Computer Aided Design and Digital Technology: From Entry Level to Account Managers

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If you're quick to learn various types of computer software applications and you have a propensity for design, then you are a likely candidate for a career in computer aided design (CAD). You'll find computer aided design jobs in firms that deal with engineering, architecture, product design, electronics, and animation schematics.

Those in CAD designer jobs have the ability to represent a three-dimensional object on paper. It is customary and necessary to create drawings of an object from at least three different angles to show its full dimensional properties. People in this field are also referred to as CADD (computer aided design and drafting) operators, and in these days of advancing computer technology many are called digital designers.

Every company needs account managers to coordinate the work of entry-level draftsmen as well as communicate with clients. Account managers must have the expertise to know when a design presented for a project will not work. They need to have good sales or marketing techniques as well as CAD skills. They also need to have the sensitivity to deal with clients who keep changing their minds or who just aren’t sure exactly what they need. It also falls to these managers to interface with fiscal people and perform myriad fine-tuning tasks on projects.

Many people develop their enthusiasm for this field while they are still in high school and take a high concentration of industrial arts classes. Others are bent toward another line of study but something in their lives, such as a home remodeling project or volunteer work on a community project, sparks their interest in CAD. It is possible to begin a career in computer aided design by taking a certification course after high school. Courses are available at community vocational or technical training schools, and many colleges offer certification courses. Most of the courses are similar, but those who want to move on to a four-year degree should keep in mind that credits from a technical institute usually cannot be transferred to a college or university.

This means, of course, that a college degree is not a firm prerequisite for a CAD designer job. However, many designers find work at a firm that will reimburse tuition expense; ultimately they can earn a degree in engineering or a related field and advance within the company.

About half of all CAD jobs are in engineering, architecture, or in a field related to construction. Of the remaining jobs, about half occur in machinery or metalworking factories, computer or electronics firms, technical instrumentation firms including medical equipment design, the travel and navigational industry, and others. Most of the rest occur within government, graphic or fashion design, and animation or robotics for either entertainment or industry. Technical illustrators do everything from creating visual product design plans to writing instruction booklets so consumers can assemble what they’ve purchased. Digital designers take a look at how to best communicate product solutions—animation versus photography, color versus line drawings, or technical layout designs.

Like many fields, earnings for those in computer aided design jobs vary according to region of the country and size of the company. Those in entry-level CAD designer jobs without a four-year degree usually start at $27-30,000. Mid-range salaries, including those for account managers, fall between $35-55,000. Designer supervisors can expect earnings up to $70,000 or more.

You can enhance your earnings potential by exploring certification options available with ADDA International, which is the professional organization for the American Design Drafting Association and the American Digital Design Association. By meeting certification standards you are demonstrating your knowledge of universal standards and practices within various industries.

Professionals interested in a long-term career in computer aided design jobs can perform job searches based on their salary requirements, geographical location, industry preference, and other parameters at, a division of Even after you find the position ideal for your needs, you can maintain a professional relationship with the staff at to keep track of industry trends that will be of interest.
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