An AutoCAD technician uses computer-aided drafting software to create blueprints used in industries such as construction, manufacturing, aeronautics, and electronics. In addition to proficiency with software, they must have a solid knowledge of the principles behind non-computerized drafting techniques. A certificate or associate's degree is typically required for this career.
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Drafters draw up blueprints and plans for the construction of buildings, machinery and the like using computer-aided drafting (CAD) software. Drafters find jobs in many industries, and the specific duties and career outlook of AutoCAD professionals vary with the sector that employs them. No specific degree program is required, but students often earn a certificate or an associate's degree to prepare them for work in this field.
|Required Education||Certificate or associate's degree|
|Additional Requirements||Voluntary certification available|
|Projected Job Outlook (2014-2024)||-3% for all drafters*|
|Average Salary (2015)||$56,610 annually for mechanical drafters*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
AutoCAD technicians are drafters, professionals who create technical drawings used in the construction of products and materials. Their drawing is carried out with specific CAD software. Working electronically allows drafters to more quickly prepare and edit schemata, which in turn facilitates a more efficient production process. Despite their electronic emphasis, though, computerized drafters still require knowledge of traditional pen-and-paper drafting techniques, in order to better understand the principles behind their work.
The plans created by drafters are employed by many different industries. For example, architectural and civil drafters work in construction and draw up outlines for buildings, highways, pipelines and more. Mechanical, electrical and electronics drafters create plans for circuitry and equipment. Drafters are also used in the aeronautical industry, where they design aircraft, missiles and the like.
Community colleges and technical institutes offer courses in CAD technology. Students may earn a certificate or an associate's degree. Certificate programs are generally briefer and require only a few classes in AutoCAD drafting, while associate's degree programs typically last two years and include general education classes in addition to specific coursework in drafting, design and manufacturing. Associate's degrees in the field also give students the option to later continue their education in a 4-year program such as manufacturing engineering technology or even business management.
Universities usually don't offer 4-year programs in drafting. However, prospective drafting students might consider taking courses in engineering, mathematics and architecture. In addition, bachelor's degree programs in mechanical engineering technology might include specific courses on CAD technology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) forecasts drafting jobs to decline between 2014 and 2024 (www.bls.gov). However, some drafting specializations are predicted to fare better than others. In particular, electrical and electronics drafters were expected to see job opportunities rise 5%, which is about average compared to all job sectors. In 2015, the BLS listed an average yearly salary for mechanical drafters of $56,610, while architectural and civil drafters were said to bring in an average of $53,470 per year at that time.
An AutoCAD technician can develop blueprints for any number of projects, such as pipelines, highways, missiles, and circuitry. Although the BLS predicts that drafting jobs overall will decline between 2014-2024, it also estimates that electronics drafters could see as much as a 5% increase in new employment opportunities during this same period.