Discussion Thread

  • 1.  CAD Certification

    Posted 05-16-2019 09:56 AM

    Hi Ya'll,

    I am going in as a sophomore this fall as a Civil Engineer. I was debating getting a CAD certification over the summer to better position myself for internships next summer. I know that I don't need the certification but the experience of Auto-Cad or Civil-3D. My reasoning was that I could also pursue a job drafting at Texas A&M University while in school. However, I have done some job searches for CAD drafting using different "keywords" in different cities near me and nothing really comes up. Would a certification make a difference in getting an internship next summer or should I just focus on learning Auto-CAD and Civil-3D on my own? I can always test for the certification itself. I just need a little bit of guidance from ya'll. Thank you in advance. 

    All the best, 

    Anand Kramer S.M.ASCE
    Austin TX

  • 2.  RE: CAD Certification

    Posted 05-16-2019 11:55 AM

    That is a great question, and as always I think the answer is it depends. Do you know what do you want to specialize in (civil, structural, water, etc..)? The way AutoCAD is used in all these fields is very different so it would be worth thinking about that. In my case, as a structural engineer, the use of CAD is mainly to create construction drawings that just require a basic knowledge of AutoCAD, I am not generating grading plans or using it for surveying. The knowledge I had from college was enough to get me started and using it daily now has improved my proficiency. I would say, most of the bigger companies have drafters already that would do that for you. If you are going to be in a field like civil or geotech where AutoCAD is used more heavily and more technical knowledge is required, getting a certification guided towards that specific field would be beneficial in my opinion. 

    Hope this helps you.

    Luis Duque EIT,A.M.ASCE
    Structural Engineer
    Broomfield CO

  • 3.  RE: CAD Certification

    Posted 05-17-2019 08:42 AM

    Hey Anand,


    I'm a 33 year old self-employed civil engineer in Tampa, FL who's been operating AutoCAD since I was 16 years old. The main distinction I have with my competitors is not only doing my own drafting, but being highly proficient at it and paying attention to detail when it comes to preparing construction documents.


    In short, I highly recommend immersing yourself in any and all AutoCAD/Civil 3D trainings you can as soon as you're able. Most universities do not properly prepare engineering students for the sharp learning curve that is drafting and it causes burnout and failure early on in young careers.


    Take the course. Take the course. Take the course. Godspeed to you!



    Dave Ureña, P.E.

    Banneker, LLC

    3104 N. Armenia Ave

    Suite 2

    Tampa, FL 33607




  • 4.  RE: CAD Certification

    Posted 05-17-2019 04:59 PM
    Consider searching for detailer in the job description instead of draftsman.  I would only look that you have taken a drafting class... the certification does not mean much to me.  Most skills can be learned on the job.  Knowing what to draw is more important than how to draw it.  There is always a help menu for that!

    Chad Morrison P.E.,M.ASCE
    Professional Engineer
    Greenville RI
    (401)231-4870 EXT 2207

  • 5.  RE: CAD Certification

    Posted 05-19-2019 11:17 PM
    Certifications for engineers, particularly for CAD, are much less important than technical coursework/engineering work experience. There are still firms out there who use dedicated drafters, and it's hard to know where you will end up.

    I've also never seen it happen that a summer intern or full-time person didn't get hired simply because he or she didn't have experience in a particular drafting program. In comparison, I can say engineers have definitely NOT been hired based on technical coursework and previous work experience. That's not to say learning the CAD programs where you work isn't important, just that it's usually not the basis for a hiring decision, so it should not be your primary focus.

    I will also second the comment about which civil engineering field you are pursuing. For one example, if you are going structural buildings (where I've been for 10+ years), I'd learn Revit instead, particularly how to create a model and export it to the structural analysis software.

    To be honest, if you used the time you had allocated to gain the certification, to instead apply it to some part-time hours working in a relevant area during the school year (TA job, work-study program, co-op, etc.),  or even interviewing professionals who are already working about their career paths/what they wished students knew before they started working (which has the double benefit of expanding your network for your job-hunt), your time would be better spent.

    Stephanie Slocum P.E.,M.ASCE
    Engineers Rising LLC

  • 6.  RE: CAD Certification

    Posted 05-20-2019 02:52 PM
    I'm inclined to agree with Stephanie.  While you would certainly utilize the skills you would learn in that class, it would not be the most beneficial use of your time.  The bulk of drafting work at most firms is done by "drafters" or "CAD technicians."  Most I know have an associates degree and a lifetime of experience and they handle the bulk of the drafting work.  This allows engineers to spend more time (budget) on a project working on the complex "engineering" issues.

    This is not to say CAD skills are not important, but that drafting skills will be secondary to engineering experience.  Unless you're sure about what you want to do, learning advanced software can be really hit or miss.  It's not likely to hurt you (directly) learning software you may not end up using.  However, if you could have used that same time to get engineering experience, that will always be a lot more beneficial to you.

    James Smith P.E.,M.ASCE
    Design Engineer
    Grand Rapids MI