Updated July, 2021.
There's fairly steady demand for CAD technicians in Quebec and across Canada. There's quite a few ways to specialize in this field, salaries are competitive, and the training is quick.
If you're interested in mechanical engineering or architectural design, you could be a perfect fit for this career.
But what should you know about becoming a CAD technician before you take the leap and invest in training?
We've been teaching this program for years! Here's our top 10 things every potential student should understand, right from day one.
By the end of this post, you'll know for sure if a CAD career is right for you—and exactly how to get started.
1. What is Computer-aided Design & Drafting?
CAD stands for computer-aided design/drafting. It's the process of creating engineering designs, drawings, plans, layouts, blueprints, models, and assembly manuals.
These documents are used by architects, engineers, and construction teams to plan and build a final product—which could be anything from a machine to a house.
CAD technicians play a key role in the design and manufacturing process. Their drawings outline all the components and technical specifications required to bring an idea to life.
Plus, technicians also do cost and materials estimates, and prepare contract and tender documents.
2. How long does CAD training take?
You can become a CAD technician in well under 2 years. At Herzing, for example, our CAD and Drafting Program takes just 16 months to complete (including the internship). This is a full-time diploma program, so you would be attending classes 25 hours a week.
This type of training is laser-focused on preparing students for the job market. You won't take any electives or extra courses—just the skills needed to land your first job as a CAD technician.
Related: Your First Industrial Drafting Job
3. What skills will you learn in class?
CAD and drafting programs dig deep into AutoCAD software. But this software has various applications you can use to specialize in different industries.
So, many programs offer a few "streams" of study, so you can focus your training on the areas that interest you most.
For example, do you want to work with architects, drafting building plans? Or are you more interested in manufacturing and mechanical engineering?
You'll choose your focus at the beginning, and take courses that prepare you for jobs in that particular field of CAD and drafting. But in general, typical courses for this program include:
- in-depth training on AutoCAD for Windows
- industry standards for architectural and engineering drawings
- 3D modelling and visualization tools
- 2D drawings
- training on 3ds Studio Max software (rendering, lighting, materials selection, animation)
- designing machine elements and assemblies
- parametric modelling
- training on AutoDesk Inventor software
- training on SolidWorks software (for 3D mechanical design)
- training on AutoDesk Revit software (building design and documentation)
- floor plans, front/side/rear elevations, isometric and perspective views
You'll do a range of projects that integrate these skills and software tools—preparing you for real work environments and challenges.
The internship is usually held after all the coursework is complete, so students can apply everything they've learned and gain some professional experience, before graduation.
4. What jobs will you qualify for after CAD Training?
Speaking of work....what kinds of jobs can you expect to land, straight out of CAD training? A CAD and Drafting Diploma will qualify you for entry-level roles, such as:
- Mechanical Engineering Technologist
- Industrial Engineering Technologist
- Architectural Draftsperson
- Technologist in Drafting
- CAD Technician
You will find opportunities at architectural and engineering firms, construction companies, and design firms. There are also jobs for CAD technicians in government, and at utility, resource, and manufacturing companies.
5. What key skills do you need to become a successful CAD technician?
Are you naturally suited to become a CAD technician? What kinds of skills and characteristics are needed to excel in training, and build a successful career in this field? Some of the top attributes you'll need include:
- numeracy and math skills (are you comfortable solving basic algebra and trigonometry problems? Did you take senior secondary school math and science?)
- detail-oriented and meticulous
- comfortable learning and using new computer software
- good communication skills
- naturally interested in the manufacturing or construction process
- excellent problem-solving skills
- multi-tasking and project management (juggling several projects and deadlines at the same time)
6. What is the average salary for CAD technicians in Quebec?
Every few years, the Government of Canada Job Bank releases a wage report, which shows the low, median, and high-end salaries for hundreds of occupations.
We checked the most recent report for CAD Technicians in Quebec, and found the median salary for this job is about $46,000/year.
But what would you make, just starting out after college? As a new grad, you can expect an entry-level salary of about $34,000/year.
At the highest end of the pay scale, CAD technicians in Quebec are making around $70,000/year.
7. Is there demand for CAD techs where you live?
This is an excellent question. Before you leap into a training program, it's always a good idea to see what demand is like for the job you're interested in.
We looked at the Job Bank to find out what opportunities there are for CAD technicians in Montreal. Their latest market report shows "fair" growth in this field, with 2/3 stars for projected demand.
Source: Government of Canada Job Bank Career Outlook Report (2021)
Across Canada, the job market for CAD technicians is expected to stay "balanced" over the next 10 years—with stable supply and demand across the country.
8. What are the pros & cons of becoming a CAD Technician?
Every job has its ups and downs. What are they for CAD technicians?
For many technicians, the biggest "con" is sitting at a desk, working on a computer for so many hours at a time. While some CAD technicians do job site visits, and hold meetings with clients, the majority of your time will probably be spent at the computer.
On the other hand, one of the biggest "pros" is how diverse and interesting the work can be. There are many areas of specialization for CAD technicians. And so many things to learn about each field: parts, assemblies, components, sub-assemblies, the best way to present a design, new software, etc.
In the world of design and drafting, there are a lot of ways to grow and keep things interesting.
9. How do you choose a quality computer-aided design college?
So, if you're considering CAD training options, and don't want to invest in a university degree, you'll be looking at computer aided design colleges. In other words, a diploma program.
How do you select a quality school? A few key points to keep in mind (or ask the school about) include:
- how long the college has been operating
- reputation of the CAD program and school overall (positive reviews?)
- graduate employment rate
- who teaches the CAD program (how much experience do they have?)
- content of the program (will you learn the most relevant software and technical skills?)
- is there an internship?
10. What's your next step?
We strongly recommend talking with an Admissions Advisor at each CAD college you're considering.
Set up a meeting, visit the campus, drop in on a CAD class, or at least schedule a phone call to get your questions answered.
An Admissions Advisor can help you:
- understand application requirements for the CAD program (are you eligible to apply?)
- book a campus tour
- figure out your financial aid and funding options
- see the class schedule
- learn about career options
Click below to learn more about Herzing's CAD program and chat live with Admissions. We're here to help!