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:
Drawings produced by CAD have a range of uses, including:
CAD draughtspeople usually specialise in a particular industry sector, such as architecture, manufacturing or design. Depending on their employer, they could produce designs for:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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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A CAD draughtsperson should:
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.
Chartered Institute of Architectural Technologists (CIAT),
397 City Road, London EC1V 1NH
Tel: 020 7278 2206
Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB),
Blue Court, Church Lane, Kings Langley WD4 8JP
Tel: 01923 260000
Institution of Engineering Designers (IED),
Courtleigh, Westbury Leigh, Westbury BA13 3TA
Tel: 01373 822801
SEMTA (Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies Alliance),
14 Upton Road, Watford, Hertfordshire WD18 0JT
Tel: 0800 282167
Women's Engineering Society,
The IET, Michael Faraday House, Six Hills Way, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2AY
Tel: 01438 765506
Additional resources for job seekers and those already in a job.