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Become A Computer Aided Design Designer

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Working As A Computer Aided Design Designer

  • Interacting With Computers
  • Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
  • Getting Information
  • Documenting/Recording Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Repetitive

  • $48,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Computer Aided Design Designer Do

Drafters use software to convert the designs of architects and engineers into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Duties

Drafters typically do the following:

  • Design plans using computer-aided design (CAD) software
  • Work from rough sketches and specifications created by engineers and architects
  • Design products with engineering and manufacturing techniques
  • Add details to architectural plans from their knowledge of building techniques
  • Specify dimensions, materials, and procedures for new products
  • Work under the supervision of engineers or architects

Many drafters are referred to as CAD operators. Using CAD systems, drafters create and store technical drawings digitally. These drawings contain information on how to build a structure or machine, the dimensions of the project, and what materials are needed to complete the project.

Drafters work with CAD so they can create schematics that can be viewed, printed, or programmed directly into building information modeling (BIM) systems. These systems allow drafters, architects, construction managers, and engineers to create and collaborate on digital models of physical buildings and machines. Through three-dimensional rendering, BIM software allows designers and engineers to see how different elements in their projects work together.

Architectural drafters draw architectural and structural features of buildings for construction projects. These workers may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial. They may also specialize by the materials used, such as steel, wood, or reinforced concrete.

Civil drafters prepare topographical maps used in construction and civil engineering projects, such as highways, bridges, and flood-control projects.

Electrical drafters prepare wiring diagrams that other construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment and wiring in power plants, electrical distribution systems, and residential and commercial buildings.

Electronics drafters produce wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams for circuit boards, and layout drawings used in manufacturing and in installing and repairing electronic devices and components.

Mechanical drafters prepare layouts that show the details for a wide variety of machinery and mechanical tools and devices, such as medical equipment. These layouts indicate dimensions, fastening methods, and other requirements needed for assembly. Mechanical drafters sometimes create production molds.

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How To Become A Computer Aided Design Designer

Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate’s degree in drafting.

Education

Drafters generally need to complete postsecondary education in drafting. This is typically done through a 2-year associate’s degree from a technical institute or community college.

Technical institutes offer instruction in design fundamentals, sketching, and CAD (computer-aided design) software and award certificates or diplomas upon completion. Programs vary in length but are generally 2 years of full-time education. The types of courses offered will also vary by institution. Some institutions may specialize in only one type of drafting, such as mechanical or architectural drafting.

Community colleges offer programs similar to those in technical institutes that lead to an associate of applied science in drafting or related degree. After completing an associate’s degree program, graduates may get jobs as drafters or continue their education in a related field at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer training in drafting, but they do offer classes in engineering, architecture, and mathematics.

To prepare for postsecondary education, high school students who take courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and where available, drafting, may find such classes useful.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers certification for drafters. Although not mandatory, certification demonstrates competence and knowledge of nationally recognized practices. Certifications are offered for several specialties, including architectural, civil, and mechanical drafting.

Important Qualities

Creativity. Drafters must be able to turn plans and ideas into technical drawings that will guide the creation of real buildings, tools, and systems.

Detail oriented. Drafters must pay close attention to details so that the plans they convert are technically accurate according to the outlined specifications.

Interpersonal skills. Drafters work closely with architects, engineers, and other designers to make sure that final plans are accurate. This requires the ability to take advice and constructive criticism, as well as to offer it.

Math skills. Drafters work on technical drawings. They may be required to solve mathematical calculations involving factors such as angles, weights, and costs.

Technical skills. Drafters in all specialties must be able to use computer software, such as CAD, and work with database tools, such as BIM (building information modeling).

Time-management skills. Drafters often work under strict deadlines. As a result, they must work efficiently in order to produce the required output according to set schedules.

