Are you wondering if becoming a CAD drafter is a good career choice? Well, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll cover the good, the bad, and the great about becoming a CAD drafter.
A CAD drafter can be a great career for the right person. However, people who are interested in becoming a CAD drafter will need to consider the education requirements, the salary potential, and the work-life balance.
In the next sections, we’ll go over many aspects of the CAD drafter’s lifestyle, so you can decide if it’s the right career for you.
What Does a CAD Drafter Do?
A CAD drafter uses software such as Autodesk (AutoCAD) to help draft and create various designs. Computer-Aided-Design (CAD) involves the use of software to, essentially, create blueprints and designs for various building projects.
These could be anything mechanical or tangible. For example, a CAD drafter might work on designing houses, bridges, roads, or large buildings. They may also work with planning plumbing, wiring, and the like.
This is just a brief overview of what a CAD drafter does; however, it’s good to keep in mind that what any given CAD drafter does on a day-to-day basis could be very different. It all depends on their level of training, the company they work at, and their specialty.
Overall, becoming a CAD drafter will suit those who are savvy with computers and who enjoy the challenges presented by new building projects. This job will also be suited for those who have a proclivity toward engineering principles.
Later in this article, we’ll talk about some ways you can get a better idea of what a CAD drafter does (this will really help you in deciding if the job is right for you).
For now, let’s talk about the education process to become a CAD drafter.
Paths to Become a CAD Drafter
CAD drafting is a specific skill. When it comes to skill, there are many ways that you can approach achieving an education. Before you begin thinking about an education path, try to nail down the different types of jobs of a CAD drafter. Not all jobs will have the same requirements. We’ll go over these in the next section.
For now, here are several pathways to becoming a CAD Drafter:
- Technical classes
Let’s look at these in more depth.
Apprenticeship to Become a CAD Drafter
The first thing you can do to become a CAD Drafter is to find an apprenticeship. How does this work?
An apprenticeship essentially means that you’re learning on the job, from someone who is an expert in the field. In many ways, if you find a teacher who is quite talented, this could be the best option, especially if you want to learn a specific part of the job really well.
However, the drawback to becoming an apprentice is that you might be required (for some jobs) to have specific certifications and that you might be more interested in learning about CAD drafting in a broader sense.
Technical School for CAD Drafting
A technical course in becoming a CAD drafter will have several benefits. First, it can give you a broad understanding of how the job works. This is nice if you’re not quite sure what you want to do yet.
Second, technical classes will usually be faster than options like college. Technical schools are usually completely focused on the skill they are teaching, and this can be great for those who know their focus.
College to become a CAD Drafter
If you’d like to complete a college degree, then you can find CAD drafting-related education at colleges, from community colleges to universities.
By going to a community college or university, you give yourself several advantages. First, you may get some good networking opportunities, as there may be people who are already connected to the course or institution.
College is also a great option for those who want to achieve a broader, more general education. The downside is you may get less specific education about CAD drafting work.
Keep in mind that, depending on the type of job you plan to work, the education requirements could change. For example, if you plan on being hired as an assistant drafter, then you may not need as much education. However, if you’re planning on starting your own business and working contract jobs, then you’ll need to prove that you really know your stuff.
Salary and Work-Life Balance for AutoCAD Drafters?
A CAD Drafter’s salary can vary widely. It really comes down to three things, experience, training, and who you’re working for. Also, it comes down to stress tolerance. Jobs that require more stress and more responsibility will likely pay more than jobs that are easier.
With all that being said, expect to make anywhere from $40,000 to $70,000 yearly as a CAD Drafter (with the opportunity to make much more or much less, depending on how you operate).
How about the work-life balance?
Generally, the work-life balance of a CAD drafter is pretty good. Drafters are not usually required to work awkward shifts, and they generally have a pretty doable workload. However, sometimes, they may be on-call to solve problems and correct old plans.
Some CAD drafters will work as independent contractors. As a contractor, you will have more freedom, but you will need to work harder to make the same amount of money. Generally, the opposite is true if you work with a company – more steady income, but less freedom.
There are some areas that allow CAD Drafters to work remotely. If that’s important to you, then this is an option.
How to Decide if CAD Drafting is a Good Career for You
Now let’s talk about some ways to know if drafting will be a good career for you. Thankfully, there are many ways you can decide if becoming a CAD drafter will be up your alley. Let’s check out a few techniques.
Here are a few simple things you can do to decide if CAD Drafting is for you:
- Look at reviews of jobs on job sites
- Try to find people online who talk about their job
- Contact someone in real life
Let’s look at these in more depth.
Look at CAD Drafter Job Reviews
Look at reviews of CAD Drafter jobs on sites like Indeed.com. You have to use some critical thinking when viewing reviews of jobs, as there are some people who just want to bash their past employer for personal reasons.
With that said, if you come prepared, you can learn a lot from looking at multiple reviews from job sites. If you look at many reviews, you will begin to see patterns, and you can use these various opinions to help you decide if the job is for you.
Find CAD Drafters Online and Follow Them
After looking at some reviews of the job, try to find some CAD drafters online. Perhaps there are some who are openly sharing their work on YouTube, or maybe they have a blog or website where they talk about their work. If you can find someone sharing their work, you will gain several benefits.
First, they will be able to show you their day-to-day work, giving you a true insight into the work that needs to be done for their specific field. This is great for those who want to find out more than just a general understanding of what a CAD drafter does.
Second, it will allow you to match your personality. This is crucial. As you may know, everyone has different tastes when it comes to working, and some things that few people think are really great will be a problem for others.
By finding a person online who does the career you’re interested in, you can match your personality. If you notice that the people who most enjoy the career of a CAD drafter have some specific attributes, you will better be able to match yourself up with the job.
Let’s talk about one more way you can find out if CAD drafting is a good career for you.
Find Someone Who Can be a Personal Mentor (Job Shadow, or Apprenticeship)
The best way to find out if CAD Drafting is a good career for you is to actually perform the job. But, how can you perform the job without making a huge commitment? This is understandable if you’re still in a phase of discovery, and you’re not 100% sure that being a CAD drafter is for you.
First, you can reach out to a professional and ask if they could be a mentor, or ask if you could work as an assistant. This helps them, as you can help take a load off them. But it also helps you, as you can also take the time to learn the job.
Second, you could try to become an apprentice. This is a step further, as it usually requires some type of time commitment, but it will help prepare you, and it will give you the best chance to decide if you actually like the work.
Now, let’s go over our final thoughts on the viability of a CAD Career.
Final Thoughts on CAD Drafting as a Career
CAD drafting is a good career for the right person. You can make pretty good money, have the chance to move up to a CAD designer, and the work-life balance isn’t bad. While we’d love to say that one article can help you make the decision, the best way to decide if this career is right for you is to find a professional CAD drafter and get some personal guidance.