Is CAD Drafting A Good Career?

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If you love using computers but also love drawing and art, then a career in drafting and design allows you to combine these two skills. Computer-aided drafting and design enable drafters to produce technical drawings that provide accurate visual guidelines of the structure. These drawings will include specific technical details, including dimensions, materials, and procedures.

They are drawn according to calculations made by architects, surveyors, engineers, or even scientists. These drawings don’t just relate to buildings but are used to construct just about anything you care to think of, from skyscrapers to microchips. The drawings produced during drafting and design can be stored electronically, printed, or even programmed directly into an automated manufacturing system.

Drafting is smack dab in the middle of the two niches of the art design and technical work. Most people who find themselves torn between their creative side and their analytical side find that this is the perfect compromise. Drafting, or more specifically computer-aided drafting, is the practice of creating technical drawings to provide visual information and specifications for a structure, machine, or any other type of assembly. The produced blueprints will often include details such as dimensions, finishes, assembly instructions, and materials.

Most drafting professionals work in the design, construction, or surveying industries. This goes to show how vital a role it plays in modern development, but just how viable is it to get into this career track these days? Looking for dual occupancy? Look no further! MJS Construction Group has you covered. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the specifics of the job – from the training to the estimated payments. Hopefully, by the end, you’ll have figured out if this is the right career path for you.

A Quick Look At The Numbers

Following a steady increase since the conception of CAD drafting as a career option, the demand has started to go down recently and is continuing its steady decline. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment growth rate of drafting professionals is below average at a projected 6% in the next decade.

This seems to be counterintuitive what with all the development and manufacturing work done around the world gaining more and more steam. This is all due to the growing technological literacy rate for most of the emerging young professionals in the manufacturing and design fields.

There’s less demand for specialized drafters and more demand for those that have multiple specialties, such as young architectural designers who also have drafting skills. This isn’t even putting into account the development of the CAD, drafting, and modelling technologies making their use so much easier than ever before. With the learning curves of this software getting easier to manage, a lot of even the older design and manufacturing professionals have found themselves learning how to use them.

And so employers have started putting a premium in professionals in their field who also have drafting know-how. Not only is it more efficient to hire in-house, but it is also better for the drafter to be knowledgeable of the diagram they are drafting, to be better at spotting errors and creating more intuitive and easily understandable technical drawings.

There’s still some hope, though. On paper, it seems that letting engineers and architects multitask as drafters isn’t as profitable as it may first seem. These construction and design professionals do their best work focusing on their specialties and overseeing the details. In that vein, specialized drafters would still be valuable in the market.

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What is Drafting?

Drafting has been around for thousands of years. Stone tablets dating back to 4,000 BC have been found with drawings of fortresses on them, according to UEN.org. Some of the greatest artists and scientists of all time were using drafting techniques to create, including Leonardo Da Vinci. They used their drawings to graphically represent real things, ideas, and proposed designs for the creation of mechanisms and buildings. The drafting career field is still alive and booming today, with over 250,000 different drafting jobs filled in the US market over the past two years.

CAD Software: The Biggest Change to Drafting Industry Ever

CAD or CADD software (Computer Aided Drafting) or (Computer Aided Drafting and Design) has revolutionized the drafting industry over the last decade. Draftsmen must be skilled in this software to go anywhere in the industry. CADD software allows draftsmen to create plans and drawings on the computer that are used in industries from medicine and forensics to construction and manufacturing. These drawings serve as graphic guidelines to show how a building or object should be made. They can include both technical and dimensional information, along with materials needed and procedures to follow as a project is built. MJS Construction Group has the best range of dual occupancy builder services to help you create your dream house.

Learning CAD or CADD Software

Important things to know when learning CAD software:

  • You need to obtain your Drafting and CADD or Design Technology training from an accredited institution. Colleges generally offer diploma programs (1 year to 18 months) and associate’s degrees in Drafting and CADD (2 years). Employers prefer associate’s degree holders.
  • The best CADD software programs include Auto-CAD, Inventor, NX, Solid Works, REVIT and pro/engineer software.
  • Find out what type of drafting you want to specialize in and what specific CAD software companies use and learn it.
  • Be willing to continually update your technical knowledge and software skills because new technologies are always coming down the pipeline.

