CAD stands for computer aided drafting, and specialists with these programs have the opportunity to engage in work that is both profitable and enjoyable. Becoming a CAD specialist is the one of the first steps toward a drafting career in both the private and public sectors.
What Does A CAD Program Specialist Do?
Engineers, architects, and designers all use CAD programs. CAD can be used to visualize and create models at the molecular level as well as to draw floor plans, computer components, and other objects. A CAD program specialist works with these professionals to utilize this software to create products for customers.
A CAD programmer is often referred to as a “drafter” although drafting can also be done without the aid of computers.
How Much Do CAD Program Specialists Make?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, drafters earned a median salary of 47,880 per year in 2010. The lowest-paid earned $30,950 per year while the highest-paid earned more than $74,820 per year.
The amount drafters or CAD specialists earn depends, in part, on the field in which they work. Architectural and civil engineering drafters earned a median salary of $53,020, while mechanical drafters, who design machine parts, earn a median salary of $48,810. Electrical drafters earn a median salary of $46,430, while all other types of drafters earn a median salary of $45,100.
What is the Job Outlook for CAD Program Specialist?
Unfortunately the job numbers for drafters in general are down for the next few years. A tightening job market means that there will be a projected growth of only six percent for the next ten years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, potential CAD students should not take this as a reason to abandon their dreams of studying computer aided design. The growth in this field and the potential job opportunities will most likely go to those who have computer skills rather than pen-and-paper drafters. Jobs may be tighter in the construction sector than in other areas, as well, so maybe consider studying for computer aided drafting in areas other than architecture and floor plans for maximum job opportunity.
What Type of Education Do I Need to become a CAD Specialist?
Most drafters or CAD specialists have at least an associate’s degree from an accredited school. Vocational colleges often include drafting as part of their curriculum, and many will tailor programs for the educational goals of students. If you want to become a CAD specialist in a particular field, talk to your school’s drafting and design department to see what courses of study are available.
Some drafters and designers have a four-year degree, as well. These students usually major in fine art or engineering and study CAD as part of their curriculum in a given course of study. If you choose the four-year path you may be able to command a higher salary on graduation, especially if you choose your electives carefully. Try to find classes that will support your general field of study. In other words, if you are interested in designing computer components, take computer classes as electives; if you prefer drafting plans for machine parts, engineering classes might be a good choice for you.
Where Can I Find A Job as a CAD Specialist?
CAD specialists work in the fields of engineering and architecture as well as software development. Within each of these fields, there are several sub-fields from which you can choose to look for employment. For example, in the computer design fields, you might work for a new software company, a business that builds computer components, or a telecommunications company that designs apps for phones. In the field of engineering, you can literally work in any area you choose, from biological or molecular engineering to fabrication of metals or other products. Many large companies hire in-house drafters to design components for everything from plant machinery to product parts.
Opportunities for your CAD specialist career are often limited only by your imagination.