Use Computer-Aided Design programs to create new tools and products. Develop detailed design drawings and specifications for mechanical equipment, dies, tools, and controls using computer-aided design (CAD) software. Similar software may be used once the design is final to direct the computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) of the product. CAD skills are also useful in many other careers such as engineering.

Make a Difference

A Typical Day

  • Review and analyze specifications, sketches, drawings, ideas, and related data to assess factors affecting component designs and the procedures and instructions to be followed.
  • Lay out and draw schematic, orthographic, or angle views to depict functional relationships of components, assemblies, systems, and machines.
  • Produce 3D models using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
  • Modify and revise designs to correct operating deficiencies or to reduce production problems.

Recommended Credentials

Associate degree

Education & Training

Regional employers often hire graduates of these programs.


Northwest Lower Michigan


Computer Aided Design Certificate
— North Central Michigan College
Engineering Technology Associates Degree
— Northwestern Michigan College
Engineering Certificate or Associate in Science & Arts
— Northwestern Michigan College

Explore This Career

Try it before you buy it!

  • Attend Manufacturing Day
  • Take high school math classes
  • Take a free CAD course online
  • Learn how to use the 3D printer at the Traverse Area District Library or your high school

The Local Advantage Learning Pathway

Pathway 1

Robotics and Automation Northwest Education Services (formerly TBAISD) Career Tech Center - Drafting & Design Online
Ask your counselor about dual enrollment at NMC.

Dual enroll at NMC - Print Reading and Sketching (DD101)
Dual enroll at NMC - Machining I (MFG 113)
Dual enroll at NMC - Machining II (MFG 114)

Pathway 2

Northwestern Michigan College
Additional Drafting & Design courses 


Pathway 3

Northwestern Michigan College
Engineering Technologies
Associates of Applied Sciences 


Sample Employers in Our Region

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Contact one of these companies and ask for an informational interview, to see if you can job shadow, or to find out if they hire interns.


Sample Job Titles...

  • Designer
  • CAD Designer
  • Industrial Designer
  • CAD/CAM Programmer

Hear It From The Pros

10-Year Job Growth Projections

10-County Region

Employed Regionally

In 2021 (10-County Region)

Wage Range & Median 10-County Region


Annual Hires Regionally

In 2021

Other Regional Career Resources

Learn more about Mechanical Drafters at O*Net Online.

Sample Career Pathways

Click to download a PDF of this diagram.

Diagram of Paths To and From Other Careers for Designer Drafters CAD-CAM

Related Careers

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Real World Career Pathways

It doesn't have to be a straight shot! Hear from people who have taken unique pathways.