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Become a CAD Design Technician: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Explore the requirements to become a CAD design technician. Learn about the job description and duties, and review the step-by-step process that can help you start a career in computer-aided design.

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Should I Become a CAD Technician?

Computer-aided design (CAD) technicians - also known as drafters - create the technical drawings and plans used in the construction and manufacturing industries. For example, CAD design technicians will use a CAD-related software program to convert engineer and architectural designs into blueprints. In addition to having an understanding of how to operate CAD software programs, technicians must also understand engineering and architectural techniques, manufacturing systems, product data management, and building information modeling.

The majority of CAD design technicians work full-time. Most of their working hours are spent in an office setting, but some visits to job sites or meetings with designers may be required.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Architectural Drafting and Design
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Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Name Computer-aided design technology or similar field
Certification Voluntary certification is available
Experience On-the-job training may be necessary
Key Skills Critical thinking skills, working knowledge of CAD software, interpersonal skills, must be detail-oriented
Salary (2014) $54,850 per year (average salary for all drafters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2014), Monster.com (August 2012)

Step 1: Earn an Associate's Degree

CAD technology associate's degree programs will provide students with the knowledge and training necessary to work in the field. These programs are available at technical schools and community colleges. Students in a CAD technology program will have an opportunity to learn about CAD modeling and software, architectural and mechanical design, blueprint reading and technical problem-solving.

Success Tip

  • Participate in a practicum. Some programs may offer you the opportunity to work in a real world setting to prepare for employment after graduation. You may want to participate in a practicum in an industry that you want to find employment. This is a chance for you to create specific 2D and 3D drawings, develop drawings using geometric dimensions and convey and present technical information under the supervision of an experienced CAD technician.

Step 2: Complete On-The-Job Training

No matter what industry a CAD design technician finds employment, they will need to complete on-the-job training. It's important for CAD design technicians to learn about company policies and procedures regarding the creation and development of technical drawings. CAD design technicians will also need to familiarize themselves with certain architecture, manufacturing and engineering terms.

Step 3: Obtain Certification

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers professional certification to CAD technicians. According to the ADDA website, the benefits of certification include enhanced credibility in the field, improved job prospects and increased pay. In order to become certified, technicians will need to pass an examination, which tests a CAD design technician on architectural rulings and geometric building knowledge and competencies.

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