What is Computer Aided Design (CAD)? Explore the Career Path

Updated December 2023

The computer-aided design (CAD) field is all about using special software to develop precise plans for making buildings, machines, and a wide range of other products.

Working in CAD means taking a concept for an object or structure and creating detailed schematics and instructions for bringing it to life.

Computer-aided design has a huge range of applications. Through CAD training, you can develop skills that are valued in a wide variety of industries, including architecture, manufacturing, engineering, and more.

In this post, we explain what computer-aided design is, what it’s used for, and what kinds of career options are available in the field.

Curious about a career in CAD? Here’s what you need to know.



Computer-aided design is the process of digitally developing technical drawings, schematics, layouts, blueprints, models, manuals, and plans.

With CAD software, you can create 2D or 3D design documents with precise measurements. You can specify exactly what components are needed, how they will fit together, and how the final product should look.

Those detailed documents become the instructions for assembling and building anything from houses, factories, and furniture to fixtures, tools, and machines.

Industries like architecture, industrial design, manufacturing, engineering, and product design commonly rely on the skills and expertise of CAD specialists.

Every new project begins with a blueprint, drafted by a CAD professional. They play a crucial role in the design and creation process.



CAD software can be used to produce a wide variety of design documents. Here are a few common types:

Manufacturing blueprints

Manufacturing blueprints are detailed, precise plans that specify how an object should be constructed or fabricated. They provide information on dimensions, tolerances, material types, finishes, and more.

Floor plans

Floor plans map out the position of walls, doors, windows, furniture, and other components of a building. They show the size and layout of each room from a top-down view.

Site plans

Also known as plot plans, site plans are scaled drawings that outline how a piece of land will be altered or improved. They show what currently exists on the property and what changes are being proposed.

Site plans illustrate the placement of things like buildings, landscape features, power lines, driveways, parking lots, and fencing.

Piping and instrumentation diagrams

Piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) document the functional relationship of piping and other components in a process flow. They demonstrate how pumps, valves, drains, sensors, tanks, and related components connect and relate to each other.

A P&ID is often created when a manufacturing process is being developed for a physical plant.

Electrical schematics

Electrical schematics offer a high-level view of the makeup of an electrical system. They show the functionality of a circuit and how the various components relate to each other, but they don’t indicate how the wires are physically laid out.

Wiring diagrams

Wiring diagrams represent the actual location of wires within a circuit or electrical system. They illustrate how the wires connect to each other and to other fixtures and components.



CAD training can lead to a variety of different career paths.

For instance, you could specialize in architectural or civil design and drafting. This involves developing foundation, framing, and site plans along with drawings that show the layout of plumbing, HVAC, and electrical systems.

You could also focus on mechanical or manufacturing design and drafting. In this case, you would prepare drawings, models, and specifications for tools, devices, machines, assemblies, parts, and equipment.

CAD specialists are hired by:

  • Architecture firms
  • Construction companies
  • Design firms
  • Manufacturing companies
  • Land surveyors
  • Government departments
  • Utility companies

Herzing College CAD instructor Roberto Romano says the computer-aided design and drafting field offers plenty of ways to advance. "Most graduates start out as junior CAD designers/drafters. This work usually involves doing corrections to drawings, preparing shop drawings in AutoCAD, and converting files over," he says.

"A junior designer is often responsible for answering client emails and calls, keeping clients updated on projects, maintaining logs, bills of materials, and other documentation.

"If you do the work well, and your employer appreciates your efficiency and work ethic, there are definitely ways to move up. A junior drafter can get promoted to senior drafter, and even transfer into the design department.”



Working in computer-aided design can come with a healthy income.

According to the Government of Canada Job Bank, CAD technicians have a median salary of about $60,000. The highest-earning CAD specialists in the country make upwards of $87,000.



Interested in starting a career in CAD?

Check out the computer-aided design program from Herzing College. This program can be completed in 16 to 24 months, depending on the pace you choose.

Students get comprehensive training in the latest CAD software. They learn how to produce documents for architecture, manufacturing and engineering. Training also includes real-world experience through a four-month internship at a local company.

Graduates of our CAD program have been hired by Axis Lighting, Enerquin, Lumenpulse, Orbinox, and other major companies.

Still have questions? An admissions advisor can provide answers about class schedules, costs, financial aid, how to apply, and more.

Click below to get further details on the CAD program and chat live with an advisor. We’re here to help!

Explore the Computer-Aided Design and Drafting Program

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