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How to Become a CAD Drafter

If you have excellent drafting skills, becoming an AutoCAD drafter is a great career choice for you. AutoCAD drafters specialize in creating Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models using AutoCAD software. Those who are detail oriented, creative, and have a couple of years of drafting experience have the tools to be successful as an AutoCAD drafter. This role entails creating high-level design models that meet all the specifications of the client.

CAD drafters work closely with architects and engineers to design and create 2D and 3D computer models of buildings and machine parts from blueprints or from scratch that meet exact specifications. As a CAD drafter, you will be responsible for ensuring the plans are technically sound and correct. With an eye for aesthetics, good project management skills, and excellent communications skills, you can excel in this career.

Sample job description

Without the help of creative CAD drafters, engineers and architects would have a hard time creating and manufacturing various products and buildings. CAD drafters essentially use different software to draft designs and create digital drawings based on the work engineers and architects come up with. These designs and drawings are then used to guide manufacturers and builders to create products and buildings.

[Your Company Name] is looking for an experienced CAD drafter that can gather various notes and turn that information into an amazing creation. If you are great with technology and have an inventive mindset, you would make an ideal candidate for our CAD drafter position at our company.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Draft architectural designs, primarily using computer-aided design (CAD)
  • Collect and synthesize all data necessary for drafts
  • Perform 3-D design
  • Prepare documents
  • Research related code, building, and zoning requirements
  • Attend project and on-site meetings and reviews
  • Review accuracy and ensure the quality of deliverables
  • Meet deadlines
  • Work closely with architects throughout the construction process

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Ability to perform taskProficiency in AutoCAD and related software applications
  • Well-developed technical abilities
  • Sense of urgency to meet deadlines
  • Expertise in collaboration
  • Familiarity with Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office Suite
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • Work collaboratively with the project team
  • Create models out of rough sketches and walks in the field
  • Maintain current as-built drawing database
  • Bachelor’s degree in related field

Typical work environment

CAD drafters can work in a variety of different industries, including architectural, engineering, electrical, and civil drafting. Most CAD drafters stay in a specific industry since they are all unique and typically require different skill sets and software knowledge. Most of the time CAD drafters are working on computers in an office. However, they will occasionally leave to meet up with architects and engineers to collaborate on different projects.

Typical hours

The typical work hours for a CAD drafter are from 9 AM to 5 PM, generally in an office setting, with after-hours or weekend hours as needed.

Available certifications

Most companies searching for a CAD drafter want their candidates to have already completed a CAD certification. Check out the following available certifications: 

  • Fundamentals of Graphic Design Certification. There are several trade schools and colleges that offer this certification to their students. Earning this certification will allow participants to explore visual design principles for creating content and communicating different messages. This course would be ideal for anyone wondering if they would be interested in becoming a CAD drafter since graphic design plays a crucial part in their role as a CAD drafter. 
  • Computer-aided Design and Drafting (CADD). Earning the CADD certification is undeniably the most important step in becoming a CAD drafter. The CADD allows students to gain valuable skills in different software and modeling of mechanical components to help them succeed in their future position as CAD drafters. Students will also learn different computation skills needed to solve various problems that come up while designing different products and buildings, which helps employers know that they are prepared and have the information needed to work well as a CAD drafter.

Career path

Becoming a CAD drafter typically requires a bachelor’s degree in architecture or a related field. Students should take courses in mathematics, science, drawing, and design. Earning a professional drafting certification can help forward a career as a CAD drafter.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-3010

2020 Employment191,800
Projected Employment in 2030188,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 2% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift3,600 decrease

The increased construction activity should drive demand for CAD drafters, but this might be somewhat tempered in some instances by engineers and architects starting to perform drafting tasks.