These can include dimensions and technical details, the materials needed or procedures. The drafter fills in the calculations, rough sketches, and specifications made by architects, engineers, scientists, or surveyors. By using CAD systems a drafter creates and stores drawings electronically for viewing, printing or programming directly into an automated production line. A CAD system also allows drafters to easily and quickly make variations to the design.
There are several CAD career specialties of which are:
1. Aeronautical Drafters – prepares drawings detailing specifications and plans used in making aircraft or missiles and their parts.
2. Architectural Drafters – prepares drawings of the architectural features in buildings for construction projects.
3. Civil Drafters – prepares drawings of the topography of an area which are used for civil engineering projects like bridges, dams, floodways, highways, sewage systems and pipelines.
4. Electrical Drafters – prepares the diagrams of wiring and layout used by the workers in making, installing or repairing electrical appliances and wirings in buildings, communications centers, and power plants.
5. Electronics Drafters – prepare circuit board assembly and wiring diagrams, layout drawings and schematics used in the making, repair and installation of electronic equipment.
6. Mechanical Drafters – prepares drawings that show the method of assembly and details of machinery and devices.
7. Pipeline Drafters – prepares drawings that are used in the construction, layout and the operation of chemical plants, gas and oil fields, refineries, as well as process piping systems.
To qualify for a CAD job you will need training in CAD drafting and design technology which usually includes completing specialized engineering subjects at an accredited academic institution. Many of these institutions offer design and drafting certifications but most employers require a bachelor’s degree for applicants. You can also earn an online CAD degree but only as an associate degree where you are taught how to use CAD software to create, edit, render, and manipulate 3D objects. CAD software you might learn to use includes AutoCAD, inventor, pro/engineer, NX, REVIT, and Solid Works. You are also taught traditional manual drafting and drafting concepts. Online subjects include subjects in blueprint schematics, geometric dimension and tolerance, electrical and electronic drafting, plastic parts design, cabling, piping, and sheet metal design. Those who have finished an associate degree course can use their credits if they decide to enroll in a bachelor’s degree course such as mechanical engineering and architecture.
Outlook for CAD employment is low with little job growth at 4 percent between 2008 and 2018. Of all types of CAD jobs civil and architectural drafting will have the fastest growth at 9 percent but in the other types of CAD jobs very little or no growth is expected. One reason for slow growth is that CAD software have become easier to use and are more powerful allowing other technical professionals to do the drafting themselves instead of having the organization hire dedicated CAD operators. Another reason is because many companies choose to outsource this work to cheaper labor in other countries. Employment opportunities are best for those who have at least 2 years training or experience with CAD systems. CAD systems have become powerful, creating new possibilities in drafting and design, but at the same time easier to handle. As this technology continues improve, companies will be more likely to employ drafters who have strong backgrounds in the primary principles of drafting, high levels of technical expertise and have the ability to apply their expertise to a broad range of responsibilities. The median annual wage for a CAD job varies according to specialty, geographical location, and responsibility level. It ranges from around $45,000 to $52,000.
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