Design Trends

How to Start a Career as a CAD Drafter

How to Start a Career as a CAD Drafter

The world is becoming more technically advanced day by day. So, it makes sense to ensure tech is part of your future career in some way or another. However, a lot of people don't necessarily want to be heavily involved in using IT in their daily jobs. Perhaps the idea of spending your days focusing on software testing or talking about SD-WAN features just doesn't appeal to you.

Maybe instead you dream of being creative. It might be that you want to spend your days drawing but feel like in an ever-evolving tech world, making a move like that would be like going from email to fax -- you just feel like you would be taking a step back technologically.

Luckily, today, the way we use tech isn't just about trying to find the best IT solutions for small business or telling an enterprise how they will benefit from scrum. Technology is used in pretty much every industry now. That includes the creative industries. In fact, one of the best roles out there to combine technology with a love of drawing is CAD drafter.

CAD is a great way to learn about software, boost your CV, and get ahead in the design game.

What is CAD?

CAD (Computer-Aided Design) has a huge impact on the world around us. It is the use of computer software to draft digital blueprints and diagrams for floor plans, 3D design, mechanical designs, and even electronic schematics. That means every modern building, every modern vehicle, and every product design needs CAD in one way or another.

CAD is a versatile and modern way of working that combines design with software. Just because a CAD drafter works with software, it doesn't mean they will be dealing with PaaS examplesSaaS, or other types of well-known software. They work in their own unique way and use modern software to draw up complex designs or projects.

As we ask ourselves more and more about what the future will look like, CAD drafters will become a bigger part of many firms' lives. Making a CAD drafter a truly progressive and sought-after job.

How to Start a Career as a CAD Drafter- CAD design challenges

Source: Solid Edge

Types of CAD Drafters

A CAD drafter is simply a person who uses CAD software to create 2D drawings and 3D models. Therefore, exceptional drawing skills are an absolute must if you want to explore this particular career. The rest of your skillset can be developed or learned through time. There are plenty of top project management tools that can help with keeping on top of work and communicating with teammates. But you must be able to draw!

A CAD drafter still requires a range of skills and their day is full of variation. However, one of the best points about being a CAD drafter is that it doesn't necessarily require years of training.

There are many roles that CAD drafters can take on. Keep reading to find out where CAD drafters can specialize and the education they need for each role.

Technical Illustrator

A person in this role will visually communicate technical information. This role typically requires a degree in illustration or requires having some field experience. If you have a strong portfolio or a lot of on-the-job experience, employers may hire you without a degree.

Architectural Designer

This job involves preparing structural designs for new buildings. As a designer, it's your job to also discuss the materials used and the building type. The common route is doing a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, in architecture or similar, and building experience from there. You must also have at least a three-year internship under your belt.

Civil Drafters

These are people who layout designs for civil engineering projects such as bridges or highways. Some firms may require an official degree received from a technical school or community college. However, some colleges do offer shorter training programs for this role, too.

Mechanical Drafters

A mechanical drafter draws up the plans for machinery. Having an Associate's Degree will help you to learn about the technical problem solving needed for this role. Classes such as science technology can be taken in high school to help prepare for this job. Technical colleges may also have intensive fast-track courses, too.

Electronics Drafters

This role involves creating technical drawings for maintenance and repair. Most people get an Associate's Degree from a community college for this job. These programs are quite rare, though, and so may be linked with another similar course. Or they may only be available as a Bachelor's Degree.

How to Start a Career as a CAD Drafter- Exploded-views-3

What Skills needed for a career in CAD drafting

The area in which you want to work will determine the precise skills you need. However, there are some general skills that all CAD drafters will require. This section will discuss these core skills.

An understanding of geometry

It isn't enough to know shapes, you need to love them. You will need to have great spatial and geometrical awareness as you need to hold angles and create 2D and 3D shapes in your mind. You must also have detail-orientated thinking to be precise and accurate. Depending on your specialism you might also need a good grounding in maths.

You Must Love Understanding How Things Work

If you love thinking about how things are constructed and spent your childhood holding a screwdriver and a disassembled television in your hands, then maybe a career in CAD drafting is for you! The ability to be able to imagine how something comes apart and goes back together is essential. You will essentially be drawing up anything the engineer tells you to. So, as well as being able to draw with precision and being able to think technically, you must also be able to follow strict rules and follow regulations accurately. Ultimately, you need to have the skills to make any project understandable to others.

Ability to Use a Range of Software

Remember that this job is different to other modern tech jobs. You won't have to learn to use a cloud based phone system or become an expert in AI. But it is still a very tech-based role and a huge part of this is learning how to use various pieces of design software. Each company will use different software, and getting to grips with what's out there will help you get further. Having drawing skills with an edge in accuracy will make sure that you can provide perfect results, no matter which software you use.

Be able to work independently

This is important, as you need the focus and dedication to last through projects. Independent work also requires excellent communication skills as you need to be able to discuss projects in depth and let teammates know you understand your role. But don't worry, as we keep on working on creating a remote future, there are plenty of modern ways to communicate with teammates and get your ideas across.

How to Start a Career as a CAD Drafter- messy desk

Source: Unsplash

How to Start a Career as a CAD Drafter

If after reading this, you feel this is the job for you, then you may now be wondering how to get into the field. The following will tell you step by step how to land that dream job.

Take a CAD course

After you have decided on the field you want to join, taking a CAD course will ensure you know all about the software you will need. It means you can learn all the basics and jargon you need to know. You can either do this by yourself or by enrolling in a course. There are also plenty of online resources available to help you learn how to use CAD software packages.

Apply for a degree, internship, or apprenticeship

There are options for either long or short courses to help you get to grips with everything. Internships and apprenticeships are the best way to get first-hand experience in the field. They will help you to get to know the standards of the industry you want to become a drafter for.

Take time to choose specializations that interest you

This allows you to be more decisive and purposeful in choosing job opportunities and taking on projects. It also means that you will end up doing a job you love, rather than ones you feel like you have to do. Can you work for a company that designs buildings? Or would you prefer to be drafting images for machinery?

Network for connections

Having high levels of communication and being willing to make connections means you will be able to find people in relevant fields who will quickly open you up to new opportunities.

Build your portfolio

When working towards a career in CAD drafting, make sure that you always have a portfolio that you are working on along the way, too. Establish your credibility as a CAD drafter by using your previous work as references when new job opportunities come along.

Create a website

Make yourself and your work accessible to potential clients with your website. Make it easy to navigate and try your best to make it stand out, at the same time as keeping it professional. If you have done work you are particularly proud of through your technical drawings whilst at college, put it on your website. If you have drawn up building plans during your internship, put it on your website, too. Make a picture for potential employees of the work you have done.


With the increased demand for digitally-versed professionals, working as a CAD drafter is a job of the future. But it's not like working with call center solutions or being a teacher.  Becoming a CAD drafter stands alone. It requires a lot of discipline and hard work to stay competitive in this fast-growing field, but it is worth it!

It a versatile and creative career. What's more, is that you can choose to get into it as quickly as you wish with a short course, or spend more time training and building up experience.

If this is an area you would like to get into, then why not start researching now? Before you know it, you can be an expert.

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