AutoCAD DesignerJob Description, Salary, Career Path, and Trends

AutoCAD designers use computer software to create technical drawings based on the work of architects and engineers. Some designers specialize in particular types of drawing, such as architectural or mechanical. AutoCAD designers, also known as drafters, need to have outstanding technical and computer skills and an artistic eye.

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 closely working 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. Candidates’ tasks will include creating occasional, original designs as well as mocking up 2D sketches provided by the engineer. This position is part-time but has the potential to become full-time over time. The candidate should have a good working knowledge of CAD software, engineering, and architecture. If this sounds like it could be your dream job, please apply! We would love to have you as part of the 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 degree from a community college or a certificate from a technical school. Professional certifications also are available.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills
  • Strong collaborative and interpersonal ability
  • 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

Average salary and compensation

The average salary for an AutoCAD designer is $63,400 in the United States. Position salary will vary based on experience, education, company size, industry, and market.

LocationSalary LowSalary High
Phoenix, Arizona$63,050$85,300
Los Angeles, California$71,100$96,250
Denver, Colorado$59,250$80,200
Washington, DC$72,200$97,700
Miami, Florida$59,000$79,850
Orlando, Florida$54,450$73,650
Tampa, Florida$54,950$74,350
Atlanta, Georgia$57,650$78,000
Chicago, Illinois$66,250$89,650
Boston, Massachusetts$71,650$96,950
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota$57,100$77,250
New York City, New York$75,450$102,050
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania$61,400$83,100
Dallas, Texas$59,800$80,950
Houston, Texas$59,550$80,550
Seattle, Washington$68,950$93,300
National Average$53,850$72,900

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, structural, and more. These designers can be full or part-time depending on the position and integral need for their models within the business.

Typical hours

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

Available certifications

AutoCAD designers benefit greatly from certifications that can assist in building modeling, electrical and structural modeling, and more. Some of the certifications that are popular 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, which increases the recognition it offers.
  • AutoCAD and Digital Manufacturing. The AutoCAD and digital manufacturing certificate is also offered by Autodesk and provides industry recognition as well as 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 should then receive a drafting certificate from a technical school or an associate 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 offers certifications, which will expand your career opportunities. 

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.

Sample interview questions

  • Are you familiar with AutoCAD?
  • Do you have any previous experience using AutoCAD or other CAD software?
  • What relevant certifications do you have for this position?
  • How would you go about designing a user interface with AutoCAD?
  • What are the normal file formats with AutoCAD?
  • What are the primary uses of AutoCAD?
  • What are the system requirements of this software and similar CAD software?
  • What is the difference between CAD and CADD?
  • What is your previous experience in architecture and engineering?
  • Have you had any previous AutoCAD-related jobs or positions?
  • Are you able to communicate and carry out instructions well?

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