Ten top tips for getting a CAD manager job

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CAD, or computer-aided design, is increasingly important in a number of different professions. For example, CAD jobs can be prevalent in the fashion industry, and for those who are drafters.

As computer graphics and design become more ubiquitous and high-tech, computer aided design may largely overtake using "live" modeling as it becomes more sophisticated. Think about that for a second; it's usually easier to produce a model of something via computer, assuming it's going to give you all of the information you need to know, than it is produce the same type of model either by drawing or producing it in 3-D as a physical model.

CAD operator jobs

One of the most prevalent industries to use CAD in a profession is the work a drafter does. Drafters produce drawings and plans for everything from industrial machinery to houses, appliances, and so on.

• You will need to be comfortable drafting with computers

In days past, drafters sat at drawing boards and used a variety of writing and measuring implements such as pens, pencils, protractors and compasses to draw plans by hand. Today, most of these jobs use CAD instead. Oftentimes, today, drafters are known as "CAD operators," since that is the nature of their work.

• You will need to be good at drawing with traditional materials, too

By using CAD, drafters have a lot more flexibility in their work than they did in days past. They can create and store drawings so that they can be viewed or printed by other users; they can also program their drawings directly into manufacturing systems, which are then used to create the project in question. With CAD, drafters can also quickly make changes to a design as needed. Even though CAD is universal these days, in some cases, manual drafts and sketches are still used for certain things.

Education needed to be a CAD operator

• You will need to choose your education carefully

If you are considering becoming a drafter, taking high school courses in computer technology, computer graphics, design, science, and mathematics will be very useful to you. Drafting, too, can be taken at the high school level when it's available. Most employers want to drafters who have gone to some type of post high school training at a community college, technical Institute, or four-year college.

Unlike many industries, drafting is not standardized, so you have to take care when you pick the drafting program you will attend. One good way to find out what schools are popular with prospective employers is to contact employers directly and ask them for information as to the types of schools they had graduates from. Once you have done this, contact those schools directly and ask about the type and frequency of job placement graduates have attained, and ask about the types of instruction and teacher qualifications offered.

• Choose the type of education you want

If you go to a technical institute, you are going to get very intense technical training in drafting itself, but you are not going to get much of a general education. Your degree is likely going to be a two-year associate degree; this may also simply be part of the program offered by universities or community colleges.

The type of training you receive may also depend on whether you intend to stay in the area you'd like to work in, or whether you're going to move. This is because some local technical institutions have training programs specifically geared to local employers. If you do intend to stay in the area, training at one of these institutions will likely be fine, but if your plan is to go to another area of the country, you may want to consider going to a less locally focused institution. Wherever you go for your training, though, it is likely that you are going to need a high school diploma to be admitted.

If you do wish to pursue education beyond an associate's degree, you can start out at a community college and transfer your credits to a state university, or begin at a state university. Once you have completed a two-year associate’s degree, it is likely that you can qualify for entry-level CAD jobs.

Alternatively, of course, if you have joined the armed forces, you can receive CAD operator jobs' there, which can then be applied to civilian life. You may have to receive some additional training depending on what you specialized in when you were in the armed forces.

• Choose your training

Because training will differ somewhat depending on the industry you want to work for, you will need to choose the type of training you want. For example, electronics drafting focuses on drawing electronic components and circuits. With architecture, you will learn how to draw the technical aspects of buildings.

• Make sure you are good with mechanical things and have good visual aptitude

Your work should be neat and accurate comment should depict exactly what you want it to. Therefore, visual "artistic" ability also ranks high if you want a job as a CAD operator.

• You should be able to get along well with people

Most often, your job is not going to be done in solitary fashion. Instead, you are going to have to be able to get along with architects, engineers, or other professionals will be using your drawings. You may also need to interact with customers.

• Professional certification is a plus

Many employers don't require that their drafters be certified, but the American Design Drafting Association has an established certification program for drafters. This demonstrates that you have a specific knowledge and know about nationally recognized practices needed by CAD operators. You will be tested on basic drafting concepts such as working drawings, as well as architectural standards and terms.

• You will need to take instruction well

With entry-level CAD jobs, you'll be working under the supervision of a more experienced drafter. Therefore, you're going to need to be able to follow instruction well and take direction. As you advancing your career, you are also going to have to be able to collaborate well with others and put on paper what others want, so this is also a skill you're going to have to have.

• You will need to be a good manager

Finally, if you plan on coming a manager in some capacity as a CAD operator, you'll need to have good management and people skills, too. As you work your way up in your career, these positions will become available to you as you gain more experience.
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