CAD technician careers

CAD Technician Jobs

Did you know?

CAD stands for computer-aided design. All kinds of engineering careers use CAD software to create 2D or 3D designs for buildings, products, product parts and machinery. You don’t need a degree to become a CAD technician, and it’s a great way to combine art and science.

Take on further training at your own pace and you can even use this job as a springboard to a full-blown software or design engineering career!

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CAD technician job trends

How much money can you make as a CAD technician?

£15,000 – £35,000 (UK average)

Recent labour market information says you can earn £15,000 – £35,000 a year on average as a CAD technician in the UK.

Your starting salary can vary because of factors like level of experience, training, or location. Your salary will increase over time as you build skills, knowledge and experience.

What entry qualifications and training do you need?

School, college and training

You can become a CAD technician as a school leaver – and you don’t need A-levels or the equivalent to get started.

You will usually need passing grades of 9-4 (A*-C) in at least four GCSEs or their equivalent including English, maths and a science subject.  Other useful subjects include D&T, ICT, computing and engineering.

If you’re planning on becoming a design engineer later down the line, you can go on to take 2 to 3 A-levels in a topic related to science, maths or engineering. As an alternative to A-levels, you can study a vocational course like a Tech-level in Engineering. From there, you could think about doing an HNC/HND or foundation degree in one of the following subjects:

  • Engineering product design
  • Industrial design

School will give you a good foundation education in the engineering principles you might need to know. It will also help you to apply for further education such as a degree.

The Institution of CAD Technicians has information on courses.

The Engineering Council has a list of qualifications and courses.

Degrees and University

You don’t need a degree to become a CAD technician.

If you are planning to go to university, the following foundation degree, HND and degree subjects may be useful to a design engineering career: Engineering product design

  • Industrial design
  • Computer aided CAD designing
  • Engineering design and manufacture
  • Materials science

UCAS has more information on degree courses and entry requirements.

You can apply for student finance to cover fees and living costs.

Some courses include a year in industry – or you could organise your own work placement in a company. You might also be able to join a company’s graduate trainee scheme if you have a degree in a relevant subject.

Apprenticeships and training

With an apprenticeship (or advanced apprenticeship) you’ll have a paid job with an employer that includes structured training and learning. This training leads to an official qualification that’s recognised by employers as an industry standard.

Many engineering apprenticeships provide training in using CAD software. You can apply for specific CAD technician apprenticeships or look for other training opportunities like civil engineering apprenticeships that will expose you to CAD software as part of your training.

You can seek out CAD technician apprenticeships with organisations like Find an Apprenticeship.

Career progression

With experience, you could register with the Engineering Council to get Engineering Technician (EngTech) status giving you more responsibility and higher salary prospects.

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

You could also work freelance.

What experience do you need for CAD technician jobs?

Work experience

It can help you decide if this is the right career for you if you have previously done work experience in an engineering environment, especially if design is involved. Work experience in a digital environment can also help you build useful skills.

Any work experience where you have demonstrated your CAD design software skills can help your application.

Examples of relevant work experience include:

  • Work shadowing (even if it’s just for a day)
  • Work placements in a company
  • Work placements on a degree course
  • Year in Industry work experience programme for pre-university/undergraduates

Volunteering and extra-curricular activities

You can build your CAD software design skills for free in your own time, and that could help you get work experience! There are lots of free CAD apps for beginners available. For example, AutoCAD software is easy to learn and will help you get the hang of doing 2D drawings. There are plenty of AutoCAD tutorials online for you to try.

From there, you could check out AutoDesk’s Fusion 360 software, which will help you learn 3D modelling and is free for students. Top free CAD software changes all the time, so do your research and have a go.

Volunteering is an excellent way to build up your skills and CV while making connections with people and organisations who could help you in the future.

If you’re aged 21 or under, you could build experience and skills relevant to design and engineering by becoming an Industrial Cadet. You’ll join other students from local schools to take part in industry based activities with a local employer. Visit www.industrialcadets.org.uk for more info.

If you’re a Year 12 student, you can apply for a Nuffield Research Placement. Over 1,000 students a year get the chance to work with scientists, mathematicians and engineers from all kinds of universities and organisations.

If you’re still at school, you can work on your engineering skills outside of lessons to build your first CV. One way is to join a school STEM club.

What skills do you need for CAD technician jobs?

What life and work skills do you need to be a great CAD technician?

Useful skills to highlight and develop in this career include:

  • Good problem solving skills and an enquiring mind – think about how you prefer to solve problems. On your own, or in a team? Both approaches can work. You will often need to spot a problem, consider what tools and techniques might help, carry out a plan to fix the problem then test to see if your solution worked.
  • Good organisation skills – this will help you with your education and training, and also with helping you to make sure projects are done on time. It will also help you plan how to use software tricks like animation and 3D models to your designs.
  • Teamworking skills – you could work as part of a team led by a design engineer. As you progress in your career, you’ll also build leadership and project management skills.
  • Good communication skills – you will be able to present your work by email, over the phone, face to face in meetings, and even through presentations.
  • Good IT and maths skills – engineering is using computers and digital technology more and more these days. Your work is partly creative and visual but needs to be very precise and accurate to ensure anything you design is made to the right scale.

Vocational qualifications and work experience will help you build these skills over time.

Start building these skills right now – sign up for free Young Professional training.

What does a CAD technician do?

In the world of engineering and CAD software, people talk of 3D (creating solid models of what you plan to build) and 2D (surface modelling).

Some things you might be doing:

  • Creating 2D or 3D images of products and parts using CAD software
  • Working with engineers to design machinery parts
  • Helping engineers to decide how much a product will cost to build.

Your first steps into CAD technician jobs

CAD technician jobs are advertised under different job titles. To find jobs for young people in this role, search on job boards for opportunities with these words in the title:

  • CAD technician
  • Apprentice CAD technician
  • Advanced apprenticeship – design engineering

Engineering/Manufacturing jobs you might like...

View job descriptions with average UK salary, useful qualifications and a variety of routes into this career. Or see our full list of careers in engineering and manufacturing!


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