How to Become an AutoCAD Designer in 5 Steps

Designers who are trained in the use of AutoCAD software work as drafters for a variety of engineering, architectural, and construction organizations. The most common educational path is a two-year degree in an AutoCAD specific program or a related program in drafting and design technology. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What is an AutoCad Designer?

AutoCad designers are drafters that specialize in the use of computer-aided design software to create digital technical drawings. Often they are given hand drawings from architects or engineers and then asked to digitally recreate them. When creating these drawings they may need to add details like detentions, materials used and production procedures. Some times they may even play a role in the design and production of a product. The table below provides some details about a career as an AutoCad Designer:

Degree RequiredAssociate's
Education Field of StudyDrafting, AutoCad, Design Technology
Key ResponsibilitiesTurn architectural and technical drawings into digital drawings using specialized software
Licensure RequirementsVoluntary certification available
Job Growth (2014-2024)*-3% (for all drafters)
Median Salary (2015)*$52,720 (for all drafters)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Step 1: Research Career Duties and Education

AutoCAD is a computer-aided design software produced by Autodesk (www.autodesk.com) used to prepare two- or three-dimensional drawings used commonly in construction, architecture, and engineering. An AutoCAD designer is trained in using this specific software. Many AutoCAD designers work as drafters creating drawings or visual representations used as guidelines during the construction or production of a structure or product. AutoCAD designers complete training programs, which include instruction in this software.

Step 2: Complete a Training Program

Many community colleges or vocational schools offer programs in AutoCAD design. Some focus specifically on AutoCAD and others focus on drafting or design technology and incorporate AutoCAD training into the curriculum. Many of these programs lead to a two-year associate's degree, which is the preferred training by employers of drafters, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). In these programs, students learn industry drafting and design standards and gain proficiency in using computer-aided design software.

Step 3: Consider Certification

Autodesk offers an optional AutoCAD certification. This certification may demonstrate a level of proficiency and professionalism to potential employers. The certified associate exam tests applicants on common tasks, tools, and features of the software. The certified professional exam tests applicants on their ability to use the software to complete specific tasks. Other professional organizations, such as the American Design Drafting Association (www.adda.org) offers relevant certification in the area of drafting.

Step 4: Secure Employment

AutoCAD designers are prepared for drafting jobs in a variety of areas, including aeronautical, architectural, electrical, and mechanical drafting. While the BLS predicts that employment for drafters will decline by three percent between 2014 and 2024, some demand still exists. And drafters with AutoCAD or other computer-aided design training should have an advantage. Most jobs are with architectural, engineering, and other related services firms that work under contract designing construction projects and providing engineering services.

Step 5: Advance Your Career

AutoCAD designers generally start out in entry-level positions under supervision and progress to positions with more responsibility and authority. Some eventually move into senior-level supervisor positions. Those who seek certification or continuing education may see better advancement opportunities. Some AutoCAD designers pursue further degrees to become architects, engineers, or other related professionals.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

If you are more interested the design aspects of AutoCad designing, you may want to pursue a career as an engineer or an architect. There are many different types of architects and engineers. In general, architects design and plan the construction of residential and commercial buildings. Civil engineers and design plan the construction of infrastructure, such as transportation and utilities. Mechanical engineers design mechanical devices and their individual parts. Outside of architecture and engineering, those interested in the use of software like AutoCad may also pursue a career as an industrial designer.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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