What Does A Computer Aided Drafter Do?

"I like to draw and make designs using computer programs. My dad, who is an architect, encouraged me to take up architecture when I graduate from high school but it’s just not my thing. I told him about it and he said that if architecture doesn’t interest me then I should consider becoming a computer-aided drafter. I wanted to ask him more about it but he was running late for his flight to Dubai where he is now doing a project so can you please tell me more about this? What does a computer-aided drafter do?"

asked by Doug B. from Olympia, Washington

Computer-aided drafters use their knowledge of computer-aided design and drafting or CADD software to turn the rough sketches of architects and engineers into technical drawings and plans that are complete with specifications and measurements. Depending on their specialization, drafters can either focus on aeronautics, architectural, civil, electrical, electronics, mechanical or pipeline drafting. They are basically integral in the creation of missiles, aircrafts, highways, bridges, residential buildings, microchips and buildings, among others.

Also referred to as CADD operators, computer-aided drafters also help use their knowledge of building techniques to make the architectural plans of engineers and architects more detailed. Their designs are also complete with specific dimensions, the materials needed and the procedure that needs to be followed to create the product. They usually prepare different versions of the designs for engineers and architects to review and evaluate.

The drawings created by computer-aided drafters are saved in electronic form. Since CADD is used, the schematics can be viewed and integrated seamlessly into the building information modeling systems or BIM and product data management systems or PDM.

BIM and PDM systems are important because they allow those involved in the planning and construction of a project—from drafters to architects to engineers to construction managers—to work together on the digital models before the actual construction is carried out.

For example, BIM enables the design team to see how the various elements interact and work together. Important project data like technical specifications can be monitored through the use of PDM software. With these software systems, it is now possible for drafters to do their work together with the other members of the design team.

Computer-aided drafters work under the supervision of engineers and architects. Although most of their job is confined to the office in front of their computers and CADD software, drafters may be required to travel to the construction site if there is a need for them to collaborate with engineers and architects there.

To gain entry into the profession, an aspiring drafter typically needs to complete a two-year associate’s degree in drafting from a technical institute or community college.

After completing the course, certificates or diplomas are generally awarded. Drafters who wish to enhance their competence and credentials can get voluntarily certified for various specialties, such as architectural, civil and mechanical drafting. Certification can be obtained from the American Design Drafting Association.

Career Spotlight: Computer Aided Drafter

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