary certification is available through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). To gain certification, you'll need to pass an exam that tests your knowledge of drafting, drawing, mathematics, architectural terminology and other areas.

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