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Become A Computer Aided Drafter

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Working As A Computer Aided Drafter

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $40,800

    Average Salary

What Does A Computer Aided Drafter Do

Drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Duties

Drafters typically do the following:

  • Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects
  • Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
  • Add details to architectural plans from their knowledge of building techniques
  • Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new products
  • Work under the supervision of engineers or architects

Many drafters are referred to as CAD operators. Using CAD systems, drafters create and store technical drawings digitally. These drawings contain information on how to build a structure or machine, the dimensions of the project, and what materials are needed to complete the project.

Drafters work with CAD so they can create schematics that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into building information modeling (BIM) systems. These systems allow drafters, architects, construction managers, and engineers to create and collaborate on digital models of physical buildings and machines. Through three-dimensional rendering, BIM software allows designers and engineers to see how different elements in their projects work together.

Architectural drafters draw architectural and structural features of buildings for construction projects. These workers may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. They may also specialize by the materials used, such as steel, wood, or reinforced concrete.

Civil drafters prepare topographical maps used in construction and civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, and flood-control projects.

Electrical drafters prepare wiring diagrams that other construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in power plants, electrical distribution systems, and residential and commercial buildings.

Electronics drafters produce wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams for circuit boards, and layout drawings used in manufacturing and in installing and repairing electronic devices and components.

Mechanical drafters prepare layouts that show the details for a wide variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices, such as medical equipment. These layouts indicate dimensions, fastening methods, and other requirements needed for assembly. Mechanical drafters sometimes create production molds.

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How To Become A Computer Aided Drafter

Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate’s degree in drafting.

Education

Drafters generally need to complete postsecondary education in drafting. This is typically done through a 2-year associate’s degree from a technical institute or community college.

Technical institutes offer instruction in design fundamentals, sketching, and CAD (computer-aided design) software and award certificates or diplomas upon completion. Programs vary in length but are generally 2 years of full-time education. The types of courses offered will also vary by institution. Some institutions may specialize in only one type of drafting, such as mechanical or architectural drafting.

Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes that lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or related degree. After completing an associate’s degree program, graduates may get jobs as drafters or continue their education in a related field at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer training in drafting, but they do offer classes in engineering, architecture, and mathematics.

To prepare for postsecondary education, high school students who take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and where available, drafting, may find such classes useful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. Although not mandatory, certification demonstrates competence and knowledge of nationally recognized practices. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings that will guide the creation of real buildings, tools, and systems.

Detail oriented. Drafters must pay close attention to details so that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications.

Interpersonal skills. Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to take advice and constructive criticism, as well as to offer it.

Math skills. Drafters work on technical drawings. They may be required to solve mathematical calculations involving factors such as angles, weights, and costs.

Technical skills. Drafters in all specialties must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as BIM (building information modeling).

Time-management skills. Drafters often work under strict deadlines. As a result, they must work efficiently in order to produce the required output according to set schedules.

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Computer Aided Drafter jobs

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Computer Aided Drafter Career Paths

Computer Aided Drafter
Architectural Drafter Architectural Designer
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Programmer Machine Shop Supervisor Assembly Supervisor
Assembly Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Engineer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Coordinator Project Administrator Document Control Specialist
Document Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Designer Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Engineer Assistant Project Manager
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineer Architect Interior Designer
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Computer Aided Design Designer Designer
Senior Designer
6 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Senior Designer
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Architectural Drafter Drafter
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Designer Electrical Designer
Senior Electrical Designer
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Senior Manufacturing Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Mechanical Designer
Senior Mechanical Designer
11 Yearsyrs
Design Technician Designer Design Engineer
Senior Mechanical Engineer
11 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Mechanical Designer Piping Designer
Senior Piping Designer
12 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Senior Project Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Designer Project Engineer Operations Manager
Site Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Program Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Senior Drafter 5.0 years
Lead Drafter 4.7 years
Draftsman/Designer 4.4 years
Computer Drafter 4.0 years
Design Drafter 4.0 years
Draftsperson 3.6 years
Computer Aide 3.5 years
Draftsman 3.5 years
Autocad Operator 3.5 years
Structural Drafter 3.1 years
Autocad Drafter 3.0 years
Drafting Engineer 2.9 years
Autocad Draftsman 2.9 years
Electrical Drafter 2.9 years
Detail Drafter 2.8 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Assistant Drafter 2.3 years
Contract-Drafter 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Drafter 11.4%
Draftsman 4.5%
Designer 4.1%
Internship 3.1%
Engineer 2.0%
Top Employers After
Designer 7.4%
Drafter 6.1%
Engineer 2.9%
Owner 2.4%

Computer Aided Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

72.4%

Female

25.6%

Unknown

2.1%
Ethnicity

White

75.7%

Hispanic or Latino

13.6%

Asian

7.8%

Unknown

2.3%

Black or African American

0.6%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

57.1%

Arabic

6.4%

French

5.7%

Chinese

4.3%

Mandarin

3.6%

Italian

3.6%

Vietnamese

2.9%

German

2.9%

Russian

2.1%

Hindi

1.4%

Serbian

1.4%

Portuguese

1.4%

Urdu

1.4%

Polish

1.4%

Swahili

0.7%

Turkish

0.7%

Indonesian

0.7%

Hawaiian

0.7%

Ukrainian

0.7%

Bosnian

0.7%
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Computer Aided Drafter Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