The Drafting Personality Type

Drafting isn’t a born skill. It’s something that takes time and patience to learn. Strong draftspeople should possess the following skills and personality traits:

  • Excellent visualization skills, especially in three-dimensional forms
  • High degree of accuracy and ability to see fine details
  • Strong understanding of building materials and their uses
  • Ability to make quick revisions, track changes and organize work
  • Ability to take supervision well
  • Self-motivator with enterprise and the ability to constantly learn new things
  • Team player, committed to helping others complete projects

Top Drafting Specialties Today

It’s already been mentioned, but a skilled draftsperson can find a job in a huge variety of industries from the automotive and medical industries to aviation and even multimedia design. Some of the top specialty areas where CADD is used include:

  • Architectural drafters – prepare drawings for architectural features in buildings for construction projects.
  • Aeronautical drafters – prepare detailed drawings for specifications and plans used in making missiles or aeroplanes and their parts.
  • Electrical drafters – prepare diagrams of wiring and layout used in making, repairing or installing electrical wiring and appliances in power plants, communication centres and buildings.
  • Electronics drafters – prepare circuit board assembly and wiring diagrams, schematics and layout drawings used in making, repairing and installing electronic equipment.
  • Civil drafters – prepare drawings of the topography of an area which are used for civil engineering projects such as sewage systems, pipelines, bridges, floodways, highways and dams, etc.
  • Pipeline drafters – prepare drawings used in construction, layout and operation of gas and oil fields, chemical plants, refineries and piping systems.
  • Mechanical drafters – prepare drawings that show the method of assembly and details of devices and machinery.

Getting the Best Drafting Jobs & Overcoming Technology Hurdles

When it comes to getting the best drafting jobs, drafting professionals recommend taking your time to ensure you’re getting the right software skills and experience needed before taking the job plunge. Todd Morey, a post-secondary vocational instructor of the Architectural Design Program at Palm Beach Community College’s Lake Worth campus, said: “The people who get the best jobs are those who are well-rounded in their trade. They not only are up-to-date on the latest computer programs, but they also understand the architectural and engineering aspects of the profession. I would say the biggest challenge for today’s drafting students is to stay on top of the new technology and building codes. Every county has a different building code, so you need to modify your drawings based on whom you are drawing it.”

A Timeless Career

Many professionals in the drafting world are taking on responsibilities that have traditionally been performed by engineers and architects. The drafters with the best chance for great careers in the future will be those with high CADD software and technology skills. The future of the industry is in computers. If you’re looking for a career with a strong past and a secure and growing future, drafting is the career for you.

CAD drafters specialize in the use of computer-aided design software to create schemes and technical drawings. Their purpose is to produce a visual guideline towards how something will be made, through detailed dimensions, procedures, and materials.

The designs are done following a set of norms and technical specifications that serve a purpose for the further understanding of anyone reading the schemes.

Drafters are a key component required in both the manufacturing and building industries, but can also be found in electrical design where they map out electrical wiring diagrams.

Many universities, community colleges and technical schools offer CAD drafting classes. Still, there are technical colleges that offer a focused approach to CADD learning, with the aim of specializing in a specific task. This is fine from the point of view of simply operating the software, but it doesn’t convey the importance of the full understanding of the engineering behind the design.

CADD As A Career

Given the constant evolution of CADD, and its efficiency, the requirement for drafters in the workforce is steadily declining, and according to the BLS (US Bureau of Labor Statistics), the employment growth rate of drafters is projected to be around 6% in the next decade. That’s below average.

But why? How is it possible that drafters are such an important component of the design, and there’s so little demand for them?

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Currently, most professionals in the engineering and architectural disciplines, are educated on the drafting and usage of CAD software. As technological culture advances, all of us are being raised in the computer age, so all professionals are getting better at handling technical software, thus relieving some firms of having to hire specialized drafters to do that part of the job. Another factor to consider is that having a proper understanding of your model while going through the drafting process is an advantage and a safer guarantee of a design that matches your requirements and specifications.

