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What Does a CAD Drafter Do?

By Andy Josiah
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A CAD drafter is a professional trained to produce technical drawings, documents or plans using computer systems and software. CAD is an acronym for computer-aided design, and sometimes computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) is used. Since production of anything requires a significant measure of planning, CAD drafters can be found in a diverse array of industries. A CAD drafter is armed with several types of knowledge areas and skills, which include drawing, computer and engineering technology, science, and drafting standards and techniques.

The most defining tool that a CAD drafter uses is a personal computer or a CADD system. This is where the professional creates the technical drawings, either in two-dimensional (2D) or three-dimensional (3D) form, using certain software. Perhaps the best known software application in the CAD industry is AutoCAD, which was launched by United States design technology company Autodesk, Inc. in 1982 as one of the first programs that could run on PCs. These drawings may also include documentation that describes the specification of the product, steps required in producing the item, or the materials to be used for its manufacture. The data is stored in the computer system so that the CAD drafter, as well as people using them, can view, print or edit it according to changing requirements.

Since CAD drafters can be found in any area that concerns the production of items, there are a variety of specializations. Architectural CAD drafters make architectural drawings for architects to use to realize their building projects. Civil CAD drafters concentrate on drawings for civil engineering projects, which include bridges, roads, and sewage systems. Other types of CAD drafters include aeronautical CAD drafters, who produce plans for the design and manufacture of aircraft; and electronics CAD drafters, who come up with the outlines for electronic devices such as microprocessors and digital multimedia players.

Regarding education and training, a CAD drafter usually goes for an associate’s degree, which might be called CAD, CADD or drafting technology, among other terms. Some programs are specialized; for instance, there is an associate’s degree program in AutoCAD. The associate’s CAD drafting program, which is designed for completion in two years, is traditionally offered at technical schools or community colleges. Community colleges in particular might offer general educational requirements that include subject areas such as mathematics and English composition. Although the four-year bachelor’s degree equivalent is rarer, getting one might boost one’s chances of getting hired or earnings potential since it represents a higher level of knowledge.

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