Computer-aided design (CAD) has changed manufacturing as we know it. Gone are the days of drawing out sketches and designs by hand. Today, designers and engineers can look forward to accurate, precise, and high-tech design plans for products because of CAD innovations.
CAD specialists enjoy a career that is a blend of artistic innovation, mechanical aptitude, and cutting-edge technology. They benefit from a creative yet mathematical career, working alongside designers, architects, engineers, and contractors. If you are seeking a career that is evolving, in-demand, and innovative, computer-aided design is a great field for you.
Most CAD specialists begin with a postsecondary certificate, on-the-job training, or a combination of the two. As you consider your next steps, you may be wondering, “Where can a CAD certificate take me?” and specifically, “What jobs can I get with a CAD certificate?”
Let’s explore your options.
Drafting Jobs with a CAD Certificate
Drafters are key members of the manufacturing team. These professionals use CAD software to convert designs into technical drawings that will be used to build products. CAD drafters not only operate computer-aided design software, but also design products with engineering and building techniques, specifying the size, materials, and procedures needed for development. To become a CAD drafter, you need some postsecondary training. A CAD certificate, or computer-aided design certificate, is a great way to break into the drafting field. With a CAD certificate, you can obtain exciting job titles such as:
- Architectural Drafter
Architectural drafters specialize in buildings and construction, drawing structural features and details that will be used for construction projects. These drafters may specialize in a type of building, such as residential or commercial, or in certain materials, such as steel, wood, or concrete.
- Civil Drafter
Civil drafters assist with civil engineering projects by preparing topographical maps used in city and town developments. Their drawings and maps are often used for projects like building highways, bridges, and dams.
- Electrical Drafter
Electrical drafters, as their name implies, specialize in electricity. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, they prepare the wiring diagrams that construction workers use to install and repair electrical equipment. Electrical drafters may assist with projects in power plants, electrical distribution systems, and residential or commercial buildings.
- Electronic Drafter
While their name is similar, electronic drafters have distinct responsibilities. Electronics drafters assist with manufacturing projects that involve electronic components. Specifically, they produce wiring diagrams, assembly diagrams for circuit boards, and layout drawings that are then used to install and repair electronic devices.
- Mechanical Drafter
Mechanical drafters assist in the development of machinery and mechanical tools or devices. They prepare the layouts and drawings that detail dimensions, specifications, fastening methods, and other requirements needed for the assembly of parts. Sometimes, as reported by the BLS, mechanical drafters will also create production molds.
Other Job Titles You Can Obtain with a CAD Certificate
Many CAD certificate holders begin their careers in entry-level drafting positions. They may become specialized drafters in a certain concentration, or a general CAD drafter. However, alternate titles you may qualify for in this field include:
- CAD Technician
Like a CAD drafter, a CAD technician use computer-aided design technology to develop design plans for projects in construction, engineering, and manufacturing. They may develop 2D drawings or 3D designs and structures to display project details. These design plans are then used by engineers to bring projects to fruition.
- CAD Operator
CAD operator is another title you may come across in this field. These professionals’ core responsibility is to create drawings and blueprints for a variety of manufacturing products and the construction of buildings. CAD operators operate computer-aided design technology to produce accurate design plans.
- Engineering Technician
An engineering technician works closely with engineers, in specialties like civil, chemical, and biomedical engineering (to name a few). Using their knowledge of CAD, engineering technicians may provide feedback on mechanical designs, assist with the construction of devices or buildings, and develop guides for getting the job done. Engineering technicians often perform quality control measures after products are developed and conduct preliminary research before development begins.
All the above specialists, including CAD drafters, are essential to manufacturing and engineering—as well as specialties like aerospace, architecture, construction, and medical device development. With CAD experience, you have the opportunity to expand your role and specialize in a variety of industries and work environments.
After gaining experience in any of these positions, CAD specialists typically experience great upward mobility in the field. Many CAD drafters and technicians, for example, go on to fulfill opportunities as CAD designers. CAD designers develop the actual designs that will be used to create concepts or products, from microchips to massive buildings and structures.
What Will You Do in a CAD Job After Graduation?
No matter which pathway you choose to take within computer-aided design, you will be equipped to handle many tasks come graduation day. The job duties you may tackle include, but are not limited to:
- Consulting and collaborating with designers and engineers to understand specifications
- Preparing documents, diagrams, illustrations, and 3D models using CAD software
- Proofing designs for potential errors
- Determining the materials and processes needed for construction or development of a product
- Projecting costs for the above materials
- Preparing technical reports and contracts, as well as maintaining records of all versions of a design
A CAD certificate is a great way to stand out from other candidates who are just breaking into computer-aided design. While it is not always required for entry-level CAD technician positions, it is a major draw for prospective employers. They will see that you’ve gained experience in CAM programs, and that you have developed basic skillsets in CAD and CMM programming. This will put you a step ahead of other job applicants and give you an advantage upon starting any job.
While earning a CAD certificate is a great step into the field, gaining practical experience is also important. After graduation, the best thing you can do is to seek out entry-level jobs or apprenticeships to build upon the skillsets learned in your certificate program. Participate in all the development opportunities, networking events, mentorship, and training resources available to you through your job—and use that to move up in the field.
Are you ready to get started? Goodwin University offers a career-focused CAD certificate program designed for students looking to master their design skills quickly. Through four courses, students learn how to design and measure 2D and 3D parts for manufacturing using Solidworks, Mastercam, and PC-DMIS. Students also develop detailed designs, drawings, and blueprints that are industry ready. The CAD certificate program can be completed part-time or full-time.