Become a CAD Technician: Education and Career Roadmap

Learn how to become a computer-aided design (CAD) technician. Research the education and career requirements, licensure and experience required for starting a career as a CAD technician.

Should I Become a CAD Technician?

Computer-aided design (CAD) technicians, also known as drafters, use CAD software to create technical drawings of various projects and products. These technicians often work under the supervision of engineers and architects, and the plans they help create are used to specify dimensions and determine the types of materials needed. CAD technicians often need to travel to work sites.

Prospective CAD technicians generally need to earn an associate's degree, such as an Associate of Applied Science in Computer-aided Design Technology. Programs at this level can train students to become proficient in CAD software programs and create detailed drawings.

Career Requirements

Degree Level Associate's degree
Degree Field CAD technology, drafting or another related field
Key Skills Technical drawing, attention to detail, critical-thinking; software programs, including Graphisoft ArchiCAD, Solid Edge, AutoCAD, Architectural Desktop and MicroStation
Salary (2014) $49,990 (median for drafters)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Earn an Undergraduate Degree

An associate's degree program can prepare students for employment in the field by teaching them how to design and create computer graphic applications. Students can find related programs through technical institutions and community colleges. Programs may cover topics in designing 3D models, geometric construction, creating solid modeling drawings and communicating technical information. Examples of other relevant courses include mechanical drafting, geometric dimensioning, electro-mechnical layout and architectural drawing. Students may also have an opportunity to work in a laboratory and apply what they have learned in a classroom setting.

Step 2: Gain Experience

Some programs may include an internship or a practicum as an elective or degree requirement. Experience can be gained by training and learning in a professional setting under the guidance of an experienced CAD technician. This can include creating drawings and images using CAD software programs and working with other professionals in the workplace. While a practicum or an internship may lead to an entry-level job, it can also provide individuals with some experience in the field, which may be required by employers.

Success Tip

Develop key skills in the field. Working with professionals can help develop the time-management and communication skills commonly used in the field. It can also be important to learn to take constructive criticism and develop the ability to meet deadlines.

Step 3: Obtain ADDA Certification

While not required by employers, earning certification through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) can demonstrate knowledge and skills in the field. Certification can enhance job marketability, salary opportunities and credibility. In order to become certified, individuals must pass the Drafter Certification Examination.

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