Front Range Community College Blog

What is Computer-Aided Drafting and Design?

The foundation of Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CAD) is drafting by hand. As technology has evolved, so has drafting. It evolved into CAD, which itself is evolving further into 3D modeling and printing.

What can I do with a CAD degree?

Plenty.

A diverse set of industries need people with CAD skills – architecture studios, design firms, engineering companies, construction companies, manufacturing, even game-design companies.

You could end up in one of these industries as a CAD technician, CAD operator, or even a CAD manager. You would be preparing engineering or construction documents, illustrations, graphics, or 3D models.

Learn current CAD software

You will be knowledgeable in the CAD software that fits your career plan, and there is plenty of software to know. At Front Range Community College, we update our software with every release, so your skills keep up with changes in CAD technologies. In fact, we know of times when our software is ahead of what you will find in industry. Here’s what we teach:

  • AutoDesk AutoCAD
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D
  • AutoDesk Revit
  • AutoDesk Inventor
  • AutoDesk 3DS Max
  • Navisworks
  • SolidWorks
  • Sketchup

You also will gain knowledge of the technical side of industry.

Is a degree in CAD right for me?

Successful CAD technicians can be of any age, male or female, coming right out of high school, changing careers, or coming from industry to learn the latest software. They are detail-oriented and are comfortable with math and technical areas. They can visualize in 2D and 3D. They are creative and artistic. They may be attracted to animation, visualization, graphics, and gaming.

CAD technicians don’t work in vacuums, so you need good communications skills and be able to work on a team.

The Associate of Applied Science in CAD can be earned in two years, and you can earn certificates in two semesters. Many students earn certificates as they progress to the A.A.S. degree. Certificates are offered in:

  • Basic CAD
  • Advanced Architectural CAD
  • Advanced Civil CAD
  • Advanced Mechanical CAD
  • Animation and Visualization CAD
  • Landscape CAD

An integrated approach

Because CAD is used across a wide spectrum of industries, Front Range students have an opportunity to be introduced to Architectural Engineering and Construction Science, Interior Design (Larimer Campus), Manufacturing and Energy Technology (Larimer Campus), Welding Technology, and even Horticulture and Landscape Technology.

Job & salary outlook for CAD technicians

The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment forecasts 255 job openings per year through 2023 for architectural and civil drafters, 287 openings per year for electrical and electronics drafters, and 130 openings per year for mechanical drafters.

  Entry Average Experienced
Architectural and Civil Drafters $37,465/year $55,075/year $63,880/year
Electrical Drafters $44,156/year $65,807/year $76,633/year
Mechanical Drafters $35,322/year $55,462/year $65,533/year

(Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, 2014)

Avatar for Claudia Romero

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Claudia Romero is the program director for CAD at the Larimer Campus. She has a bachelor’s in interior design and a master's in education from Colorado State University. She was a pioneer in introducing CAD to the firms where she worked in private industry as well as at FRCC. She also introduced many new CAD courses to the state of Colorado curriculum. She has worked for a design center, an architect, a landscape architect, and a landscape company. Claudia also serves as chair of the state CAD Curriculum Discipline Team as well as co-chair of the college curriculum committee and representative to the state for career/technical education.