CAD stands for Computer Aided Design, and is the overarching term for using computer software to design a whole range of things. CAD technicians are those who operate the systems, and work across the board in a host of industries, from engineering to manufacturing and construction.
There are two types of work in the job, designing in 2D (known as surface modelling) and in 3D, (known as solid modelling). Surface modelling is used to display representations of a particular product, where solid modelling creates a real scale model of what it is that you’re trying to build or create, for example you can examine a new piece of equipment that’s being created or make a virtual model of a building to allow for consultants to determine what is going to go where.
Salary & benefits
As a starting salary, a junior technician would expect to earn between £15-£20,000 per year, whilst this figure would rise up to £30,000 for an experienced technician, although all wages depend on your field and the company you are working for.
Those with relevant degrees (such as engineering or product design) would be able to push a little bit harder for salary increases due to the level they would be working at, and at top level firms and companies (for example in Formula 1), senior CAD technicians can rake in huge amounts of money.
Most companies that employ CAD technicians will be based around a 9-to-5, Monday to Friday schedule. You’d be based at a computer desk in order to complete the tasks you’ve been assigned and would be given new tasks by the engineer in charge of your particular sector.
If you choose to be a technician in the construction sector, there’s some more tasks you might be expected to do. Before and after completing models from the blueprint, you might be expected to go on site with the consultant in order to get a better idea of how the place is laid out, therefore improving your work.
There are numerous ways into the profession – the first of which is an apprenticeship with an Engineering firm. In order to access this, however, you will need at least 4/5 GCSE’s at A to C level, more than likely including Maths and a Science.
Alternatively, you could learn your trade in college, and there are multiple courses that teach you the basics of Computer Aided Design across the whole range of industries. It’s possible to specialise at this level if you know what industry you’re interested in, and also possible to do a more general course if you’re unsure. Both will undoubtedly give you a leg up when applying to CAD jobs.
Another way in is through a University degree in a relevant subject, such as Engineering. This will usually give you an entry point into a more senior role, which means the pay is better, although it by no means guarantees it and you’ll need to pick your modules carefully in order to maximise your use of CAD software.
Training & progression
Once you’re in the role, you’ll learn as you go along, especially related to bespoke CAD ideas that are unique to the industry that you’re a part of. There are further qualifications you can acquire to improve your work and to fine tune your skills.
Once you’ve become a more senior technician there’s also the opportunity to become a member of the Engineering Council, which grants you EngTech status, further improving the opportunities for career progression and improving your wages.