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How to Become an AutoCAD Designer

If you’re creative and love working with computers, becoming an AutoCAD designer may be a great career choice for you. An AutoCAD designer collaborates with architects and engineers to create technical drawings of their work. This position requires an artistic eye and great technical and computer skills.

AutoCAD designers are primarily responsible for creating 2D and 3D sketches provided by an engineer or architect to supplement their projects. This career is an entry-level computer design position that allows designers to apply the knowledge they’ve learned from previous math, science, design, and computer classes.

The design aspect of this position is usually completed independently, requiring workers to use their own creativity and self-management abilities. It is also important for workers in this position to be able to work with CAD software and other basic computer programs.

Sample job description

We are looking for an AutoCAD designer to join our team! If you have experience in the AutoCAD design field and have experience working closely with an engineer, this position might be for you! [Your Company Name] is looking for a professional, active, and fast AutoCAD designer to assist our engineer in relevant projects. Candidate tasks will include creating occasional, original designs and mocking up 2D sketches provided by the engineer. This position is part-time, but has the potential to become full-time. The candidate should have a good working knowledge of CAD software, engineering, and architecture. If this sounds your dream job, please apply! We would love to have you join our team.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Use computer-aided design (CAD) software to create drawings and plans
  • Collaborate with architects and engineers on projects
  • Determine the proper size and materials for products
  • Add details to architectural plans

Education and experience

AutoCAD designers need to earn a high school diploma or equivalent, with classes in math, science, design, and computer graphics. Graduates typically continue their education by earning an associate’s degree from a community college or certificate from a technical school. Professional certifications also are available.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong collaborative and interpersonal skills
  • Expertise in time management and the ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to understand technical drawings and plans
  • Advanced math and computer skills
  • Creativity and artistic ability
  • Keen attention to detail

Preferred qualifications

  • Familiar with AutoCAD software
  • Ability to self-manage
  • Bachelor’s degree in engineering or related field
  • 4+ years of experience

Typical work environment

AutoCAD designers will work in tandem with an engineer or architect in order to draft original designs and create 3D designs from scratch, by referencing 2D designs provided by the architect or engineer. An AutoCAD designer will have the responsibility of bringing these designs to fruition, ensuring they meet necessary standards, and calculating the number of resources required in order to create these projects. The drawings and models that AutoCAD designers are required to create can vary greatly, and include HVAC, electrical, and structural systems. These designers can work full or part-time depending on the position.

Typical hours

AutoCAD designers typically work regular hours, 9 AM to 5 PM, though they may need to log more than 40 hours a week sometimes. They will also need to visit construction sites to collaborate with architects or engineers.

Available certifications

AutoCAD designers benefit greatly from certifications. Some popular certifications with AutoCAD designers include:

  • Autodesk Certified Professional in AutoCAD for Design and Drafting. The Autodesk Certified Professional in AutoCAD certificate is an industry-recognized standard for AutoCAD designers. This certificate was created for advanced candidates in order to further their CAD skillsets revolving around AutoCAD and Autodesk. This program is offered by the official Autodesk company.
  • AutoCAD and Digital Manufacturing. The AutoCAD and Digital Manufacturing certificate is also offered by Autodesk, not only providing industry recognition, but assistance in training and understanding AutoCAD techniques. This certificate also offers digital manufacturing training in order to provide a comprehensive certificate for industry professionals.

Career path

The first step to becoming an AutoCAD designer is to earn a high school diploma or equivalent. Students can receive drafting certification from a technical school or an associate’s degree from a community college. Some graduates decide to specialize in a particular type of drafting, such as architectural or mechanical. The American Design Drafting Association also offers certifications, which will expand your career opportunities as an AutoCAD designer.

US, Bureau of Labor Statistics’ job outlook

SOC Code: 17-3010

2020 Employment191,800
Projected Employment in 2030188,200
Projected 2020-2030 Percentage Shift 2% decrease
Projected 2020-2030 Numeric Shift3,600 decrease

Population growth means that construction-related jobs, and superintendents, in particular, will continue to be in demand. Maintenance, improvements, and construction of roads and bridges will also create more job opportunities. The emphasis on environmentally friendly development and energy efficiency should give the industry a boost as well.

Job prospects in the construction industry tend to ebb and flow with the economy. However, architects and engineers are taking on more tasks that previously were handled by drafters, which means fewer job opportunities. The Construction Management Association of America offers career coaching, a learning center, and job listings for candidates.