Should I Become a Mold Designer?
Mold designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software and technologies to create plastic mold designs used in the manufacturing of a variety of everyday items. Like most CAD users, mold designers typically work in an office environment; however, they might have to visit laboratory or manufacturing settings to see if their mold design is effective.
|Degree Level||Associate's degree|
|Degree Field||Tool and manufacturing technology, plastics engineering technology|
|Experience||5-8 years of experience in the field|
|Key Skills||Problem solving, operation monitoring; experience with Pro-E, Solidworks, Unigraphics Drawing, time accounting software, Microsoft Office Suite, and AutoCAB; ability to use molding machines and other powered mobile equipment|
|Salary (2016)||$63,543 (median annual wage)|
Sources: Job postings accessed in August, 2015 Occupational Information Network
Mold designers typically have associate's degrees in tool and manufacturing technology or plastics engineering technology, with 5-8 years of experience in the field. They are expected to be strong in problem solving and operation monitoring, and have experience with Pro-E, Solidworks, Unigraphics Drawing, time accounting software, Microsoft Office Suite, and AutoCAB. They are also able to use molding machines and other powered mobile equipment.
According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary for mold makers, which include mold designers, was $63,543 in 2016.
Steps to Become a Mold Designer
What steps to I need to take to become a mold designer?
Step 1: Complete an Associate's Degree Program
Many community colleges and technical schools offer associate's degree programs in plastics engineering technology or manufacturing technology. Plastics engineering technology programs may offer courses in different aspects of plastics technology, including mold design and mold making. While not as specific, manufacturing technology programs offer courses in plastics manufacturing and machining technology. Both of these programs offer CAD courses that teach students to design through programs like AutoCAD.
Step 2: Find an Apprenticeship
Employers may offer a variety of apprenticeships to those who have a high school diploma or college degree. In some cases, colleges may help an aspiring mold designer obtain an apprenticeship. Apprentices in mold design can earn money for their training and college credit as well. These programs can take up to four years to complete. During an apprenticeship, students may be required to complete specific courses, like industrial mathematics, machining practices, and fluid power.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of 2002, plastics mold design was recognized as a registered and apprenticeable occupation that requires at least 144 hours of classroom instruction and 2000 hours of work experience (www.bls.gov). In addition, the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Apprenticeship Training, Employer, and Labor Services provides additional information on finding apprenticeships.
- Check with a school's career center for potential apprenticeships. Many community colleges can assist a student in securing an apprenticeship and in preparation for entering the workforce.
Step 3: Enter the Workforce
After completing an apprenticeship, mold designers can work for many types of manufacturers. They can receive further on-the-job training to work with CAD software, read blueprints, render mold designs, and devise and interpret mathematical formulas and calculations. In addition, mold designers may also work closely with customers or be responsible for quality control in the manufacturing process.
Step 4: Advance Your Career
Workers who gain solid experience as mold designers and possess important qualities such as critical thinking, organizational skills, good time management, and especially math and technical skills will have the highest chance of advancing their careers. Though licensure is not required, there are different types of licenses and certifications that mold designers can obtain to also increase their chances of advancing within a company.
Mold designers create mold designs used in the manufacturing of a variety of items. They have many years of education and training; they use sophisticated software and equipment; they earn a median annual salary of $63,543.