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Design & planning

CAD technician

Computer-aided design (CAD) technicians use software to design structures, machinery, goods and components.

Annual Salary

£17,000 to £35,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

39 to 41 a week

You could work: between 8am and 6pm;

Future employment

There will be 0.5% more CAD technician jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

You could:

  • use 2D or 3D software to produce sketches, schemes, models and detailed drawings
  • check that drawings meet quality and technical standards
  • find and fix inaccuracies or mistakes
  • communicate with engineers, designers and project staff
  • read and interpret engineers' drawings
  • do mathematical calculations to work out angles, weights and costs
  • keep accurate records of different versions of your design work

Working environment

You could work in an office or on a construction site.

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship

You could start by doing a higher national diploma or degree that includes computer-aided design work, such as:

  • construction
  • architectural technology
  • product design
  • design engineering

Courses that include a year in industry or a summer internship will give you an opportunity to develop contacts and gain relevant work experience.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 to 3 A levels, or equivalent, for a degree
For more information

You could train in computer-aided design by taking a college course like:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Engineering Technology
  • Level 2 or 3 Award in 2D Computer-Aided Design
  • Level 3 Diploma in Engineering Design and Draughting
  • T Level in Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction
  • T level in Design and Development for Engineering and Manufacturing

Entry requirements

You may need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English, maths and computing
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths for a T Level
For more information

You could complete an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in engineering, manufacturing or construction.

The exact apprenticeship you take will depend on your job role but there are several that include computer-aided design work.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information

More information

Career tips

It's useful to find out the common design software packages used by companies you want to work for. Some software companies offer student packages or free trials that allow you to practise using them.

In construction design, it's useful to have an understanding of Building Information Modelling (BIM).

Further information

You can find more details about working and training in computer-aided design through:Go Construct; the Institution of Engineering Designers

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With experience, you could register with the Engineering Council to get Engineering Technician (EngTech) status.

You could become a CAD team, project or site manager. With further training, you could become a design or software engineer.

You could also work freelance.

You can find more details about working and training in computer-aided design through Go Construct and The Institution of Engineering Designers.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • design skills and knowledge
  • maths skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • knowledge of engineering science and technology
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to use your initiative
  • ambition and a desire to succeed
  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently
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