Computer-Aided Design Drafters and Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

If you are a high school student, take courses that provide you with a solid background in algebra, geometry, trigonometry, physics, machine-shop skills, drafting, and electronics, and take whatever computer courses are available—especially those in computer-aided design. You should also take courses in English and speech, especially those that improve your communication skills. Any courses that help you develop your critical-thinking skills will be useful since CAD technicians must be able to read and understand complex engineering diagrams and drawings.

Postsecondary Training

Employers prefer job applicants who have some form of postsecondary training in drafting, with a minimum of an associate's degree the minimum standard to enter the field. Such a program should include courses in these areas: basic drafting, CAD software, architecture, civil drafting (with an emphasis on highways), process piping, electrical, electrical instrumentation, HVAC, and plumbing. There should also be courses in data processing; computer programming, systems, and equipment, especially video-display equipment; computer graphics; product design; and computer peripheral equipment and data storage. Some two-year programs may also require you to complete courses in technical writing, communications, social sciences, and the humanities.

In addition, some companies have their own training programs, which can last as long as two years. Requirements for entry into these company-run training programs vary from company to company.

Other Education or Training

If you are considering a career in CAD technology, it is important to remember that you will be required to take continuing education (CE) courses even after you have found a job. This continuing education is necessary because technicians need to know about recent advances in technology. The American Design Drafting Association/American Digital Design Association offer CE opportunities at its conferences. State-level drafting associations also provide CE workshops, seminars, and webinars.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Certification for CAD technicians is voluntary. The American Design Drafting Association offers the Certified Design Drafter and Certified Digital Designer credentials to applicants who have three to five years of experience and pass an online examination. 

Licensing requirements vary. Licensing may be required for specific projects, such as a construction project, when the client requires it.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Prior experience using computer-aided design software via an internship or cooperative educational experience will be useful for aspiring drafters and technicians.

As a CAD technician or drafter, you will need to think logically, have good analytical skills, and be methodical, accurate, and detail-oriented in all your work. You should be able to work as part of a team, as well as independently, since you will spend long periods of time in front of a computer monitor. You should also be creative and imaginative in order to visualize what a new part or component or new version of one might look like when complete.