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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

  • $46,165

    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
Engineer Architect Architectural Designer
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Architectural Drafter Architectural Designer Project Architect
Assistant Construction Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Mechanical Designer Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Quality Control Inspector Quality Assurance Specialist Document Control Coordinator
Document Control Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Designer Design Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Senior Manufacturing Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Estimator Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Operations Manager Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Design Drafter Designer Interior Designer
Interior Designer/Project Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Draftsman/Designer Drafter
Lead Drafter
5 Yearsyrs
Designer Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Draftsman/Designer Mechanical Design Engineer Mechanical Engineering Manager
Mechanical Engineering Director
11 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Computer Aided Design Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Design Manager
Project Manager/Design Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Computer Aided Design Designer Project Manager/Design Manager
Senior Designer/Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Architectural Drafter Drafter
Senior Drafter
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Computer Aided Drafter?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Senior Drafter 4.9 years
Lead Drafter 4.7 years
Computer Drafter 4.5 years
Draftsman/Designer 4.2 years
Computer Designer 4.1 years
Design Drafter 3.9 years
Draftsperson 3.7 years
Draftsman 3.7 years
Autocad Operator 3.5 years
Autocad Drafter 3.0 years
Detail Drafter 2.9 years
Drafting Engineer 2.8 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Electrical Drafter 2.7 years
Cadd Drafter 2.7 years
Contract-Drafter 1.8 years
Top Employers Before
Drafter 12.6%
Draftsman 4.8%
Designer 4.3%
Internship 3.3%
Technician 1.9%
Top Employers After
Designer 8.2%
Drafter 6.8%
Engineer 3.1%
Owner 2.5%

Do you work as a Computer Aided Drafter?

Computer Aided Drafter Demographics

Gender

Male

72.7%

Female

25.3%

Unknown

2.0%
Ethnicity

White

59.7%

Hispanic or Latino

18.0%

Black or African American

9.7%

Asian

8.4%

Unknown

4.2%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

55.1%

French

6.3%

Arabic

6.3%

Chinese

3.9%

Vietnamese

3.1%

Mandarin

3.1%

Russian

3.1%

Italian

3.1%

Portuguese

2.4%

German

2.4%

Hindi

1.6%

Serbian

1.6%

Urdu

1.6%

Polish

1.6%

Swahili

0.8%

Indonesian

0.8%

Hawaiian

0.8%

Ukrainian

0.8%

Bosnian

0.8%

Turkish

0.8%
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Computer Aided Drafter Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

12.6%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

10.1%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

5.6%

Houston Community College

5.1%

Long Beach City College

5.1%

Ferris State University

4.5%

Pennsylvania State University

4.5%

Orange Coast College

4.5%

Austin Community College

4.5%

ITT Technical Institute - Indianapolis

4.0%

Mesa Community College - Boswell

4.0%

Glendale Community College

4.0%

York Technical Institute

4.0%

University of Massachusetts - Lowell

4.0%

Porter and Chester Institute

4.0%

Camden County College

4.0%

Drexel University

4.0%

Lawrence Technological University

4.0%

California State Polytechnic University - Pomona

3.5%

ITT Technical Institute-Norwood (Massachusetts)

3.5%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

40.4%

Architecture

8.2%

Mechanical Engineering

6.7%

Business

5.8%

Civil Engineering

4.3%

Graphic Design

4.2%

Interior Design

3.3%

Engineering

3.3%

Electrical Engineering

3.0%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

2.6%

Computer Science

2.2%

Industrial Technology

2.2%

Architectural Technology

1.9%

Construction Management

1.9%

Project Management

1.8%

Education

1.7%

Engineering Technology

1.7%

Architectural Engineering

1.7%

Computer Information Systems

1.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.5%
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Degrees

Associate

31.8%

Bachelors

27.1%

Other

26.2%

Certificate

7.4%

Masters

5.1%

Diploma

2.0%

Doctorate

0.3%

License

0.0%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
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

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  1. Autocad
  2. CAD Drafter
  3. Layout Drawings
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Updated and organized civil engineering drawings of water systems using AutoCAD.
  • Supervised a drafting department of CAD drafters and submitted work performed by department on a daily basis to the Lead Architect.
  • Work directly with external resources, end-users, technicians and engineers to provide conceptual layout drawings for facilities and equipment.
  • Implemented system to convert Manual-Drawings to CAD-Drawings Drew Structural plans: foundation, floor, ceiling and roof framing plans.
  • Reviewed existing machinery/equipment placement, and created digital floor plans to illustrate efficient space utilization using CAD software.

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Top 10 Best States for Computer Aided Drafters

  1. New Mexico
  2. Washington
  3. Arizona
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Colorado
  6. Minnesota
  7. Texas
  8. Alaska
  9. Louisiana
  10. South Carolina
  • (15 jobs)
  • (64 jobs)
  • (82 jobs)
  • (24 jobs)
  • (62 jobs)
  • (57 jobs)
  • (161 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (16 jobs)
  • (33 jobs)

Top Computer Aided Drafter Employers

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Jobs From Top Computer Aided Drafter Employers

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