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Computer Aided Design Designer Career Paths

Computer Aided Design Designer
Designer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Designer Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Mechanical Engineer Manufacturing Engineer
Manufacturing Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Design Engineer Engineering Manager Engineering Director
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Designer Project Manager Product Manager
Product Development Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Senior Designer
Design Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Designer Project Engineer Construction Manager
Senior Project Manager Construction
13 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Electrical Engineer Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Senior Mechanical Designer Senior Mechanical Engineer
Mechanical Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Engineer Quality Assurance Engineer
Quality Assurance Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Design Engineer Product Engineer
Product Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Senior Designer Senior Design Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Information Technology Project Manager
Engineering Program Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Mechanical Design Engineer Senior Design Engineer
Design Engineering Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineer Consultant Architect
Architectural Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Engineer Maintenance Supervisor Facilities Maintenance Manager
Facilities Project Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Project Manager Owner/Operator Construction Manager
Commercial Project Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Electrical Designer Electrical Engineer Service Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Systems Administrator Senior Technologist Senior Engineering Technician
Engineering Laboratory Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Civil Designer Survey Project Manager GIS Project Manager
GIS Manager
7 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Computer Aided Design Designer?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Average Length of Employment
Computer Designer 4.3 years
Draftsman/Designer 4.3 years
Senior Designer 4.2 years
Design Drafter 4.0 years
Draftsman 3.8 years
Design Technician 3.5 years
Autocad Designer 3.5 years
Detailer/Designer 3.2 years
Drafting Engineer 3.0 years
Detail Drafter 3.0 years
Drafter 2.8 years
Top Careers Before Computer Aided Design Designer
Designer 9.2%
Draftsman 7.6%
Drafter 5.5%
Internship 3.3%
Top Careers After Computer Aided Design Designer
Designer 11.8%
Drafter 3.0%
Owner 2.9%
Engineer 2.7%

Do you work as a Computer Aided Design Designer?

Computer Aided Design Designer Demographics

Gender

Male

72.6%

Female

19.6%

Unknown

7.8%
Ethnicity

White

59.8%

Hispanic or Latino

16.6%

Black or African American

10.5%

Asian

9.2%

Unknown

3.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

46.7%

French

6.8%

Chinese

6.3%

Mandarin

6.0%

German

4.5%

Russian

4.2%

Japanese

3.6%

Italian

3.3%

Cantonese

3.0%

Vietnamese

2.7%

Carrier

2.4%

Portuguese

2.4%

Arabic

2.1%

Korean

1.5%

Hindi

1.2%

Bulgarian

0.9%

Tagalog

0.9%

Romanian

0.6%

Dutch

0.6%

Turkish

0.6%
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Computer Aided Design Designer Education

Schools

Fashion Institute of Technology

13.2%

University of Phoenix

8.4%

Macomb Community College

6.7%

Purdue University

6.3%

Pittsburgh Technical Institute

5.7%

University of Houston

5.5%

Houston Community College

5.1%

Arizona State University

4.6%

University of Central Florida

4.5%

Baker College

4.3%

Wentworth Institute of Technology

4.2%

Oakland Community College

3.8%

Lawrence Technological University

3.8%

Pennsylvania State University

3.8%

Ferris State University

3.7%

Savannah College of Art and Design

3.7%

Austin Community College

3.4%

Greenville Technical College

3.2%

Henry Ford College

3.1%

Western Michigan University

3.1%
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Majors

Drafting And Design

31.6%

Mechanical Engineering

11.5%

Graphic Design

7.5%

Architecture

6.4%

Business

6.3%

Civil Engineering

4.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.5%

Engineering

3.5%

Mechanical Engineering Technology

3.3%

Interior Design

3.2%

Industrial Technology

3.0%

Computer Science

2.9%

Fine Arts

2.2%

Engineering Technology

2.0%

Project Management

1.7%

Construction Management

1.6%

Environmental Design

1.4%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.4%

Architectural Technology

1.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

1.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

32.6%

Associate

28.4%

Other

23.4%

Masters

7.6%

Certificate

5.9%

Diploma

1.7%

Doctorate

0.3%

License

0.1%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$48,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$34,000
Min 10%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$48,000
Median 50%
$67,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Jacobs Engineering Group
Highest Paying City
San Francisco, CA
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
4.4 years
How much does a Computer Aided Design Designer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Computer Aided Design Designer in the United States is $48,491 per year or $23 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $34,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $67,000.

