Almost every structure that is built begins with a drawing, and the job description of a CAD operator calls for drawing the guidelines and technical details for building structures. Such an operator typically works with engineers and architects to produce plans and drawings for a structure scheduled to be built.
A CAD operator, also known as a drafter, uses computer-aided design or CAD systems to make drawings and blueprints which can be used in building designs, machinery designs, landscape designs and anything else that requires a design prior to being constructed.
Essential Duties and Responsibilities of a CAD Operator
- Understands the equations, calculations and written instructions from designers and engineers before beginning a CAD drawing.
- Uses special notations and symbols to give instructions on drawings and blueprints.
- Draws plans for structural foundations and other construction projects.
- Uses manual drawing skills for plans that cannot be computer generated.
- Draws layout of room and building interiors.
- Revises drawings based on instructions from engineers or architects.
- Determines impact of site requirements and building codes before doing drawings or blueprints.
- Visits building sites to collect data for drawings.
- Consults with clients to understand their instructions and to answer their questions.
- Monitors compliance with building codes throughout the construction process.
- Reviews engineering data to ensure compliance with the original design plans.
- Modifies existing drawings.
- Draws illustrations of mechanical systems for manuals.
- Meets all deadlines.
- Stores drawings electronically for later use.
- Programs drawings into manufacturing systems.
Required Knowledge, Skills and Abilities
- Must be mechanically inclined.
- Must be detail oriented.
- Must possess a talent for drawing.
- Must have excellent communication skills.
- Must have superior computer skills.
- Must have good math skills, particularly algebra and geometry.
- Knowledgeable of building codes.
- Must have knowledge of architectural terminology.
- Must have the ability to envision a finished product.
- Knowledgeable of drafting software for creating 2D and 3D computer drawings.
- Must be able to work with very little supervision.
Education and Experience
- Associates degree in Drafting.
- Bachelor’s degree in Computer Technology, Architecture or Civil Engineering.
- Continuing education courses on new CAD technology as it emerges.
- Certification from the American Design Drafting Association.
- Internship with engineering firm, architectural firm or other company that uses CAD operators.
- Experience as a drafter.
- Time is spent primarily sitting in a climate controlled office environment or shared office space.
- Time is spent looking at a computer screen, keyboarding and using a mouse.
- Must be able to travel to construction sites to gather data and consult with builders and architects, to factories to collect data regarding equipment or to any other job site where CAD drawings will be used.
- Must be able to work under pressure, particularly when faced with a tight deadline.
- Must be able to work normal hours of Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm, but also be willing to work overtime when necessary.
- Must make sure work aids are used that reduce eye strain, back trouble and carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Salaries range from $40,000 to $60,000 depending on the field of work.