Computer-Aided Drafting and/or Design (CAD or CADD) technicians use special computer software programs to create drawings and sketches. They may draw objects ranging from buildings to sewer systems, or even minute electronics components. The term "drafter" or "drafting professional" may also be used to describe a CAD technician.
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CAD technicians work with the project designer to create a graphical representation of a new project. The architect, designer or engineer shares basic information about the project, and the CAD technician must figure out how to best translate this idea onto paper. Using computer design programs, drafters sketch the object from multiple angles. They include details about the object, including types of fasteners required, materials, features and dimensions.
The drawings created by CAD technicians show builders or manufacturers how a project/building should be constructed. These drawings can also help developers or investors understand what a finished product will look like before it is built.
Different types of CAD technicians may work in specialised fields. Architectural drafters develop blueprints of buildings, homes or interior design features. Civil drafters primarily sketch earthwork, roads and sewer systems. Electrical CAD technicians may draw a building's electrical system or the internal circuits within an electronic device. Mechanical drafters draw machinery, duct systems, cars, aerospace designs and other mechanical equipment.
Some CAD technicians may work in a variety of fields, while others choose to specialise on a specific type of project.
While CAD technicians primarily work on the computer, some drawing and artistic skills are helpful for preliminary sketches. Those looking for a career in this field should gain experience with CAD software, including the popular AutoCAD program, which is widely used by many drafters. CAD technicians should have a solid understanding of math and science, as well as some basic understanding of their technical speciality. For instance, architectural drafters should understand how a building is constructed, including types of materials, and why things are done in a certain order. They must also have good communication skills along with an eye for detail.
Many technical schools offer training in drafting and CAD software. These programs prepare the student not only to design with CAD, but often provide the technical skills to successfully communicate with designers and engineers about a project. Some two- or four-year colleges also offer degrees in CAD, drafting or design. The armed forces may also prepare applicants for a career in this field.
The American Drafting Design Association offers training programs for those new to CAD, as well as continuing education programs for experienced drafters. Some companies will hire new CAD technicians as junior assistants, allowing them to gain on-the-job training in CAD.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly wage for an architectural or civil drafter is £14.50 as of May 2008. For drafters outside of architecture and civil engineering, the median wage is £14.70 per hour.
According to PayScale, CAD technicians with less than one year of experience earn £7.60 to £10.0 an hour on average as of April 1, 2010. Those with five to nine years of experience earn £9.80 to £12.90 an hour.
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