Education Initiatives Designed to Boost Enrollment in CAD Drafting School

STEM education initiative may bring CAD and drafting into America's middle schools and high schools.
A CAD drafter uses a triangle to work on plans

CAD—computer-aided design and drafting—used to be primarily the province of professional drafters and technical drawing experts.

But thanks to federal programs addressing a shortage in skilled science and engineering workers, CAD drafting technology is finding its way into America's middle schools and high schools.

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curricula like Project Lead the Way and efforts like the FIRST Robotics Challenge are promoting CAD in the classroom—with exciting results.

What's the job outlook for CAD drafting professionals? Pretty good, judging from the investments flooding into early STEM education.

Shaping American Education

"CAD increasingly is shaping the education of America's youth in ways that far outstrip its original application as a drafting tool," says Heather Livingston of Cadalyst magazine, a leading CAD industry publication. "Its use is helping to shore up the country's supply of engineers by instilling a passion for technology use at a young age—and shoring up students' confidence in their ability to succeed." Advocates of STEM programs have already noticed an upswing in enrollment in technology degrees, including, of course, CAD drafting school.

What Is CAD Drafting?

We've all heard the ongoing buzz about rebuilding the nation's infrastructure and promoting green building practices, and that translates into potential job opportunities for graduates of CAD drafting school. Take a look at a few of the different types of drafting fields that utilize CAD skills:

  • Architectural drafting focuses on the structure and architecture of new buildings.
  • Aeronautical drafting creates designs and specifications for aircraft and other related machinery.
  • Civil drafting is critical to civil engineering projects like highways and bridges.
  • Electrical drafting produces wiring and layout schematics for electrical workers in power plants and other buildings.
  • Electronics drafting is used in the electronics industry to design and lay out circuit boards, components, and other devices.
  • Mechanical drafting creates plans for the assembly and manufacture of machinery.
  • Pipeline drafting is important in the fuel and chemical industries and tackles the layout of oil refineries, gas pipelines, and other processing systems.

The Road to CAD Drafting School

Fortunately, you don't have to start in middle school or high school to enter the drafting field. STEM programs might give you a leg up, but they aren't the only road to a career in drafting. With a 2-year degree from a technical institute or community college, you can prepare for an entry-level job in most drafting fields. Other areas of drafting may require a 4-year degree, namely architectural drafting, which requires extensive training in CAD software, computerized and non-computerized drafting equipment, mathematics and other subjects.

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; The Art Institutes; Cadalyst, Winter 2012; O*NET Online.