Auto CAD Designer: Summary of Education Programs

Sep 29, 2019

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an AutoCAD designer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and certifications to find out if this is the career for you.

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AutoCAD designers can find employment in a variety of industries, including fashion, architecture and machine fabrication. Learning to use AutoCAD software entails formal training, usually through certificate or associate's degree programs. Certification is also available for drafters, and can be helpful when seeking employment.

Essential Information

Students who enjoy designing may want to explore a career in AutoCAD design. AutoCAD is a computer software used for 2-D and 3-D design and drafting. AutoCAD designers usually receive a post-secondary certificate or associate's degree in applied science prior to landing their first drafting position. Concentrations include mechanical drafting or electrical drafting among other specializations.

Recommended Education Post-secondary certificate or associate's degree*
Other Recommended Requirements American Design Drafting Association certification*
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 0% (for all drafters)*
Median Salary (2019) $52,000**

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; **Payscale.com

General Job Overview for AutoCAD Designers

AutoCAD designers are professionals who use computer-aided design (CAD) software programs for drafting and drawing 2- and 3-dimensional drawings. Often, AutoCAD designers work with engineers, architects and interior designers to design buildings, machinery or room designs. Most importantly, they help to create plans that can be used by other architectural professionals.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CAD programs like AutoCAD are also becoming widely used in the fashion industry (www.bls.gov). Professional designers often do manual sketches and transfer them onto a computer where AutoCAD designers make adjustments and alterations on virtual models, saving time and money.

The BLS reported that all drafters are expected to experience minimal or no change in job growth from 2018-2028. Mechanical drafters are likely to see the fewest new jobs, with minus seven percent growth during that time. Electrical and electronics drafters, on the other hand, will experience increase slower than average at a projected rate of 3% in the same time frame. As of September 2019, the median salary for AutoCAD drafters was $52,000, per Payscale.com.

Education Overview to Become AutoCAD Designers

Formal training and education is usually required for those who want to become AutoCAD designers. By enrolling in an AutoCAD program, students are able to further develop their understanding and ability to use AutoCAD. Employers also prefer to hire those who have some formal training or experience. Although AutoCAD may be taken as an individual course, the subject can also be studied through a degree program.

AutoCAD Certificate Programs

Some schools offer AutoCAD certificate programs for those interested in learning computer-aided design. While the program offers a certificate rather than a full degree, graduates are qualified for entry-level drafting positions. Students learn AutoCAD essentials and AutoCAD intermediate as well as becoming familiar with 3-D visualization.

Associate in Applied Science in Electronics Engineering Technology

This program, typically two years in length, trains students to assistant electrical and electronics engineers in designing, developing and testing electronic systems. In addition to courses in electronic circuitry and engineering technology, students take an introductory course in AutoCAD.

Associate of Applied Science in Mechanical CAD Drafting and Design

Graduates of this program often find work as mechanical drafters in engineering departments of manufacturing companies. They may begin as drafters and advance to higher positions. Although students learn about machining fundamentals and computer technology, AutoCAD drafting makes up a large portion of the curriculum. Mechanical drafting may also be offered as a diploma program.

Certification for AutoCAD Designers

Although certification isn't required of drafters, employers often prefer hiring individuals that have earned the credential. The American Design Drafting Association has developed a certification for aspiring drafters.

To obtain certification, individuals must pass the Drafter Certification Test, which tests students on geometric designs, basic drafting principles and architectural terminology. Students completing AutoCAD programs are also qualified to take an AutoCAD certified associate and AutoCAD certified professional exam for certification.

AutoCAD designers take plans from engineers, architects, and other designers to create 2D and 3D designs. Certificate program in AutoCAD technology can help aspiring designers get entry level positions, while a 2-year associate's degree can help them start with a drafting position at a company. AutoCAD courses can also usually be found within engineering programs at many colleges and universities.

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