If you want to design buildings, aircraft or toys, you will probably need to learn AutoCAD, a program that enables 2D and 3D drafting and design. It's one of the technical tools and software applications used by mechanical drafters to prepare technical drawings and plans to assist companies in the manufacturing of products, such as microchips, and the construction of structures, including skyscrapers. Most use computer-aided design (CAD) software to prepare drawings, including the popular AutoCAD drafting program.
Higher-level education, strong computer skills, and the ability to complete diverse projects may allow you to succeed in AutoCAD drafting jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Getting into architectural and engineering drafting should also allow you to progress. Population growth and nationwide infrastructure projects are expected to create 9 percent job growth in architectural and engineering drafting between 2008 and 2018, according to the BLS.
What to Expect From AutoCAD Classes
At AutoCAD drafting schools, you may learn techniques to enhance your drafting and technical drawing skills. You should also learn about drafting standards, project management, and engineering technology. In courses in AutoCAD drafting, you also become familiar with useful software programs, including Autodesk's AutoCAD software program and Adobe Creative Suite. Online courses in AutoCAD drafting may be available.
You could obtain post-secondary school training in drafting at technical institutes, community colleges, colleges and universities. In a technical institute, you may generally focus on specific training to earn a two-year associate's degree, a diploma or a professional certificate. Electronic drafting program students may also learn how to depict electronic components and circuits, while architectural drafting students work with the technical specifications of buildings.
Community colleges typically require you to combine drafting theory and technical courses with general education classes, allowing you to transfer to a four-year college or university or to find a job once you obtain an associate's degree. The American Design Drafting Association certifies professionals in this field. The Armed Forces also provide pertinent training.
What You Can Do With a Degree in AutoCAD Drafting
There could be AutoCAD drafting jobs to explore after graduation. As an aeronautical drafter, you could sketch aircraft and missiles, while as a civil drafter you would focus on public projects such as highways, pipelines, and water and sewage systems. If you're interested in communication-center and power-plant wiring, you could become an electrical drafter. You shouldn't confuse electrical drafters with electronics drafters, who prepare diagrams to enable the assembly of electronic devices. Mechanical drafters sketch technical drawings to put together machinery. An associate degree in drafting may also prepare you for further education in:
- Architecture or engineering
- Commercial and industrial design
- Cartography or surveying
If you were to become an architect or an engineer, you might supervise the construction of buildings or residential neighborhoods. As a commercial and industrial designer, you would rely on creativity and research to design the most functional and marketable cars, appliances, and children's toys. You could also use what you learned in AutoCAD drafting school to create maps as a cartographer and add land contours to the project as a surveyor.
Salary Outlook for Drafting Jobs
According to BLS in 2011, the mean annual salary for graduates of AutoCAD drafting degree programs varied by specialty. Architectural and civil drafters made $50,160, while electrical and electronics drafters took home $57,240. Mechanical drafters were right in the middle of their counterparts with a mean annual wage of $52,150.
You may increase your salary by advancing in your AutoCAD drafting job. From an entry-level position, you could become a junior or intermediate drafter, usually working under less supervision, while making certain decisions independently. Later, you could progress to senior drafter, designer, and supervisor. Drafters may also become engineering technicians, engineers, and architects.
You should get paid much more as a professional drafter in certain U.S. regions, as well. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011, the highest-paid architectural and civil drafters were in Anchorage, AK where their annual mean wage was $75,830. In Gary, IN Metropolitan Division electrical and electronics drafters achieved their highest annual mean wage during the same period getting paid $83,140. Mechanical drafters made the most money in Peabody, MA NECTA Division, with an annual mean wage reaching $79,900.