Computer-Aided Drafting

As a CAD technician, you can choose from a variety of careers in many different fields. Industries need CAD operators to work with technology and create new products. You might fill a critical role at an engineering or manufacturing firm. Or work closely with others to solve manufacturing and design problems.

CAD technicians help manufacturers streamline production and improve their products. Your ability to understand technology could play an important role in developing the "next big product idea."

Find out what students and instructors say about this program.

Essential Skills and Salary Information

Wages & Employment Trends

Location Pay Period 2011
10% 25% Median 75% 90%
United States Hourly $15.51 $18.95 $23.65 $29.53 $37.07
Yearly $32,300 $39,400 $49,200 $61,400 $77,100
Pennsylvania Hourly $14.52 $17.47 $22.23 $28.40 $35.08
Yearly $30,200 $36,300 $46,200 $59,100 $73,000
United States Employment Percent Change Job Openings 1
2010 2020
Mechanical Drafters 67,400 74,900 +11% 2,050
Pennsylvania Employment Percent Change Job Openings 1
2008 2018
Mechanical Drafters 4,100 3,850 -7% 120

1 Job Openings refers to the average annual job openings due to growth and net replacement.

Note: The data for the State Employment Trends and the National Employment Trends are not directly comparable. The projections period for state data is 2008-2018, while the projections period for national data is 2010-2020.

Information provided by CareerOneStop, sponsored by the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration

Tasks

  • Develop detailed design drawings and specifications for mechanical equipment, dies, tools, and controls, using computer-assisted drafting (CAD) equipment.
  • Lay out and draw schematic, orthographic, or angle views to depict functional relationships of components, assemblies, systems, and machines.
  • Coordinate with and consult other workers to design, lay out, or detail components and systems and to resolve design or other problems.
  • Check dimensions of materials to be used and assign numbers to the materials.
  • Review and analyze specifications, sketches, drawings, ideas, and related data to assess factors affecting component designs and the procedures and instructions to be followed.
  • Modify and revise designs to correct operating deficiencies or to reduce production problems.
  • Compute mathematical formulas to develop and design detailed specifications for components or machinery using computer-assisted equipment.
  • Position instructions and comments onto drawings.
  • Lay out, draw, and reproduce illustrations for reference manuals and technical publications to describe operation and maintenance of mechanical systems.
  • Design scale or full-size blueprints of specialty items such as furniture and automobile body or chassis components.

Tools used in this occupation

  • Curves — Flexible curves; French curves
  • Plotter printers — Cutting plotters; Plotters
  • Scales — Architects' scales; Electronic scales
  • Scanners — Backlit digitizers; Sonic digitizers; Three-dimensional laser digitizers; Wide-format document scanners
  • Triangles

Technology used in this occupation

  • Computer aided design CAD software — Autodesk AutoCAD software; Bentley Navigator; PTC Pro/ENGINEER Mechanica; Siemens Solid Edge software
  • Document management software — Document management system software
  • Graphics or photo imaging software — Adobe Systems Adobe After Effects; McNeel Rhino software; Motion graphics software; Non uniform rational b-splines NURBS software
  • Optical character reader OCR or scanning software — Scanning software; Three-dimensional scanning software
  • Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel

Knowledge

  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

Skills

  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operations Analysis — Analyzing needs and product requirements to create a design.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities

  • Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
  • Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Originality — The ability to come up with unusual or clever ideas about a given topic or situation, or to develop creative ways to solve a problem.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Work Activities

  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment — Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.

Interests

Interest code: RCI

  • Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.

Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
  • Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.