Becoming an AutoCAD Technician: Salary Info & Job Description

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Learn about an AutoCAD technician's job description, salary and training requirements. Get straight talk about the pros and cons of an AutoCAD technician career.
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Pros and Cons of Working as an AutoCAD Technician

An AutoCAD technician is also known as a technical drafter. These technicians use AutoCAD software to generate 2-D and 3-D technical plans and sketches for engineers, architects and other industrial workers. Read on to learn the pros and cons to figure out if this is the right career for you.

Pros of an AutoCAD Technician Career
Many different fields require AutoCAD technicians*
An associate degree is often sufficient for an entry-level position*
Most technicians work standard 40-hour weeks*
Get to work in a comfortable environment*

Cons of an AutoCAD Technician Career
Employment growth is dependent on specialization and industry*
Drafters are typically hired in industries that are very sensitive to changes in the economy*
Continuing education is often necessary for career advancement*
Susceptible to eyestrain and hand and wrist discomfort*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information

Job Description

AutoCAD technicians digitally generate the drawings that are used to instruct and guide manufacturers and builders. They typically used a computer-aided design program, such as AutoCAD, to create detailed drawings that provide a blueprint or schematic needed to complete a project to scale. As an AutoCAD technician, you may create plans for items and structures ranging from bridges and skyscrapers to airplanes and electronics. While drafters often work for architecture and engineering firms, you may also find opportunities with electrical and electronic manufacturers, metal product manufacturers and transportation equipment manufacturers.

Specializations

AutoCAD technicians are hired in many different industries and the nature of their specific duties is largely dependent on the industry in which they work. While drafters often work for architecture and engineering firms, you may also find opportunities with electrical and electronic manufacturers, metal product manufacturers and transportation equipment manufacturers.

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the BLS, employment opportunities for all drafters will have little to no change between 2012 and 2022. Specifically, the agency projects a one percent increase in jobs during that time period. Job candidates with experience with project delivery management and building information modeling are predicted to have the most promising opportunities for work.

Your salary may differ depending on what type of drafting you are doing. For instance, in 2014, the BLS reported that architectural drafters earned a mean annual salary of about $52,000 while electrical and electronics drafters earned an average approximately $62,000 per year. Mechanical drafters earned an average annual salary of around $55,000 at that same time.

What Are the Requirements?

Typically, you need some postsecondary training to obtain an entry-level AutoCAD technician job. Relevant training options include certificate, diploma and associate degree programs in drafting technology or computer-aided drafting and design. These programs often include course topics in using CAD software, design techniques and sketching. Some employers, such as those of architectural drafters, may prefer to hire AutoCAD technicians with bachelor's degrees.

In addition to your technical training, many employers seek candidates with sharp mechanical drawing abilities. You also need specialized skills based on the type of industry you want to work. For example, an AutoCAD technician working for an architecture firm will also need to know the technical specifications and qualities of buildings.

Real Job Listings

Specific training and education requirements for drafting jobs often differ depending on the specific employer. For an example, read the below excepts of real job postings for AutoCAD technicians, found online in March 2012.

  • A West Virginia consulting firm is seeking an AutoCAD technician to work on local transportation projects. The successful candidate must hold an associate degree and have at least three years of CAD experience in the gas and oil industry.
  • A Pennsylvania engineering firm would like to hire a senior CAD technician to oversee several different drafting projects. In order to qualify for this job, you must have a minimum of seven years of experience and proficient knowledge of computers and geometry. You must also have strong communication and organizational skills.
  • A Washington company seeks an AutoCAD technician to produce vicinity maps, site plans and other types of sketches. The company prefers an employee who holds an associate degree and at least five years of drafting experience. A successful candidate must also have problem solving skills and the ability to work independently.

How to Stand Out in this Field

In addition to your technical skills and educational background, you may want to look into other ways to distinguish yourself as an AutoCAD technician. One way to do this is to obtain a certification credential.

Drafting Certification

You can receive certification for your drafting skills and experience from the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). Although most employers do not require you to have certification, it can demonstrate your understanding of the field. The certification exam tests applicants on many different aspects of their work, including working drawings, architectural terms and basic drafting abilities.

AutoCAD Certification

Autodesk, the manufacturer of AutoCAD, offers a training and certification program. Obtaining Autodesk certification demonstrates your skill level to potential employers, and the company will add your name to a national database of certified AutoCAD users.

Career Alternatives

If you don't think a career as an AutoCAD technician is a good fit for you, there are some other jobs you may want to explore.

Architect

Architects not only create drawings and plans, but also work on the overall design, construction and functionality of private and public buildings. Becoming an architect demands more academic and professional training than that of an AutoCAD technician, but they also earn more. The BLS reports that architects earned a median annual salary of about $73,000 in 2011. The agency also projects that employment opportunities for architects will increase 24% between 2010 and 2020.

Industrial Designer

Industrial designers develop the look, functionality and construction of manufactured products. Similar to drafters, these designers generate digital plans and sketches of their designs, present them to manufacturers and supervise the execution of their plans. The BLS projects that jobs for industrial designers will increase about ten percent between 2010 and 2020; however, there will be a high level of competition for available jobs. The BLS also reported that these designers earned a median annual salary of $60,800 in 2011.

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