A CAD degree is formally known as an associate’s degree in computer-aided drafting and design. Obtaining this degree can lead to a variety of career options related to many disciplines of engineering and architecture. A career path can be chosen which meets a CAD degree holder’s personal, professional and financial interests.
The most recognized occupations for CAD degree holders are drafters and engineering technicians. Both of these occupations involve computer aided-design and drafting to create blueprints. This includes designing parts, products or structures in a variety of specialty areas, and some careers improve manufacturing processes and maintain equipment and systems.
A drafter is a professional who provides technical specifications or blueprints after another professional such as an engineer, architect or scientist conceptualizes the design. Drafters use computer-aided design and drafting software to complete the blueprints and technical specifications. These professionals can work in a variety of disciplines such as architectural drafting, or different engineering specialty areas such as electrical, mechanical or civil engineering. In May 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported median annual salaries of $44,490 for architectural and civil drafters, $46,640 for mechanical drafters and $51,320 for electrical drafters.
Engineering technicians also use computer-aided drafting and design. These professionals focus more on ways to improve or repair products, equipment and manufacturing processes. This can include responsibilities such as redesigning the blueprints or technical specifications, using blueprints to repair and maintain manufacturing equipment or test products for quality assurance and improvement. In May 2008, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported median annual wages ranging from $41,100 to $55,040 for engineering technicians. The highest wages were aerospace engineering and operations technician occupations.
Many of these professionals have the ability to advance their careers by obtaining a bachelor's degree in a chosen career path or through professional experience. Some of these professionals move into higher-level drafting roles such as senior drafters and designers. Architectural drafters can pursue education and licensing to become an architect. Engineering technicians can move into a variety of engineering roles either through professional experience or obtaining a bachelor's degree in an engineering discipline.
2016 Salary Information for Drafters
Drafters earned a median annual salary of $53,530 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, drafters earned a 25th percentile salary of $42,430, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $67,020, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 207,700 people were employed in the U.S. as drafters.