CAD operators and CAD technicians use CAD (computer aided design) packages to produce drawings for construction and manufacturing purpose.
- Newly trained CAD operatives can earn in the region of £14,600 - £20,000
- Trained with experience CAD operatives can earn in the region of £20,000 - £35,000
- Senior, chartered or master CAD operatives can earn in the region of £35,000 - £50,000
Salaries depend on location, employer and level of responsibility. Salaries and career options also improve with chartered status.
Qualifications and Training
To gain CAD skills, you can take one of many college courses. These include:
- BCS Certificate in 2D Computer Aided Design (ECDL CAD) Level 2
- BTEC Certificates and Diplomas in Engineering Levels 2 and 3
- BTEC National Certificates and Diplomas in Mechanical, Manufacturing or Civil Engineering Level 3
- City and Guilds Certificate in Computer Aided Design Parametric Modelling Levels 1 to 3
- City and Guilds Certificate in 2D Computer Aided Design (4353) Level 2, and Level 3, which allows you to specialise in 2D or 3D design
College courses tend to use AutoCAD for learning, which would offer you a good understanding of technical design. Some colleges may also run more specialised software packages, including AutoCAD LT, Autodesk Architectural, CATIA, PRO/Engineer, SolidWorks and 3ds Max.
You have more training once you are doing the job. This is usually specific CAD software relevant to your industry. So, for example, you might train on PDS (Plant Design Systems) if your company designs petrochemical facilities.
You could take a work-based qualification (depending on your job) such as:
- NVQ Performing Engineering Operations Levels 1 and 2
- NVQ Engineering Technical Support Level 3
- EAL Advanced Diploma in Engineering and Technology Level 3
You could also work towards a BTEC HNC, HND or foundation degree in engineering, construction or civil engineering.
To get onto a construction apprenticeship scheme, you need five GCSEs (A-C) – or the equivalent – in subjects such as maths, science, engineering, design and technology. You have to find an employer who is willing to take you on as an apprentice, and many colleges, training providers and programmes introduce potential apprentices to interested employers.
CAD apprenticeships include a training qualification (known as the diploma or technical certificate), a work-based qualification (known as an NVQ), and basic English and maths (known as Functional Skills, or Essential Skills in Wales) and Employment Rights & Responsibilities to help you at work. It also covers employment responsibilities along with personal learning and thinking skills.
Experienced CAD technicians can register with the Engineering Council to gain EngTech status for professional development.