Most managers think that letting engineers and architects do the drafting themselves is more profitable, but we have found that that is not necessarily the case. Not all engineers and architects have the skills to be efficient at drafting, and they are more cost-effective, focusing on their area of specialty. At the same time, a CAD drafter works on developing the schematics required for the project. Some drafters even get to learn a good deal about their respective fields and tend to acquire high amounts of knowledge and understanding due to the design process.

So, Where Does That Leave Drafters?

As the demand for jobs grows less than the number of CAD drafters in the marketplace, the competition will get stronger, and it will be a must that as a drafter you gather all the expertise and knowledge you can get in your particular industry, not only as a drawer but also as a designer. It will also become important to make sure you are skilful, efficient, and able to produce value for your company on a level that most architects and engineers won’t be able to.

If there’s a large number of layouts to be produced, it’s always going to be more advisable to a firm to hire a specialized drafter, than to pay a licensed professional to do that job. If you need expert drafters, you can find them here! At J-CAD Inc. we’ll put our services and experience to work for you!

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

Some 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 to create schematics that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into building information modelling (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.

What Kind of Training Is Needed for a Career in Drafting and Design?

The minimum qualification is two years post-secondary school training in drafting, which is offered by community colleges, technical institutes, and also in some colleges and universities. If you are thinking about this type of career, then it may be worthwhile contacting prospective employers to ask which qualifications they favour.

The type of training offered by technical institutes tends to be quite intensive, while the education in community colleges tends to be a little more generalized. They will include more classes in drafting theory and the general education but have the advantage that courses completed here are likely to be accepted as credit for courses at four-year colleges.

You may wish to complete a two-year associate degree program and then try to find a job as a drafter, or you can choose to go on and continue your education at a four-year college. If you choose this second option, then be well aware a majority of four-year colleges don’t offer drafting training. Still, they will have courses in architecture, engineering, and mathematics which are important skills within this field.

There’s no doubt that drafting and design is an exciting career choice, and the job outlook is pretty good, especially for those choosing to specialize in architectural and civil drafting. They should also be good prospects for anyone choosing to specialize in engineering or electronics, as the designs for new products are becoming increasingly complex. The job prospects are better for anyone who has proven technical skills and experience with computer-aided design systems. This career is likely to be very sensitive to changes within the economy as it is tied to construction and manufacturing.

How Much Does It Pay?

Salary can vary between drafters, and this all depends on their specialties, place of work, and levels of experience. The median salary as of 2019 is $55,550 with architectural design and engineering draftsmen earning the lowest and electronic and electrical draftsmen earning the most.

Most drafters have the usual 40-hour workweek working in offices or at home remotely. Some employers also sponsor the continuing education of drafters with some of them going on to become engineers, architects, and licensed technicians.

It’s worth noting that the market for drafters is getting more and more saturated by the year and the demand is fairly strong due to the increasing amount of developments and manufacturing all over the globe. Yet as we mentioned before, there’s less demand for just drafters and a steady increase in demand for drafters that also double as engineers or designers. To make any good money out of a job, drafters will have to stand out and so to have specialties or to get expertise on other non-drafting jobs will help nab you a niche in the market.

So in short, to get better pay offers for your services, learn to get better at drafting, but also learn to leverage other skills to make yourself unique and desirable to companies. Finding the right Melbourne home builders  is an important decision. Check out our range of the best home design constructions at MJS Construction Group.

Conclusion

If you’re good at technical visualization and have a knack for understanding and jotting down measurements and details, drafting is no doubt going to be interesting work for you. Additionally, if you’re looking to be an engineer or architect, being a drafter is a good jumping-off point that would earn you enough money on the side to fund further education.

For either case, it will be important for potential drafters to get a decent understanding of the subject matter they would be drafting about. But suppose you’re worried about the potential reduction of demand for drafters. In that case, you don’t need to be – for as long as information has to be relayed about the manufacturing process or construction, drafters will always be sought out. 

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