AutoCAD is a series of design software programs typically used by professional drafters, architects, and designers. Companies and organizations that provide architecture and/or engineering services regularly rely upon AutoCAD consultants to digitally create the blueprints for edifices, machines, or devices. These AutoCAD consultants are the experts on computer-aided design and drafting.
AutoCAD consultants are drafters who produce technical designs, drawings and plans with a computer. They are familiar with the AutoCAD software, construction techniques, trade terminology and design and drafting conventions and also have an understanding the math and physics needed for building. Generally speaking, AutoCAD consultants have a certificate or associate's degree in computer aided design (CAD) and some experience in industry.
|Required Education||associate's degree in drafting or certificate in CAD|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)||-3%, for all drafters*|
|Median Salary (2015)||$52,720, for all drafters*|
Source: *Bureau of Labor Statistics
Educational Requirements for AutoCAD Consultants
Computer-aided design and computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) are the generic terms for drafters who use computers. AutoCAD consultants are CAD operators who have a background in drafting and a mastery of the common industry software AutoCAD.
AutoCAD consultants typically have a certificate or associate's degree in CAD and possess years of experience in the drafting, architecture or related industries. CAD programs are available in engineering, design or technology departments at 2-year colleges, technical institutes and some 4-year colleges.
Certificate programs typically train students to use AutoCAD or other drafting software. The courses teach application basics and show students how to use the software tools. Students will complete projects to grow more proficient in AutoCAD. Associate's degree programs offer broader industry training in addition to the software courses. Students take courses in CAD basics, architectural design, drafting and modeling of solid objects.
Whether earning a certificate or an associate's degree, students should consider taking advanced software training because of the complexity of AutoCAD and its spin-off applications. Students may also decide to pursue additional education in architecture, civil engineering and landscape design. If they hold an associate's degree, they may be able to take another two to three years of higher education to earn a bachelor's degree.
AutoCAD Consultants Career Information
AutoCAD consultants will find work more readily with at least two years of formal training, years of experience and willingness and ability to adapt to technological changes. They have an understanding of the math and physics needed for building.
As consultants, drafters may teach others to use the AutoCAD software or they may work independently in their own businesses. Instructors of AutoCAD must be fluent enough in the program software to be able to teach new learners. They can teach in a college extension program or corporate setting, offering advanced training to professionals.
AutoCAD consultants may also be hired to assist a company with installation of a new version of the software or debugging problems once it's been uploaded to a system. Because of their expertise, they may also be called upon, potentially under tight deadlines, to create drawings using AutoCAD.
Job Outlook for AutoCAD Consultants
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), drafters - the broad term that includes AutoCAD consultants - held approximately 204,400 jobs in 2014. Of those, 49% worked in firms for architecture, engineering or similar fields, 26% worked in manufacturing and 9% worked in construction. Drafters earned a median annual wage of $52,720 in May 2015, states the BLS.
In the decade from 2014 to 2024, the BLS expects the market for drafters as a whole to experience a 3% decline in employment. Mechanical drafters are even expected to see a 7% decline in jobs. Specializations in electrical drafting, however, are expected to grow by 5% during the period. The drafting field is also subject to the cyclical nature of the construction and manufacturing industries. Demand for CAD operators varies by region.
AutoCAD consultants must be familiar with CAD software programs and applications. Because of the decline in the number of drafting jobs in the U.S., job competition is likely to be strong for these positions. Holding an associate's degree in CAD may be a drafter's best bet to having an attractive resume for employers.