CAD operators and CAD technicians use CAD (computer aided design) packages to produce drawings for construction and manufacturing purpose.
The Role
  • Following complex instructions and diagrams to create or modify drawings
  • Taking verbal direction and implementing into sketches and calculations to produce the final work
  • Producing plans, elevations, technical details and building layouts
  • Coordinating filing, storage and retrieval of drawings
  • Drawing maps, diagrams or plans for construction projects and structures
  • Planning and drawing details of bridges, highways and waste water management systems
  • Being able to define problems and find solutions for them
  • Visiting sites
  • Work with architects, engineers, building services and other construction workers in producing plans and drawings.
  • Knowledge in using different software packages to convey instructions about materials, technical specifications, assembly procedures, measurements and site requirements.
  • CAD operators can be known by other names, such as BIM technician, digital design technician and civil CAD operators, and each have some role-specific duties that they do.
  • Accuracy is important for CAD operators, as you need to take lots of complicated and technical information and interpret it into a drawing, with little supervision.
  • Newly trained CAD operatives can earn in the region of £17,000 - £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 & 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 9-4 (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.   Experienced CAD technicians can register with the Engineering Council to gain EngTech status for professional development.