Are cad operator job opportunities growing or declining?

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John in Catonsville, Maryland

24 months ago

And yes, more companies are having the engineers do their own drafting from what I've seen.

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SkiWrex in Draper, Utah

21 months ago

-I would say it all depends on the industry. AutoCAD is not a cutting edge program like it once was. It's still widely used, but today Parametric softwares are the industry norm, (Solidworks, CATIA, Pro-E, Revit etc). Drafting is evolving into more of a designer role, In college, my professors were adamant about teaching us the why and how of the design concepts behind what we were drawing so that we could grow into designers. I'm a mechanical Designer for a Medical Device company that has 4 roles for the CAD field (Drafter, SR. Drafter, Designer, SR. Designer) I started out as a Drafting Intern, with time and experience, I can get to SR. Designer with a salary of between $60,000-$90,000.
-Engineers CAN take on drafting/Design roles by designing their own stuff (If they have time), but usually their technical drawings are GARBAGE! I've seen machinists laugh engineers out of the shop because of their terrible drawings and lack of understanding basic machining principles. There is not an engineer in my company who can churn out a practical design and technical drawing as fast as I can, they usually come up with a prelim design, and then give it to me to make it work:)
-Personally, I would not want to be an engineer in my company, their job is way too stressful and busy for my liking. I enjoy sitting at my desk, listening to my iPod whilst designing in 3D CAD programs all day and getting paid nearly as much as they do. It is wise to get a technology based Bachelors degree of some sort to supplement your 2 year drafting degree. My B.S. is in Technology Management because I hope to become a design manager some day.
-To sum up, Drafting won't go away, it can be what you choose to make it and open up doors you never though possible. The trick to being successful is:
1-Get into an industry you enjoy
2-Make yourself valuable: learn multiple programs and grow your skills anyway you can (don't be content to just be a 15/hr drafter)
3-Be efficient/quick

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Fogg in York, Pennsylvania

10 months ago

Well, now. Quite a plethora of nay-sayers abound here - and my hope is that your math and/or CAD (or even engineering) skills are better than your grammar skills. Otherwise, you'd be have the onus of an Associate-degreed "CAD slave" grading your posts - and "fixin' it for ya" (to use the parlance of the times). My last group of (alas, now former) associates (read "licensed PE, PLS or RLA") were by and large CAD illiterate, especially when it came down to the necessary task of performing specialized calculation or query operations; thus earning me the mantle of "an anomaly." And while we're on the topic, don't even get me started on adherence to the National CAD Standard!

Markets may indicate decline, but brain power is always at a premium. Thank you and Goodnight.

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

10 months ago

Strictly CAD or drafting jobs are in decline. Companies want CAD designers with architecture, engineering, or land surveying degrees. CAD software is becoming more automated making it easier for these people to do their own design drafting quickly. -- Since the recession, companies have cut a lot of their technical support staff. Many of them were drafters. These jobs have been eliminated for good. -- Although, there are contract/temp drafting jobs with some companies. A lot of this has to do with the oil and gas industry. Good luck with that, though. I’m under the impression you have to know AutoCAD Civil 3D, CADWorx, etc. rather well. You have to hit the ground running, manipulate the software, and spit the plans out quickly. Good luck getting hired. These companies don’t want to spend the length of the contract training you. -- And to top it all off, these jobs don’t pay that well. Relocate? Okay, maybe. Then what? The job ends. In this economy, what are the chances there’s going to be another job lined up after the first one ends? You might end up stuck and further in debt.

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

John in Catonsville, Maryland said: And yes, more companies are having the engineers do their own drafting from what I've seen.

I've worked with PE's that told me they'd rather hire people with an actual civil engineering degree to do the drafting. They want people with "full design knowledge" to do the drafting. You know. Cost cutting.

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

John in Catonsville, Maryland said: And yes, more companies are having the engineers do their own drafting from what I've seen.

I've (also) worked with PEs that did their own drafting. Some are reasonably good at it and some aren't. Most engineers churn out crummy drawings. The "plan" might be right, but the drawing looks terrible.

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

John in Catonsville, Maryland said: And yes, more companies are having the engineers do their own drafting from what I've seen.

I'm (also) under the impression that most engineers don't have time to do the drafting. Maybe that's why their drawings are so sloppy. Will software ever become automated enough for engineers to completely rid of drafters?

