CAD Draughtsperson

The Job and What's Involved

Computer-aided design (CAD) draughtspeople use their IT skills to produce plans and technical drawings for a wide range of products and components, from buildings and bridges to photocopiers and fabric. They may also update and make amendments to existing CAD drawings.

The work involves:

  • Discussing the brief with the team or project leader.
  • Working from drawings, models or computer models.
  • Using specialist computer software to build up accurate on-screen drawings that can be viewed from different angles and in two or three dimensions.

Drawings produced by CAD have a range of uses, including:

  • Providing a virtual tour of a building or area.
  • Showing how the components in a piece of machinery work together.
  • Engineering or architectural drawings that are used for construction.
  • Linking into computer-aided manufacture (CAM) systems.
  • Modeling of installations and testing for operational problems.

CAD draughtspeople usually specialise in a particular industry sector, such as architecture, manufacturing or design. Depending on their employer, they could produce designs for:

  • Houses, factories, warehouses or bridges.
  • Interiors and kitchens.
  • Individual components and whole assemblies for products as diverse as bicycles, can openers and satellites.
  • Packaging.
  • Electronic products, including phone systems, computers, control systems or circuits.
  • Layouts or signaling for road or rail systems.
  • Fabrics, wallpapers or cutting patterns for clothing manufacture.

CAD draughtspeople normally work in teams with other draughtspeople and professionals including architects, engineers, product designers and engineering designers. It is usual for each draughtsperson to work on a different part of the project.

A junior draughtsperson - may work on technical drawings for components or small sections of a product or project. This can be fairly routine work with little creative input.

Senior draughtspeople - may have responsibility for major sections of the project or the overall design, and could have the opportunity to contribute to decisions about the project.

In smaller consultancies, CAD work may be carried out by designers themselves.

CAD draughtspeople usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, from Monday to Friday. Some employers operate shift working. Additional hours may be required at busy times. There may be some opportunities for part-time work.

They are usually based in a design or drawing office, or in a design section of a larger open plan office. Locations could range from a modern office block to a factory, or to temporary offices on a construction site.

They spend most of their time working at CAD workstations or PC's. A lot of concentration is required to do this job, so the environment is usually quiet.

Senior draughtspeople may need to visit sites, so a driving licence could be useful.

New CAD draughtspeople may start at around £18,000 a year.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

All manufacturing and construction companies work from designs and technical drawings, so there are opportunities for CAD draughtspeople throughout the UK.

Employers include organisations involved in architecture, construction, building services, electronics, shipbuilding, aerospace, railways, and vehicle and consumer goods manufacture. There may be opportunities with broadcasting and telecommunications companies, public utilities such as water and electricity supply, local authorities and government departments.

Some CAD draughtspeople work for design consultancies offering their services to a number of different organisations. There may also be opportunities to take on freelance or contract work.

Vacancies may be advertised in local newspapers, at Connexions centres and Jobcentre Plus, through recruitment agencies and in specialist publications.

Education and Training

Many people enter this career by training with an employer on an Advanced Apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships provide structured training with an employer. As an apprentice you must be paid at least £95 per week; you may well be paid more. A recent survey found that the average wage for apprentices was £170 a week. Your pay will depend on the sector in which you work, your age, the area where you live and the stage at which you have arrived in the Apprenticeship.

Entry to Employment (e2e) can help to prepare those who are not yet ready for an Apprenticeship. In addition, Young Apprenticeships may be available for 14- to 16-year-olds. More information is available from a Connexions personal adviser or at www.apprenticeships.org.uk.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

For further information visit My World of Work www.myworldofwork.co.uk/modernapprenticeships, Careers Wales www.careerswales.com; and for Northern Ireland contact www.careersserviceni.com.

Another way into this career is to study for a qualification such as a BTEC National Certificate/Diploma in a subject such as engineering or manufacturing, before applying for work at technician level. City & Guilds offers certificates in:

  • Computer Aided Design (Parametric Modeling) at Levels 1, 2 and 3.
  • 2D Computer Aided Design at Level 2.
  • Computer Aided Design at Level 3

The qualifications required are usually similar to those for Apprenticeships.

The Diplomas in engineering, construction and the built environment and manufacturing and product design (available from September 2009) may be relevant for this area of work.

Opportunities may exist for adults with a background in engineering or design.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training may combine on-the-job training with experienced colleagues, in-house training in a training centre, day or block release at college and workplace assignments.

Apprentices work towards NVQ Level 3 and study for a qualification such as a BTEC National Certificate or a City & Guilds certificate. The actual subjects studied depend on the employer's business.

When they have finished their training, CAD draughtspeople are encouraged to apply for engineering technician registration with the Engineering Council UK and, if successful, gain the letters Eng Tech after their name.

Technology changes quickly in this field, so it is important for CAD draughtspeople to keep their knowledge and skills up to date though Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

A CAD draughtsperson should:

  • Be computer literate and able to use a wide range of software.
  • Understand construction or production methods and processes.
  • Be confident with numbers.
  • Have good communication skills.
  • Be able to work in an organised way.
  • Work well in a team or alone.
  • Have normal colour vision.

Your Long Term Prospects

Depending on the size of the company and its design section, it may be possible to progress to senior draughtsperson or team leader. Draughtspeople who do further study leading to a degree may be able to progress to positions such as architect or chartered engineer.

There may be opportunities to work overseas. Freelance work may also be possible, either independently or through an agency.

Get Further Information

Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT),
397 City Road, London EC1V 1NH
Tel: 020 7278 2206
Website: www.ciat.org.uk

ConstructionSkills, Recruitment and Careers, Charnwood Wing,
Holywell Park, Ashby Road, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3GJ
Websites: www.cskills.org and www.bconstructive.co.uk

Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB),
Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley WD4 8JP
Tel: 01923 260000
Website: www.ecitb.org.uk

Institution of Engineering Designers (IED),
Courtleigh, Westbury Leigh, Westbury BA13 3TA
Tel: 01373 822801
Website: www.ied.org.uk

SEMTA (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0800 282167
Website: www.semta.org.uk

Women's Engineering Society,
The IET, Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 765506
Website: www.wes.org.uk

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