What do you enjoy most about your cad drafter career?

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What do you enjoy most about being a cad drafter? What do you dislike the most? Is it challenging? Are there many opportunities to learn and advance?

What keeps you at your job?

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Mitchell in Cary, North Carolina

89 months ago

What do you enjoy most about being a cad drafter?

I now have over thirty years experience as an architectural CAD drafter. A draftsperson is as much an artisan as anyone who works in glass or metal - we just work in pixels. A CAD drawing, therefore, is just as "hand-made" an artifact as a piece of hand-crafted furniture. To me, many of the same satisfactions apply.

What do you dislike the most?

1. "Responsibility" without "Authority."
2. The impermanence of employment. Looking back over my 30+year career I would have to say that the "average" position lasted only about 3 years - and I've worked at two firms for 7 and 10 years respectively. My three tries at "Self-Employment" didn’t break the 3-year barrier. Frankly, however, this seems to be typical of the Engineering (and allied) fields in general.

Is it challenging?

If by "challenging" you mean interesting, worthwhile, and intellectually stimulating, then YES. But as with any career, YOU have to make it challenging. YOU have to take responsibility for maintaining and sharpening you skills - whether the company pays for it or not. Think of yourself as a carpenter/contractor, moving from job to job and bringing you own tools.

Are there many opportunities to learn and advance?

Yes, if "advancement" what you want. Sooner or later every CAD Drafter has to decide if they want to keep drawing, or supervise those who do the drafting - and then move on up the "corporate" ladder. As for "Continuing Education": some firms will pay or provide, many don't, so it's up to the individual.

What keeps you at your job?

As I've said, I think of myself as a Master Artisan. I take tremendous satisfaction in surveying and drafting floor plans up from said survey. I am very proud of being able to create a "made-thing" which will not only be useful today, but may well be useful (as a floor plan database or space allocation database) for years to come.

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Bonnie in Tucson, Arizona

84 months ago

What do I like most? The diversity, right now Aerospace is top of my list for fascinating design to learn. I've been a drafter/designer for 21 yrs now and I still love it so much, there is no way to get bored! Mechanical to Electrical to Aerospace to Nuclear, I mean the choices are endless and if one field starts to look stale, jump to a different field for a while! I was once told, you draft your drawings to the lowest intellect looking at your work, so clarity and style are very important, and I know I've looked at drawings from the past and thought wow what was this person thinking??? and I really don't ever want someone to look at my work that way, so in a way, to me, it is a work of art.

What do I dislike most? Sloppy work! working after someone who is just there to pick up a paycheck. It takes just as long to make something neat as it does to just throw stuff down there and have to go back and clean it up. Working after someone who takes short cuts, doesn't follow standards or take any kind of pride in their work. Gives contractors a very bad name!

Is it challenging? Oh yes, there is so much to learn for each field, parts, components, assemblies, sub assemblies, etc... How things work and why, whats the best way to display the parts so that everyone can see how it all fits together. Learning new software to become even more efficient at what you are doing. Its such a blast!

Are there many opportunities to learn and advance? Learning is what the job is about, the day you don't learn something is the day you should retire. There are always different more efficient ways of doing things. Talking to people, newly to the field and old timers, is a great way to learn things. I've worked with some awesome Engineers that just LOVE it when you ask questions for clarity, or understanding. That way they know you are serious about what you are doing for them. Advancement could mean many things, like taking the next step into 3D design, or engineering.

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Upenn02' in Swedesboro, New Jersey

83 months ago

As someone who worked as a CAD drafter for some ten years, for numerous large and small engineering firms, I must say that I sincerely admire the positive attitude(s) of the previous comments concerning a career in cad drafting.
However, of concern to my own career, I left CAD drafting simply because I began to find the occupation extremely limiting in scope. After working with and under many engineers of all types, it became clear to me I would never progress past the "cad jockey" or more spiteful term, "cad monkey" level (these were engineers words). I was extremely conversant in the popular CAD software packages of the day; as well as lesser known CAD software. I knew these programs inside and out, upside down, backwards, inverted, and so on. I could always find CAD work as my resume was full of CAD related big projects, and I usually demanded and received top notch pay. On top of that experience; I had the benefit of a two year associates degree in said discipline. However to engineers, we were only undereducated tools, "failed" engineers as one once told me. Towards 1992-93 I became tired and frustrated with lack of respect for the role the CAD operator played . I was told point blank on several occasions CAD operators would become obsolete as engineers would obtain CAD training; and thereby relieve CAD operators altogether. One can imagine how attractive this looked to engineering firms, they could knock out two birds with one stone essentially. Furthermore CAD operators are not and cannot be engineers no matter how much on the job experience they've had. Long story short, as I did not want to find myself correcting red marks on drawings for someone almost less than half my age, all day, every day; I went back to school, earned Bachelors and Masters degrees and made myself more valuable. I guess its all about what makes one happy...but I would not advise anyone to get into that field now. If your starting out, it should only be a pit stop.

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antonioalvarado in Roselle, Illinois

75 months ago

Well said, Upenn02' in Swedesboro.

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Josh in Denver, Colorado

60 months ago

Your comment was so helpful to me! thanks. I'm was thinking of going into this field, learning at a place called ITT tech. Now I'm not so sure...

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Bonnie in Pearland, Texas

60 months ago

Not go into Design and Drafting? lol Ive been in this field for about 23 yrs now and yes thats me above as well, I now work with NASA, a dream come true for me, and the work I do is incredibly important to the future of space flight and our future. Ive been told since I started out as a drafter that this was the wrong field to get into, that engineers would soon be doing all that we could do and I have to say that is total BS. Why? Because the engineers I work with are way to busy to do the design part of CAD. They have their hands full doing the creating and making the parts work and all that, which is why I call BS on drafting ever disappearing. I get calls every week to go somewhere else and work, there is more work than there are drafters. The important thing to learn is the softwares. Ive learned several different 3d modelling packages, from Solidworks, to IDEAs to Microstation and that makes me incredibly valuable to employers. Ive taken low paying positions for the chance to learn a new package, looking to the future when I can put that on my resume as a skill. I actually think going into the drafting field is smart, because people do say dont go in and pretty soon a drafter will be a resource that is hard to find. But then I really love what I do :) so don't let doomsayers stop you from going into a field that you enjoy, most of the time its just talk.

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Joann in Houston, Texas

5 months ago

Are you still in the same field? I am thinking of a career change and taking classes in CAD. Have been doing clerical work for years and want to do something more. Where would be the best education? HCC has classes and Horn Drafting Center.

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4 months ago

I would like to reiterate how important it is to "learn the field" in which you will be drafting. This is the one and only way to make a lot of money drafting.

Employers will expect you to be fluent with their "in house" software (never lie about your knowledge of software you will be found out immediately), but they will be much more leinient about helping you learn the engineering side of a particular field.

It is a challenging field, and to those above who mentioned the "CAD Monkey" comment I would have to disagree. Employers hate hiring one dimensional people who do not think about a design and simply do whatever the red marks say.

Once you become talented, Engineers will be comming to you asking for help making decisions based off of your models.

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