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Upenn02 in Swedesboro, New Jersey said: Please do not misunderstand; in no way am I questioning the quality of architectural (or other) drafters. I'm only noting these positions have been marginalized in the last decade or so, and many companies on the whole have discovered the need no longer exists to employ a cad " drafter " (insert discipline) because the engineer / architect are fully capable of taking on those responsibilities. It's all about the bottom line, and firms want to squeeze every last possible drop of profit out of contracts . Most engineers / architects are conversant in not only cad but drafting practices as well, as the exposure comes early in the collegial experience, in fact those are usually some of the first classes - this specialized knowledge is no longer "outside" the typical engineering curriculum. Thus, as an engineering manager , why would I employ extra positions to create and/or execute changes to engineering documentation when my engineers are fully capable of those efforts AND signing off on the drawings to boot. The engineer is no longer forced to trust the experience or professionalism of the cad (insert discipline) drafter. Yep, it means folks loose their jobs, but that's how it works. The CDI's, Lincoln Techs, Starr, and Omega Institutes of the world are jokes. They are cad diploma mills where students "barely" scratch the surface of their chosen cad specialization. This is a well known fact as many of these "schools" have pending lawsuits against them. I would suggest anyone considering a cad (enter the specialization here) drafting career take a long hard look at it first to determine if your goals will be attained by traveling down that road.

I have always wondered after 45 years in this biz, what is a cad drafter? I have worked with mechanical, piping, electrical, instrument, civil, structural, p & ID
drafters/designers and they do drafting in those fields. So a cad drafter drafts cad?
e

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

jjr5834 in Houston, Texas said: I have been in the piping design / drafting field for over 40 years. I started
out in manual drafting and now it is called 3D cad modeling. The payrate in
this area is very good, average pay for 10 years is about 445/hour. Some
more experienced 3D PDS, PDMS, SmartPlant, Cadworx or AutoPlant designers
earn in excess of $70/hour. It is not dead in Houston, Tx.

There are companies here in Wichita, KS that are asking for piping design knowledge and experience in software like CADWorx. Unfortunately, in Wichita, there's no place to get "the right training." Unless you have the money to fork out for software and workshops or move to Houston. But when people get laid off, their budgets tighten. You can't get a Pell Grant or loan for all training. And besides that, being tied down to school full time (for possibly a career change) may not even be an option. You have to secure a roof over your head, first. Somehow, some way, it'll work out. But it probably won't be in drafting. Not for me, anyway.

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Cadworx has online training and its reasonable. It does depend in what town you
are in for sure but the engineering firms that deal in oil/gas plants are the ones to look into.
You do have to have an income in order to survive and going to classes are mostly
during the day but like I said there are many on-line courses now.
I am in the field of piping design and in Houston, TX its a boom for sure and should last for 3-5 years more.
JB

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas said: I've (also) worked with PEs that did their own drafting. Some are reasonably good at it and some aren't. Most engineers churn out crummy drawings. The "plan" might be right, but the drawing looks terrible.

I can gurantee you that engineers didn't go to college and get a degree to do drafting! Too much sacrifice and cost to end up doing drafting.
Some of the firms have tried to do just that, hire engineersthat have cad experience and have them do draftin too. Here in Houston, TX that has flunked
out big time just because of the reason stated above.
JB

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

JB in Houston, Texas said: Cadworx has online training...

I think I was aware of that. Good reminder though. Similar software, I think even CADWorx, is used in the agricultural/ethanol industry. I had been working in the civil engineering industry. My experience doesn’t translate that well from land base infrastructure to process piping, etc. I’ve worked more with 2D than 3D. Any 3D I did was “land” development using AutoCAD Civil 3D. Plats, streets, waterlines and sewer lines don’t equate to process piping. Furthermore, I have looked for civil drafting jobs in other cities and had phone interviews. (Yes, if I could find a civil drafting job in another city just to get training for something else, I’d do it.) I’m under the impression that nobody wants to pay. For instance, Williston, North Dakota, I saw an ad in their local paper’s classifieds for land survey crew help (That’s a job that a civil drafter could get even without field experience). That particular company only wanted to pay $15 an hour. I’m thinking, are you kidding me. Rent for an average apartment in Williston is five times what it was before the oil boom. What was $500 a month is now $2500 a month. Besides Williston, comparing places like Wichita and Houston, well, Houston is more expensive than Wichita. The kicker is the cost of living difference. I’m under the impression that drafting wages have gone down and companies don’t compensate for cost of living change. I think most of my unsuccessful (phone) interviews have been because of me asking for what I thought were reasonable wages. It’s hard to say what’s real and what’s not. Employers are playing more games these days.