Real Computer Aided Design Designer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
CAD Specialist National Steel & Shipbuilding Company San Diego, CA Oct 21, 2016 $125,628
CAD Designer/Product Engineer Futuris Automotive (Us) Inc. Newark, CA Jun 15, 2015 $124,800
CAD Designer/Product Engineer Futuris Automotive (Us) Inc. Newark, CA Jun 01, 2015 $124,800
CAD Designer/Product Engineer Futuris Automotive (Us) Inc. Newark, CA Jan 02, 2016 $120,000
CAD Designer/Product Engineer Futuris Automotive (Us) Inc. Newark, CA Apr 15, 2016 $120,000
CAD Designer Chassis Coda Automotive Los Angeles, CA Aug 06, 2012 $110,157
CAD Designer American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. New York, NY Jan 26, 2012 $110,000
CAD Designer Omnivision Technologies, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Jul 16, 2016 $110,000
CAD Designer American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. New York, NY Feb 25, 2013 $110,000
CAD Designer Omnivision Technologies, Inc. Santa Clara, CA Jul 16, 2013 $105,000
Product Design Computer-Aided Design Specialist Lab126 Cupertino, CA May 16, 2011 $105,000
CAD Application Specialist Human Solutions of North America, Inc. Cary, NC Jul 01, 2013 $73,200
Architect/CAD Designer Christopher Jeffrey Architect, PLLC New York, NY Aug 03, 2012 $73,045 -
$102,263
Architectural Drafter/CAD Designer Christopher Jeffrey Architects, PLLC New York, NY Aug 03, 2012 $73,045 -
$83,480
CAD Designer Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Co. New Albany, OH Jul 27, 2015 $72,010 -
$115,000
CAD Designer Tata Technologies, Inc. Novi, MI Sep 06, 2015 $71,344
Cad/Cam Designer Tech Mahindra (Americas), Inc. Bellville, TX May 29, 2015 $71,000
CAD Designer Tata Technologies, Inc. Novi, MI Oct 09, 2016 $70,741
Cad/Cam Specialist Tata Consultancy Services Limited Santa Clara, CA Jan 13, 2011 $65,400
Designer/Cad Designer Macy's Merchandising Group, Inc. New York, NY Jan 05, 2012 $65,000
CAD Designer Uniplan Engineering, Inc. Carson, CA Sep 12, 2011 $64,147
Structural CAD Designer Stanley Spurling & Hamilton, Inc. Houston, TX Dec 09, 2014 $64,085
SR. Structural CAD Designer/It Support OVE ARUP and Partners California Limited Chicago, IL Jun 04, 2016 $64,000
CAD Software Designer Seeknet USA Torrance, CA Oct 01, 2013 $62,587
CAD Drafter/Designer Cynergy Systems Inc. Gastonia, NC Jan 08, 2016 $62,317
CAD Designer Mitsubishi Power Systems Americas Inc. Lake Mary, FL Feb 01, 2011 $60,500

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Top Skills for A Computer Aided Design Designer

  1. CAD
  2. Engineering Department
  3. Layout
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Developed customer cabinetry drawings based on provided sketches utilizing AutoCAD design.
  • Designed and input custom lighting fixtures/units utilizing AutoCAD R2000-2002 into RSA's database for engineering department.
  • Coordinated and consulted with other workers to design layout or detail components, systems and to resolve design or other problems.
  • Support founders challenge for new business development and strategic partnerships.
  • Developed solid models from engineering specifications as requested along with details and Bill of Materials.

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Top 10 Best States for Computer Aided Design Designers

  1. Washington
  2. Arizona
  3. Ohio
  4. Colorado
  5. Oklahoma
  6. Connecticut
  7. Texas
  8. Michigan
  9. Minnesota
  10. California
  • (262 jobs)
  • (180 jobs)
  • (251 jobs)
  • (218 jobs)
  • (76 jobs)
  • (117 jobs)
  • (617 jobs)
  • (245 jobs)
  • (208 jobs)
  • (1,554 jobs)

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