Today’s world is chockfull of buildings, infrastructure and complex electronics. Before many of these modern innovations came to fruition, the plans for these projects had to be designed by architects and engineers and then drafted by computer aided drafting and design professionals.
Drafting and design are the first steps of constructing many buildings and machines. Most of the drafting today is done by computer aided drafting professionals using computer aided drafting software such as AutoCAD. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) software also helps drafters turn the architect’s or engineer’s project into a highly-detailed plan. But hold on, what exactly is drafting?
In short, drafting is the conversion of an architect’s or an engineer’s design for a building, electronic device or other complex object into a practical blueprint with specific dimensions so that those who are tasked with making it can do so properly.
CAD professionals bring designs to life by converting engineers’ and architects’ drawings into technical blueprints. The CAD job market is always in need of more specialists with extensive software knowledge and limitless creativity. Professionals spend most of their work days using AutoCAD and other computer software to assist on drawing production.
AutoCAD is one of the primary 2-D and 3-D computer aided drafting and design programs that drafters and designers use to create the technical blueprints for the engineers and architects who drew the designs. AutoCAD is at the base of many community college and trade school computer aided drafting programs.
Enterprise resource planning, on the other hand, is a kind of software that helps manage the business and logistics components of the project. Computer aided drafters and designers typically gain experience with both because it is important to understand how they intertwine in each project.
Though the bulk of a computer aided drafter and designer’s work consists of using software to create blueprints, there are other duties that they fulfill as well. Some of these responsibilities include:
- Designing components and systems
- Analyzing and understanding specifications and sketches
- Understanding mathematical formulas and operations
- Comprehension of design techniques and software
Getting into the computer aided drafting and design field typically requires an associate’s degree from a trade school program, such as those offered at a Pennsylvania tech school. Many trade and technical school computer aided drafting and design programs can be completed in less than two years.
So what are the essential qualities one would need to become a computer aided drafter and designer? Aside from being interested in the kind of work that they do, drafters and designers need to be proficient in mathematics. Dimensions are a crucial part of a drafter’s job, as well as mathematical operations used to determine such dimensions.
Other knowledge that is helpful to have when considering a career in computer aided drafting and design includes that of machines and tools, in addition to engineering and technology. Knowledge of computers is also ideal, as that is the platform on which most of the work is performed and it is the tool that aids them.
In addition to the practical knowledge and curiosity, succeeding as a computer aided drafter requires active listening and learning, complex problem solving and critical thinking skills. Communication skills are also important because computer aided drafters and designers need to interact with architects and engineers if there are any questions or issues regarding the projects designs.
It is not necessary for one to have all of these skills mastered before enrolling in a program, however, because the curriculum in computer aided drafting and design programs covers these skills.
After completion of a community college or trade school program, entry-level computer aided drafting and design professionals are qualified for positions like drafting and design technician, drafting designer and CAD specialist.
In addition to being able to earn a degree and enter the field sooner than others, computer aided drafting and design professionals are compensated better than other workers. According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), mechanical drafters earned a median salary of $54,480 in 2016.
As 3-D printing has become increasingly commonplace, it also has a use in the CAD industry. 3-D printing starts with creating a virtual design of the object or objects that are to be printed in three dimensions. Without having the proper coding, the 3-D printer cannot know the dimensions or other crucial details of what is to be printed.
It takes highly skilled individuals who are proficient in the software used to create these virtual designs to bring the 3-D prints from the computer screen into real life. This is where computer aided drafters and designers come in.
The increasing use of 3-D printers and other technologies will likely necessitate more jobs for professionals with such expertise. In fact, there has been so much growth in the 3-D printing industry that there have been multiple job board websites specifically for jobs in 3-D printing. There are even job boards specifically for drafting and design professionals, both freelance and otherwise.
Career opportunities in Drafting and Design
Upon your graduation, you will be able to work in different offices or manufacturing firms. Computer aided drafters work in places such as architectural agencies, manufacturing companies and engineering firms. This is not a comprehensive list, however, and there are many different possibilities beyond these.
There are also many different specializations one can master once they get into computer aided drafting. There are also opportunities for computer aided drafters to specialize within the individual specializations due to the fact that they are so broad.
Some of the specializations computer aided drafters can work in are as follows:
Civil – Create maps for use in construction and infrastructure projects (i.e. roads, bridges, etc.)
Electrical – Create wiring diagrams to guide electricians in the installation of electrical components in power plants and architectural projects
Electronics – Prepare wiring and assembly diagrams for circuit boards used in the manufacturing of any number of electronic devices and components (i.e. cell phones, laptops, etc.)
Architectural – Create blueprints for buildings that the construction workers will use in the erection of the buildings
Architectural drafting offers the widest array of specialization. Computer aided drafting and design professionals can specialize in a certain type of building (commercial or residential) or even the kind of material that is used in the building’s construction.
Most computer aided drafting and design professionals work a full time schedule. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, almost half of the drafters in the work force were employed in architectural, engineering and their aggregate industries as of 2014. Manufacturing is the next largest industry that employs drafters, employing 26 percent of the drafting labor force in 2014.
The employment outlook for drafting and design professionals varies depending on the individual’s specialization and the industry one works in. For example, employment for computer aided drafters and designers specializing electrical and electronics is projected to increase between five and eight percent through 2024, according to O*NET.
Mechanical drafting and design employment, on the other hand, is projected to grow at a slower rate, with around 8,000 positions projected to be available between 2014 and 2024.
Get Started with a Great Education
Penn Commercial Business/Technical School’s computer aided drafting and design program provides students with the skills they need to thrive in a CAD career. Students complete Penn Commercial’s computer aided drafting and design program in only 18 months and awards students with their associate in specialized technology degrees.
The extensive curriculum of Penn Commercial’s computer aided drafting and design program exposes students a multitude of skills and topics relevant to the CAD profession. Such skills and topics include ethics, structural drafting, communication and computer aided drafting.
To accommodate students to the changing world, Penn Commercial’s computer aided drafting and design program also gives students the opportunity to gain experience drafting for 3-D printing.
Students in Penn Commercial’s computer aided drafting and design program will learn from instructors who have years of experience as CAD professionals. They provide crucial knowledge that students attain in both classroom and laboratory settings.
Students are also required to complete an externship, which provides them with real-world CAD experience before they finish their degrees and enter the workforce.
Penn Commercial computer aided drafting and design students receive laptops equipped with the software they need to learn the ins and outs of the CAD industry. The skills students learn in Penn Commercial’s program will help them succeed in the highly-competitive computer aided drafting and design job market.
Penn Commercial offers its students a wealth of resources to help them gain employment at the conclusion of the program. These include services such as include career fairs, career counseling, mock interviews and resume help.
Penn Commercial’s extensive alumni network is another excellent resource that can help graduates gain employment. Penn Commercial has former computer aided drafting and design students who live all across the country, not to mention the state of Pennsylvania.
Penn Commercial is one of the top Pennsylvania tech schools, located in the heart of Washington, Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Penn Commercial’s computer aided drafting and design program or to set up a visit to campus, please go to https://www.penncommercial.edu/contact-us/ or call 724-22-5330.