14.4%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

10.6%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

5.8%

Houston Community College

5.3%

Long Beach City College

4.8%

Ferris State University

4.3%

Austin Community College

4.3%

Lawrence Technological University

4.3%

ITT Technical Institute - Indianapolis

3.8%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

3.8%

Mesa Community College - Boswell

3.8%

Pennsylvania College of Technology

3.8%

ITT Technical Institute-Norwood (Massachusetts)

3.8%

Glendale Community College

3.8%

Pennsylvania State University

3.8%

Orange Coast College

3.8%

Porter and Chester Institute

3.8%

Northern Arizona University

3.8%

Drexel University

3.8%

Iowa State University

3.8%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

39.4%

Architecture

8.4%

Mechanical Engineering

6.6%

Business

6.3%

Civil Engineering

4.4%

Graphic Design

4.1%

Interior Design

3.5%

Engineering

3.3%

Electrical Engineering

2.8%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.4%

Industrial Technology

2.3%

Computer Science

2.3%

Architectural Technology

2.1%

Engineering Technology

1.9%

Project Management

1.9%

Construction Management

1.9%

Education

1.7%

Architectural Engineering

1.7%

Computer Information Systems

1.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.5%
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Degrees

Associate

30.9%

Bachelors

27.8%

Other

25.8%

Certificate

7.3%

Masters

5.9%

Diploma

2.0%

Doctorate

0.3%

License

0.1%
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Internship
Temporary

Real Computer Aided Drafter Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior CAD Drafter ARUP North America Ltd. Chicago, IL Mar 01, 2013 $70,250 -
$85,250
CAD Drafter III Rivers & Christian Los Angeles, CA May 09, 2016 $60,000
Architectural CAD Drafter Jonathan Jang, Architect, Inc. Redwood City, CA Oct 02, 2012 $57,393
CAD Drafter/Steel Detailer D&M Steel, Inc. CA Nov 17, 2016 $52,042
CAD Drafter Steve Gambill-Shore/Form Systems Inc. Palmetto, FL Oct 29, 2009 $49,045
CAD Drafter Trinity EMCS Inc. Brentwood, CA Aug 25, 2015 $47,208
CAD Drafter Trinity EMCS Inc. Brentwood, CA Sep 15, 2014 $47,208
CAD Drafter Trinity EMCS Inc. Brentwood, CA Jun 01, 2012 $47,208
Associate CAD Drafter Cityproof Corp. Islandia, NY Jul 28, 2015 $45,240
CAD Drafter Jennison Quality Components, Inc. Carnegie, PA Jun 15, 2015 $41,740 -
$62,610
CAD Planner/Drafter G & S USA, Inc. Rockville, MD Sep 15, 2010 $40,000
CAD Drafter Denham-Blythe Company, Inc. Lexington, KY Jan 09, 2016 $39,374
Junior CAD Drafter Architectural Resources Collaborative Inc. Benicia, CA Aug 15, 2011 $37,500
Junior CAD Drafter Architectural Resources Collaborative Inc. Benicia, CA Sep 15, 2011 $37,500
Senior CAD Drafter Bob Snow Associates Palm Beach Gardens, FL Jun 04, 2015 $37,066
CAD Drafter E & E Consulting Engineers, Inc. Oakland Park, FL Sep 19, 2010 $37,000
GIS Manager-Cad Drafter JE Thompson, Inc. Gainesville, TX Mar 01, 2015 $35,479 -
$73,045
GIS Manager-Cad Drafter JE Thompson, Inc. Gainesville, TX Aug 01, 2015 $35,479 -
$73,045
Revit/Cad Architectural Drafter Method Studio, Inc. Salt Lake City, UT Sep 18, 2013 $32,161

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Top Skills for A Computer Aided Drafter

AutocadReleaseCADDrafterLayoutDrawingsArchitecturalDrawingsFloorPlansCADDrawingsSolidModelsAs-BuiltDrawingsHvacPAutodeskInventorAutoCADConstructionDrawingsSitePlansConstructionDocumentsBOMAssemblyDrawingsCNC3DDrawingsModelsDetailDrawings

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Top Computer Aided Drafter Skills

  1. Autocad Release
  2. CAD Drafter
  3. Layout Drawings
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Incorporate engineer drawing changes on AutoCad release 12 and 13.
  • Performed as CAD drafter, modeling 3-D parts for assemblies as well as creating top assemblies.
  • Work directly with external resources, end-users, technicians and engineers to provide conceptual layout drawings for facilities and equipment.
  • Created shop drawings of custom cabinets from architectural drawings for production.
  • Perform architectural and structural layout work, including preparation of framing plans, color layout plans, floor plans and elevations.

Top Computer Aided Drafter Employers