CAD, or computer-aided design, jewelers use advanced software to craft unique and customized pieces. CAD-trained designers typically use the software in a number of ways, including transferring other clients' ideas into CAD designs, being employed at jewelry shops that manufacture their designs in-house or working at companies that produce designers' CAD designs elsewhere. Although CAD jewelry-making software is complex and difficult to learn, jewelry makers with knowledge of this software will be able to better satisfy needs for custom-made jewelry, thereby earning higher salaries than their untrained counterparts.
Considering the Average Pay
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jewelers made an average salary of $35,350 per year, or an average hourly wage of $16.99, in 2012. The highest-paid 10 percent of jewelers made more than $61,940, while the lowest-earning 10 percent took in less than $19,600 over the same period. Specifically, individuals working in specialized jewelry design, including CAD-trained designers, earned a bit less than the vocation's average pay. Specialized designers earned on average $33,700, or $16.20 per hour, in 2012.
Comparing Jeweler Pay by Region
As of 2012, the BLS says the states with the highest concentrations of jewelers were New York, California, Texas, Florida and Massachusetts. The highest average pay does not correspond with the highest jeweler concentration, however; jewelers who worked in New Jersey and Connecticut were paid the highest average salaries, at $49,920 and $48,640 respectively. The cities with the highest pay for jewelers were mostly smaller metropolitan areas, with the Scranton, Pennsylvania, Edison-New Brunswick, New Jersey and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, jewelers earning the highest salaries, at $63,650, $55,640 and $55,630 respectively.
Factoring CAD Training in Jeweler Pay
In 2014, CAD Jewelry designers made a slightly higher-than-average salary than general jewelry makers -- $43,000, according to the job site Indeed. Coastal CAD jewelry designers made more on average than their land-bound counterparts, with designers in California and New Jersey earning on average $47,000 and Florida designers taking home an average of $41,000. CAD-trained designers in Nebraska earned $32,000, while Arizona designers took home $37,000. If you're interested in CAD training, the Women's Jewelry Association, a group which provides mentoring and education for women in the industry, offers scholarships in varying amounts to aspiring female jewelry designers and business owners to pursue coursework in jewelry design.
Speculating on the Future
With the outsourcing of jewelry-making and manufacturing, the BLS estimates that the number of jeweler jobs will decline by 10 percent, with the loss of approximately 3,200 American jewelry-making jobs, between 2012 and 2022. However, the BLS does note that custom-designed jewelry is becoming more and more popular, potentially creating a profitable niche for CAD designers who can turn customers' visions into reality. Still, if you think being a CAD jeweler is right for you, you may also want to learn skills of repair and maintenance, as the BLS predicts that these skills will be necessary for most jewelers.
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2012
- Indeed: CAD Jewelry Designer Salary
- Careers in the Jewelry Industry
- Get Into Jewellery: CAD/CAM Designer
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers
- Women's Jewelry Association: Member Grants & Student Scholarships
- Indeed: CAD Jewelry Designer Salary in California, Nebraska, New Jersey, Florida, and Arizona
- Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images