Computer Aided Drafting (Design) Technician

A computer-aided drafting or design technician creates detailed design drawings using computer-aided drafting (CAD) software. The drawings are high resolution (the degree of detail visible in an image or photograph), easy to correct, and can be shifted or rotated to any perspective. Parts of the drawing can be shown in 3D and they can be annotated. CAD software is used to enable the technician to visualise the structure and function of an item, as well as indicating what colour and texture are to be used to fill in the shape.

Every physical structure or object created in recent years - from hand-blenders to skyscrapers - has a set of design or drafting diagrams applicable to it. Structures are carefully designed by a team of engineers assisted by computer aided drafting (CAD) operators. CAD operators support the work of engineers and architects by developing and preparing the engineering designs and technical drawings used to build everything from mechanical products to structures. CAD operators use computer-aided design systems and peripheral equipment to draft and modify drawings which vary from rough or detailed sketches or notes to specified dimensions for manufacturing, construction, engineering, or other purposes. They utilise knowledge of various CAD programs, machines, engineering practices, mathematics, building materials and other physical sciences to complete drawings.

Using industry standards and regulations, they make calculations and prepare design drawings using preliminary concepts, sketches, calculations, specifications and other data. Their drawings indicate the details of products and structures, specify materials to be used and procedures to be followed. CAD operators may also prepare a technical report to accompany the CAD drawings.

CAD operators use a number of sources and aids to assist them in their drafting and design work, such as data tables, calculators and computers. They are also involved in related activities such as estimating, contract administration as well as specification preparation and interpretation. Traditionally, this type of job involved hand drawing blueprints and designs, but with advances in technology, nearly all design now takes place on CAD systems.

CAD operators can specialise in specific fields of design, such as mechanical engineering, architecture, electronics, or automotive, or even fashion design.

Personal Requirements

  • pay attention to detail
  • able to maintain good hand-eye coordination when designing projects
  • have the ability to visualise three-dimensional objects from two-dimensional drawings
  • able to work well under pressure
  • excellent computer / technology skills

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

  • National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
  • National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course
Each institution has its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Completion of a one- or two-year college programme in CAD engineering technology is usually required for computer aided drafting technicians. Courses are available at Damelin, AAT, CTU, Damelin, Ekurhuleni West and Flavius Mareka TVET (Technical Vocational Education and Training) Colleges.

Certification in CAD drafting technology or in a related field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians, which may be required for some job positions.
With further education, CAD operators may go on to become technologists, engineers or architects.


  • consulting and construction companies
  • utility, resource and manufacturing companies
  • private machine design firms
  • architectural and engineering consulting firms
  • electronics manufacturing companies
  • petrochemical, food processing and energy industries
  • automotive manufacturers
  • fashion houses

Further Information

Computer Society of SA 
ICT House
546 16th Road
Constantia Park [Unit No.3]
Tel: (011) 315-1319

Getting Started

  • speak to a CAD operator about this career
  • if you have access to a computer, try to purchase entry-level CAD software to develop your design skills
  • do computer-related courses such as desktop publishing, computer graphics and scanning applications

Programmes by Study Institutions

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