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How to Position Yourself for a Successful CAD Career

Written on:March 19, 2012
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Computer-aided design (CAD) is used to design products in nearly every industry from automobiles to rehabilitation technology. If you have the experience needed to create sleek CAD projects, you may be perfectly positioned for a career in this field. Though CAD designers need to be experienced with technology, having a niche expertise in another field is useful as well to help you produce better designs for a certain industry. Consider your dream job in CAD design and engineering and obtain a specialized education in that area for the best job opportunities.

Education
Careers in CAD designing can be very competitive, so the higher your education is, the better your chances will be for landing a job. A 4-year degree is highly preferred by most employers, though you can obtain a 2-year degree in this field from many technical colleges. You can begin preparing for a job in this field in high school by focusing on courses in math, computer technology and design. You can then follow this with a specialized 2-year course at a community or technical college and two more years of study in a related field at a 4-year institution. Architecture, engineering and math courses transfer well to a career in CAD designing.

Certification
Specialized certification isn’t a requirement for a career in CAD design, but it can be very useful for getting an edge in this competitive field. Employment for drafters is expected to grow by only 4 percent in the 2008 to 2018 decade according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. CAD drafters can obtain certification from the American Design Drafting Association. This association provides both drafter certification and AutoCAD certification. These voluntary certifications will demonstrate proficiency in the field and are especially useful if you don’t have much practical work experience yet to back up your skills.

Job Opportunities
CAD designers can work in many different fields. Mechanical designers assist engineers in design and drafting. CAD drafters can work in the fields of aerospace engineering, architecture and biomechanical engineering. If you’re interested in a specific field, taking courses related to this field will be very useful for positioning yourself for a specific job. You will need to know about human anatomy and physiology to work in biomechanical engineering. An understanding of aerodynamics is essential for a career in aerospace engineering.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for drafters was $48,190 as of May 2010. Commercial and industrial designers had a mean annual salary of $61,890 in the same period. This can be a very lucrative career for those who have the education and experience needed to land the prime jobs. With minimal job growth in the field, it’s important for those interested in CAD design to obtain as much education as possible for the best opportunities.

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