Drafting pens in hand, drafters used to hunch over their work, doing it all by hand. With the introduction of computer-aided drafting, CAD drafters now input the design information and data from their calculations into the drafting package on their computer. Using this data and the drafter's calculations, the CAD software produces the finished drawings. As drafters' primary skills have moved away from mechanical drawing to technology, they may take on other responsibilities.
The ability to operate a computer-aided drafting system is the first skill a CAD drafter must have. Because the drafter must follow the employer's instructions, active listening and reading comprehension are essential. The drafter must have the critical thinking skills to communicate specific concerns, time management skills to ensure drafting projects are completed on time and superior math skills. Although the CAD software solves many problems, some inputs, such as the calculations for the curve of a road, must be added.
The CAD drafter operates the computer-aided drafting system to produce the drawings, designs, records or charts needed for a project, from conceptual drawings to the finished design. These include the drawings, detail drawings, materials lists, specifications and other required data, such as authorization checklists. The CAD drafter ensures these meet the requirements of the design specifications and any applicable codes. Drafters lay out detail drawings that clarify specific features.
The drafter obtains the necessary information, including required drawing types and specifics to complete the drafting project. This can include visits to a work site, production facility or research into local requirements. If multiple drafters work on one project, a drafter may coordinate and supervise the work of other drafters. Drafters may also act as their employer’s representative under a variety of circumstances, such as offsite visits or to gather additional data.
The position doesn't require a degree. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 68 percent have a degree, 20 percent have some college and 8 percent have neither degree nor college training of any kind. Whatever the educational level of the practitioner, an understanding of science, engineering, math and technology is needed. Strong computer skills help the aspiring CAD drafter, as well.
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images