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Computer-Aided Drafting and Design (CADD) Salary and Career Info

Computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) careers require little formal education. Learn about the training, job duties and salary projections to see if this is the right career for you.

Computer-aided drafting and design professionals use specialized software to create blueprints or schematics to illustrate how a structure or item should be made. They may work on plans for buildings, or mechanical or electronic equipment.

Essential Information

Computer-aided drafting and design operators, also called drafters, create plans and technical drawings that are used in the construction of electronic, architectural and mechanical items. They learn to use CADD through certificate and associate's degree programs. Salaries vary by industry, but pay usually tops out around $63,000, according to PayScale.com 2016.

Required Education Certificate or associate's degree in drafting
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* -3% for all drafters
Median Salary (2016) $44,927 for all CADD operators**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com.

Computer-Aided Drafting and Design Salary Information

CADD salaries vary depending on a person's drafting specialty. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), mechanical drafters earned a median annual salary of $53,520 in 2015, while architectural and civil drafters made median pay of $48,800 (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com reported that as of January 2016, most CADD operators made salaries between $33,083 and $63,572. The site indicated that the majority of CADD technicians earned slightly less at $29,919 to $62,542 annually.

CADD Career Information

Job Duties

CADD operators use design software to create technical plans to show how products or structures are intended to be made. CADD drawings may include specifications, procedures and materials that engineers, scientists and architects can put to use. Computerized plans allow for quick changes to be built into designs.

Career Options

CADD drafters can have various specialties. For instance, drafters may work in fields such as:

  • Aeronautics
  • Civil engineering
  • Architecture
  • Process pipelines
  • Mechanics
  • Electronics

Training Requirements

In order to find entry-level employment in CADD drafting, individuals must be proficient with CADD systems. CADD training programs are available through technical or community colleges as certificate or associate's degree programs.

Programs might include courses in 2- and 3-dimensional design rendering, as well as technical drafting. Additional training and voluntary certification in CADD software is available from vendors.

Career Outlook

As per BLS projections, drafting jobs in general are predicted to decline 3% between 2014 and 2024. The same report noted that people entering into the electrical and electronics drafting specialty were predicted to have the best career opportunities. Jobs in that specialty are expected to grow by 5% from 2014 to 2024, which is close to the average rate for all U.S. professions.

Computer-aided drafting and design professionals can specialize in a number of fields, including architecture, mechanics, aeronautics and civil engineering. They are required to complete a certificate or associate's degree that trains them to use computer-aided drafting and design software. Professional certification is optional.

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