What You Should Know about Becoming a CAD Designer
The world of computer-aided design has grown immensely in recent years. More advanced CAD software, burgeoning industries that require 2D and 3D drafting and many other factors combine to make this one of the most rewarding career paths out there. Of course, in order to become a CAD designer, you have to learn a few things first. What should you know about the process? What’s the industry like, and what career prospects might you find?
According to the US BLS, those with at least an associate’s degree in CAD/drafting stand to earn a median income of $47,880 per year, and the industry is expected to see growth in the coming years (more growth for those with more than basic drafting skills, of course). For instance, architectural and civil drafters will see a 6 percent increase between 2010 and 2020 in terms of job opportunities. Electrical and electronics drafters will see 5 percent, while mechanical drafters will see 11 percent (CAD is used in all of these fields). If you decide to become an architect, your career prospects increase considerably (with a median salary of over $72,000).
Like most other professional careers, becoming a CAD designer requires that you have a formal education. Most employers will want that you have at least an associate’s degree. You can start that education at almost any point in your life – high school students have access to classes that will prepare them for further education, but even if you’ve already graduated from high school and are out in the workforce, you’ll find quite a few options to get the necessary education. Community colleges are primary sources of education – you’ll need to take an approved course in computer-aided design.
Once you’ve completed your education, you’ll need to begin building your experience. Holding a degree isn’t the only thing important. Most employers require you to have some on the job training as well. It’s important to note that what you learn on the job may vary significantly from one employer to another depending on the employer’s niche or specialty. For instance, a CAD company that works primarily with entertainment-oriented businesses will focus on different aspects than a company that primarily works with civil engineers or architects.
Finally, you’ll need to earn your ADDA certification – (American Design Drafting Association). This certification proves that you have the training, education and knowhow required for higher positions within the CAD field.
Interestingly, those who graduate with a degree and then earn their ADDA certification have a tremendous range of job opportunities available to them. You should have a particular field in mind when you start out – you might want to work with filmmakers, or perhaps you prefer to work with an animation studio. You might decide that working in the automotive industry is right for you. By having a particular field in mind when going through the education and training process, you can tailor your knowledge and skills toward what you’ll need within that field.
– The CAD Chief