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AutoCAD Designer: Job Outlook and Career Profile

AutoCAD designers require little formal education. Learn about the training options, job duties and available certifications to see if this is the right career for you.

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As an AutoCad designer, you have myriad possibilities upon which you can direct your professional focus. Options include industrial designer, electrical drafter, civil drafter, and mechanical drafter, each with unique salary and outlook prospects.

Essential Information

As competition heats up, companies must ramp up productivity in design and manufacturing technologies. AutoCAD designers are widely used in the engineering, architecture and construction fields.

Career Title Industrial Designer Electrical and Electronics Drafter Architectural and Civil Drafter Mechanical Drafter
Required Education Bachelor's degree Post-secondary technical certificate Post-secondary technical certificate Post-secondary technical certificate
Other Requirements n/a Voluntary professional certification Voluntary professional certification Voluntary professional certification
Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 3% growth 3% growth 2% growth 7% decline
Average Annual Salary (May 2018)* $66,590 $60,070 $54,920 $55,920

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Profile

AutoCAD is a computer-aided design software program used in many industries, including architecture, engineering, construction and interior design. AutoCAD allows the user to create 2D and 3D drawings using visualization and technical documentation. This software program increases productivity in manufacturing and design, replacing the need for manual drawings and designs.

Occupational Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of industrial designers was expected to grow 3% between 2018 and 2028, while drafters in general would actually see little or no change, although that number varies by type of drafter (www.bls.gov). The best opportunities should arise for drafters with experience and formal training using CAD (computer-aided design) technology.

In May 2018, industrial and commercial designers earned an annual mean wage of $66,590. Electrical and electronics drafters earned an average salary of $60,070, while architectural and civil drafters earned an average salary of $54,920 the same year. Mechanical drafters took in an average annual salary of $55,920, stated the BLS.

Educational Requirements

To work in this industry, workers need strong foundations in AutoCAD, which - depending on the career path desired - can be obtained through certificate, associate's degree or bachelor's degree programs offering a curriculum rich in AutoCAD and CAD-related courses. Programs are offered through many universities and colleges and in private design and art schools. Typical program courses include AutoCAD I, II and III, ProEngineer, geometric dimensioning and tolerancing, drafting, blueprint reading, SolidWorks, industrial manufacturing processes, 3D modeling, rapid prototyping and Unix for CAD users.

Certification

Although certification is typically not required for drafters, many find it a useful credential when seeking employment. Drafters who would like to obtain certification can do so by passing the Drafter Certification Test through the American Design Drafting Association. Individuals must show competence in basic drafting concepts to pass the test. An AutoCAD designer can also take the AutoCAD Certified Associate exam to demonstrate his or her proficiency in AutoCAD.

Aspiring AutoCAD designers can benefit from educational opportunities, while established professionals can take advantage of certification and continuing education to hone their skills. Industrial designers benefit from the highest salary, while electrical and electronics drafters can expect the most positive career outlook in the coming decade.

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