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These Are The Highest Paid Jobs in CAD

Money bag icon - highest paid CAD jobs

Computer Aided Design, or CAD, is an integral part of almost every industry you can think of, including (but not limited to) architecture, engineering and design. It’s also an indispensable part of our future, which is why companies and businesses across the world are opening their doors to CAD experts every day. From electrical engineers to architects to interior designers, there are countless CAD jobs out there. The question is, however: which are the highest paid jobs in CAD? 

Scan2CAD’s latest article gives you a list of the top 10 highest paid jobs in CAD—complete with average salaries, necessary qualifications and job outlooks. 


The salaries for CAD jobs can vary depending on which field you work in, e.g., engineering, designing or drafting. These salaries can also fluctuate depending on how much experience you’ve had, what additional qualifications you have and even where your job is located. We look at these aspects in much more depth in our handy article on CAD salaries

We’ve provided median salaries for each of the top jobs available in CAD, which will vary depending on the factors mentioned above. To give you a better look at how much these salaries can vary, however, we’ve also included percentile wages. 

Without further ado, here are the top 10 highest paid jobs in CAD…


1. Electrical and Electronics Engineers ($97,970)

CAD Drawing DXF File - Engineer House Electrical Diagram

2017 median pay

$97,970

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

324,600

Job outlook, 2016-26

7%

Employment change, 2016-26

21,300

Electrical and electronics engineers work on designing and developing the manufacturing of electrical equipment like communications systems. Throughout the work process, they need to stick to industry standards and safety regulations. CAD can play a strong role in the work of electrical engineers—giving them the ability to generate electrical and electronic diagrams quickly and efficiently. 

According to the BLS, the top paying industry for electrical and electronics engineers is Support Activities for Mining, with an annual mean wage of $123,940. Those located in the District of Columbia are in luck, with an annual mean wage of $116,310.

Percentile wages for electrical and electronics engineers

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$60,250

$74,400

$97,970

$121,060

$150,340

Source: BLS

2. Industrial Engineer ($85,880)

Screenshot of Fusion 360's finite element analysis

2017 median pay

$85,880

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

257,900

Job outlook, 2016-26

10%

Employment change, 2016-26

25,100

At the forefront of the work of industrial engineers is the search for eliminating wastefulness in all production processes. They work on increasing efficiency in workplaces and logistics by improving worker training, maintenance and production coordination. Industrial engineers are also responsible for determining the quality and reliability of products—making use of CAD’s FEA capabilities.

BLS states that the top paying industry for industrial engineers is Natural Gas Distribution, offering an annual mean wage of $127,720. And the top paying state for industrial engineers? Texas comes out on top with an annual mean wage of $108,330.

Percentile wages for industrial engineers

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$55,230

$68,550

$85,880

$106,970

$130,930

Source: BLS

3. Mechanical Engineer ($85,880)

DWG for mechanical engineering

2017 median pay

$85,880

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

288,800

Job outlook, 2016-26

9%

Employment change, 2016-26

25,300

Mechanical engineers plan and design tools, engines and machines—essentially, most mechanical devices. To ensure the safety and efficiency of each product designed, mechanical engineers are also responsible for testing prototypes—analyzing aspects like stress. They also oversee the installation and operation of equipment like centralized heating, for example.

Mechanical engineers in the Software Publishers industry have a better chance of a higher pay, with an annual mean wage of $127,540. As for the top paying state for this occupation, Alaska is top of the list with an annual mean wage of $132,100.

Percentile wages for mechanical engineers

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$55,310

$68,270

$85,880

$108,580

$133,900

Source: BLS

4. Civil Engineer ($84,770)

Screenshot of Civil 3D

2017 median pay

$84,770

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

303,500

Job outlook, 2016-26

11%

Employment change, 2016-26

32,200

Civil engineers plan, design and oversee the construction of building structures and facilities—including roads, channels, pipelines and sewage systems. Projects range from small-scale repairs to large-scale structures like airports. Using CAD software, civil engineers can create and redesign structures over and over until they get the perfect output.

The industry with the highest published wages for civil engineers is listed as Other Miscellaneous Manufacturing, according to the BLS—offering an annual mean wage of $149,460. As with mechanical engineers, Alaska is the top paying state for civil engineers, with an annual mean wage of $122,760. 

Percentile wages for civil engineers

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$54,150

$66,260

$84,770

$109,930

$138,110

Source: BLS

5. Architect ($78,470)

CAD Drawing DXF File - Architect Example

2017 median pay

$78,470

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

128,800

Job outlook, 2016-26

4%

Employment change, 2016-26

5,500

Architects are responsible for planning and designing structures that can range from residences to offices to large-scale factories. Detail is key with architects—dimensions and materials have to be specified to the ultimate level of precision. CAD software plays a large role in architecture—to get a better look, you might want to check out how the architectural industry uses CAD

According to the latest stats released by the BLS, the top paying industry for architects is Insurance Carriers—the annual mean wage for which comes out at $114,360. As for the top paying state for this occupation, New York heads the list with an annual mean wage of $100,760.

Percentile wages for architects

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$47,480

$60,550

$78,470

$102,680

$134,610

Source: BLS

6. Industrial Designer ($65,970)

Example of industrial design in Solidworks

2017 median pay

$65,970

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

39,700

Job outlook, 2016-26

4%

Employment change, 2016-26

1,800

Industrial engineers develop and design manufactured products. The beauty of this job is that industrial engineers can be involved in anything from cars to children’s toys—it’s just that versatile. Of course, not only do these products need to be functional, they also need to be aesthetically pleasing and in line with production cost budgets.

If you’re looking for the industry that pays the most for industrial designers, Software Publishers come out on top with an annual mean wage of $97,150. As for the top paying state, Arkansas reigns supreme, offering a mean annual wage of $85,400.

Percentile wages for industrial designers

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$36,430

$49,400

$65,970

$87,410

$106,950

Source: BLS

7. Electrical and Electronics Drafter ($59,690)

screenshot of AutoCAD electrical

2017 median pay

$59,690

Entry-level education

Associate’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

27,400

Job outlook, 2016-26

7%

Employment change, 2016-26

1,900

Electrical drafters prepare a variety of diagrams for electrical engineers, ranging from wiring to circuit board assembly. The diagrams they design will eventually be used for the manufacturing and installation of electrical equipment and wiring systems for power plants, factories and much more.

Electrical drafters looking to join the fold of the highest paying industries should set their sights on Computer and Peripheral Equipment Manufacturing—coming out with an annual mean wage of $81,550. Wondering which state comes out on top for paying the most? Washington is top of the board, with a mean annual wage of $89,990.

Percentile wages for electrical and electronics drafters

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$36,140

$45,910

$59,690

$77,880

$97,970

Source: BLS

8. Mechanical Drafter ($55,130)

Mechanical CAD drawing

2017 median pay

$55,130

Entry-level education

Associate’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

64,800

Job outlook, 2016-26

5%

Employment change, 2016-26

3,400

Mechanical drafters often work hand-in-hand with mechanical engineers when creating and preparing repairs for mechanical devices. Mechanical drafters also develop diagrams for machinery and mechanical devices. These diagrams require a high level of precision—drafters need to specify factors like dimensions and fastening methods.

The top paying industry for mechanical drafters is Aerospace Product and Parts Manufacturing with an annual mean wage of $82,420. The highest paying state for mechanical drafters is Washington yet again, with an annual mean wage of $80,010.

Percentile wages for mechanical drafters

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$34,890

$43,420

$55,130

$69,430

$87,320

Source: BLS

9. Architectural and Civil Drafters ($52,870)

example of a 3d house screenshot in autocad architecture

2017 median pay

$52,870

Entry-level education

Associate’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

99,600

Job outlook, 2016-26

8%

Employment change, 2016-26

8,100

Architectural and civil drafters create and develop drawings of structures and topographical relief maps used in civil engineering projects like highways and bridges. A lot of this work will involve long hours spent surveying prospective project areas, documenting the stages of developing structures and much more.

Architectural and civil drafters looking to rake in the cash might want to look towards Electrical Equipment and Component Manufacturing—offering an annual mean wage of $71,470. And the most profitable location for these drafters? The District of Columbia, coming out with an annual mean wage of $71,530.

Percentile wages for architectural and civil drafters

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$34,070

$42,160

$52,870

$64,910

$79,790

Source: BLS

10. Interior Designer ($51,500)

CAD Drawing DXF File - Architect Example

2017 median pay

$51,500

Entry-level education

Bachelor’s degree

No. of jobs, 2016

66,500

Job outlook, 2016-26

4%

Employment change, 2016-26

2,900

Interior designers plan, design and furnish the interiors of residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Interior designers have to look at every aspect involved in the furnishing, from color to materials to the placement in the room. Most importantly, the design needs to be both practical and aesthetically pleasing.

If you’re looking to find the most profitable industry for interior designs, keep your eyes peeled on the Federal Executive Branch (OES Designation)—the latest figures show an annual mean wage of $80,250. The District of Columbia, once again, is the best place to head, offering interior designers an annual mean wage of $84,820. 

Percentile wages for interior designers

Percentile

10%

25%

50%

75%

90%

Wage

$27,240

$37,690

$51,500

$70,720

$93,780

Source: BLS


If you like to use specific CAD software, like AutoCAD, you might be wondering if there are any job opportunities available. If that’s the case, you might want to take a look at our articles on AutoCAD careers or SolidWorks careers.

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2 Responses to These Are The Highest Paid Jobs in CAD

  1. Josh Clark Sep 28, 2018 at 10:59 AM #

    There are many jobs you can get very good amount but there is everything not about the money and the main focusable thing is knowledge the more knowledge you have in this field the more you get a good amount.

    • luke
      luke Sep 28, 2018 at 11:04 AM #

      Totally agree. If you’re just taking a job for the money, you probably won’t last long.

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