An Introduction to CAD Technician Jobs and Careers
One of the rapidly growing areas in design, and engineering design in particular, is that of Computer Aided Design (CAD).
These designers use software applications to design plans for buildings, machinery, cars and a wide range of other products. 3D design is known as solid modelling and 2D design is known as surface modelling.
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Industries employing these designers, most commonly known as CAD Technicians, include engineering, construction and manufacturing. CAD technicians can specialise in aircraft systems and aeronautics, electrical and electronic systems, mechanical systems, architecture and other fields.
Alternative titles for CAD jobs include Computer Aided Design and Drafting (CADD), Computer Aided Industrial Design (CAID), Computer Aided Engineering (CAE), Computer Aided Styling (CAS) and Computer Aided Manufacturing (CAM).
What's Involved in CAD Work
Draughtsmen used to prepare plans by hand, using pencils, tools, paper and a drawing board, but developments in software applications mean that this design can now happen on the computer screen. CAD technicians usually work in teams, using their technical design knowledge to prepare the technical drawings and plans that are used in the design stages of construction and manufacture.
These electronically produced and stored drawings can be programmed directly into manufacturing systems that use digital technology in their automation. Technicians can vary or alter designs, occasionally using manual skills but usually working within the application.
CAD plans form the blueprint for the final product or construction. The details include materials, measurements and construction methods. The information that's entered into the system during the creation of drawings is provided by the rest of the technical design team, whether they are engineers, architects or scientists. The CAD technician's role is to put it all together into the single plan so that ideas can be translated into a solid construction.
During the design process, the technician creates a 2D image of the product design (surface modelling), so that initial responses can be made and modifications made if necessary. Solid modelling involves the 3D design of the product, part or structure. This enables further scrutiny and more additions and modifications. The designs can also be used in costing estimates, assembly instructions and technical manuals.
Who Is Suited to CAD Design?
Candidates are usually preferred who have taken 3D design and technical drawing qualifications at a higher level of education. Technical qualifications in maths, science and engineering technology are usually required, along with training in CAD technical drawing.
You need to have good combination of technical and creative skills, having both mechanical and drawing abilities. Attention to detail and accuracy are clearly very important. Knowledge of manufacturing or construction methods helps, depending on which field you want to work in. You need to be able to mix and share information with a wide range of professional, technical specialists.
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To be a CAD technician, you'll need:
- Mathematical and IT skills.
- Creativity and patience.
- Understanding of engineering design.
- Technical knowledge of materials used.
- Understanding of construction methods or manufacturing processes.
- The ability to work in a structured environment as a team member.
How to Get Started
While at school, you need to focus on technical and science subjects, plus IT and design and technology. Continuing to further education is essential, as the skills required are advanced.
Many technical or tertiary colleges award certificates and diplomas in CAD, and sometimes you can take a 2-year associate degree. There are also short courses at many local colleges, so that you can gain an idea of whether this work suits you or not.
Apprenticeships are available, which allow you to work with an engineering or construction firm while gaining a qualification through part-time study. GCSEs are normally expected in the relevant subjects.
Others gain CAD training in the Armed Forces, using their training in civilian life after taking supplementary training.
CAD Training and Education
Qualifications that can be gained through college attendance 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 & Guilds Certificate in Computer Aided Design Parametric Modelling levels 1 to 3.
- City & Guilds Certificate in 2D Computer Aided Design (4353) Level 2, and Level 3, which allows you to specialise in 2D or 3D design.
You'll usually receive additional training once in position, given that most companies specialise in particular types of project. Employers might also welcome you studying towards further qualifications in their industry, if you don't already have them.
Job Sites for CAD Jobs
Numerous job websites and agency websites list CAD technician vacancies. Vacancies for CAD jobs can also be found on the following specialist sites: