CAD drafters and technicians are employed in a wide variety of industries, including engineering, architecture, manufacturing, construction, communication, utilities, and the government. They work for both large and small companies throughout the United States. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that 199,900 drafters work in the United States. For some specialties, jobs may be more specific to certain locations. For example, a drafter or designer for the software industry will find the most opportunities in California's Silicon Valley, while an automotive specialist may be more successful finding jobs near Detroit, Michigan.
One reliable method for entering this field is through your school's career services office. Recruiters from companies employing CAD technicians sometimes visit colleges, and career services office personnel can help students meet with these recruiters.
You can also directly contact architects, building firms, manufacturers, high-technology companies, and government agencies with an e-mail, or with a letter stating your interest in employment, accompanied by a resume that provides details about your education and job experience. State or private employment agencies may also be helpful, and professional journals and job Web sites may provide additional leads.
CAD technicians who demonstrate their ability to handle more responsibility can expect to receive promotions after just a few years on the job. They may be assigned to design work that requires their special skills or experience, such as troubleshooting problems with systems they have worked with, or they may be promoted to supervisory or training positions. As trainers, they may teach courses at their workplace or at a local school or community college.
In general, as CAD technicians advance, their assignments become less and less routine, until they may have a hand in designing and building equipment. Technicians who continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree may become data processing managers, engineers, or systems analysts or manufacturing analysts.
Other routes for advancement include becoming a sales representative for a design firm or for a company selling computer-aided design services or equipment. It may also be possible to become an independent contractor for companies using or manufacturing CAD equipment. Drafters and technicians who complete advanced education can become CAD engineers and designers.
Join professional associations to access training and networking resources, industry publications, and employment opportunities.
Become certified by the American Design Drafting Association in order to show employers that you have met the highest standards established by your industry.
Participate in internships or part-time jobs that are arranged by your college’s career services office. This will give you a chance to make industry contacts and possibly be hired for a full-time position.