We Know; All About Computer-Aided Design

What is Computer-Aided Design (CAD)?

Computer-aided design means using an automated system or computer-assisted system for creating drawings or plans. This includes the design of two- and three-dimensional models. This is a surprisingly open field. You can work with computer-aided design in all engineering fields, as well as in many game design fields, computer animation, and wiring and infrastructure planning.

What kinds of CAD jobs are there and what education is required

Though many high schools offer courses in computer-aided design, you really need at least a two-year technical school associates degree to qualify for most computer-aided design jobs. There are two subtly different fields you can go into. Computer-aided drafting is drawing and detailing technical specifications for a project on a computer, rather than a drafting board, from which cost estimates and later detailed designs will be developed. Computer-aided design involves drafting out layouts, as well as technical knowledge (such as tensile strengths of materials) for the evaluation and pre-testing of objects before building.

Where are CAD job available?

Computer-aided design jobs are available in a wide variety of fields: architecture, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, structural engineering, hydraulics planning, interior design, civil construction, and fields requiring 3D visualizations, model construction, animated fly-throughs, and other complex virtual structures. This means that not only can you find jobs making plans for real structures, but you can also find jobs virtually reconstructing historical or astronomical structures, or creating imaginary ones for video games, movies, and other similar applications.

Typically, your technical school will help you find a position in computer-aided design. If you have a particular field you want to go into, your best bet is to contact someone in the field already to ask about an apprenticeship. Do this early on in your education, and you may be able to have a ob waiting for you when you get out. You should also be prepared to move in order to find the computer-aided design job you want; specialized positions tend to be very regional.

What is the career availability?

According to the US Department of Labor, computer-aided design jobs are increasing, but more slowly than other jobs. However, designers with more education and the ability to take on more engineering work are likely to have much better job opportunities. The engineering field is growing rapidly, and new uses for computer-aided design are found every day. Not only are all the technical fields that have historically used CAD workers still growing, but new fields, like Rapid Prototyping (which can create items to your specs directly from a CAD plan), are finding more new uses for computer-aided design applications.

What is the average income and what are the opportunities for advancement?

If you're willing to move for the perfect position, and if you are willing to get as much education as necessary, a computer-aided design position can take you into almost any engineering field and several of the more technical creative fields, like animation. A position in computer-aided design is a great jumping-off point to work toward a degree in engineering. You should consult the US Department of Labor for current earnings statistics, but in 2005 a person with a computer-aided design position should be making a middle-middle class wage, with median salaries hovering around $40,000 per year. The electrical specialties tend to earn the most.

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