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas said: I think I was aware of that. Good reminder though. Similar software...

Additional thoughts to my own reply:

I could get CATIA training at WATC here in Wichita (once I get my housing needs squared away and hopefully employment. I got laid off nearly 3 years ago.). But it’s geared toward aircraft. Some 3D knowledge could probably be used in other fields. But employers in other fields are less likely to hire you because they don’t want to train you. Not really my forte, anyway. I may end up studying business management (if/when possible). Really, for drafting/design, I wish there had been an apprenticeship-type program like the trade unions have (carpenters, plumbers, electricians). I’m not saying develop a union, but just the apprenticeship program so there isn’t such a dilemma for people to get training or re-training. Make it a multi-discipline apprenticeship program. Because a lot of traditional schools just don’t offer enough, or the right training, or the price is a major barrier. Trade union apprenticeship programs offer free or minimal cost accredited training and they put you to work immediately.

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas said: Strictly CAD or drafting jobs...QUOTE]

Additional thoughts (clearer picture) to my own comment:

Civil engineering firms doing work in the oil and gas industry are dealing with (surveying, writing legal descriptions, preparing drawings and "staking out”) oil wells, pipelines and access roads (that I know of). This is easy work if you have a reasonable amount of civil/survey experience, although low paying contract/temp is a big turnoff. That’s where relocation doesn’t really make any sense, if they'd even hire you (from a great distance).

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas said: Additional thoughts to my own reply:

Trade union apprenticeship programs offer free or minimal cost accredited training and they put you to work immediately.

More additional thoughts:

Lack of the right training/skills, or no training, is a problem for those who need to keep up their CAD skills. If You're out of work and you can't keep up your CAD skills, it's a big minus when you're looking for a job. We need better options for training.

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

That field has never had a high pay rate as does piping or electrical design.
Maybe a change to another field to get higher pay.
JB

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Here in Houston that is a good field and pays well.
The oil/gas field has its ups and downs but its very profitable.
My opinion is that I will go into a field that will eventially pay well
and I can have employment for long periods. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices
in order to stay employed, like working out of town, but the future for
your family and yourself is what its all about. No sacrifice, maybe no future.
JB

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

JB in Houston, Texas said: That field has never had a high pay rate as does piping or electrical design.
Maybe a change to another field to get higher pay.
JB

I agree to some extent, although you might be surprised at what you can negotiate. I was living reasonably comfortable (working in civil) before I got laid off.

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Most cad systems have online tutorials for 2D and 3D. I see them all the time.
JB

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Here in Houston where there are literally hundreds of engineering firms
using 2D cad & 3D cad, its unbelievable the pay rate. Piping and electrical are king, with rates in the 70's per hour very common. Trainees are in the 20's+ with only one year experience. Experience 5+ in the 45's easily.
After 45+ year experience and no college whatsoever, I have made a great living so far.
Sure, I have been laid off but with so many firms, a new job is right around the corner,and usually with a higher pay rate.
JB

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

JB in Houston, Texas said: Most cad systems have online tutorials for 2D and 3D. I see them all the time.
JB

Yeah, but if you don't have CAD software loaded on your home computer to practice, in my opinion it's not as effective.

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

Training is training, you decide the effectiveness.
JB

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Indie_One in Wichita, Kansas

9 months ago

JB in Houston, Texas said: Training is training, you decide the effectiveness.
JB

I suppose you could try and pass that off as training to an employer in a job interview. It seems to me like I’ve tried “similar” things in the past. It never flew. It might be effective as far as you’re concerned, but an employer may not see it that way. Studying a tutorial or demonstration is only part of it. The other part is actual hands on training. One other issue might be the fact that you’re training yourself. An employer may not see that as being adequate.

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JB in Houston, Texas

9 months ago

You are looking at it in the wrong light,if you are going to be in this biz, you better learn how to sell yourself and your qualifications. A job interview is all about selling yourself to be
able to do the job required.
If you can't do that, you may need to be in another field.
JB

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