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Job Description: CAD Draughtsperson.

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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.

Job Description, salaries and benefits

Computer-aided design (CAD) draughtspeople use specialist computer software to produce plans and technical drawings for a wide range of products and components.

The work involves building up accurate on-screen drawings that can be viewed from different angles and in two or three dimensions.

The drawings' uses could include:

  • showing how the components in a piece of machinery work together
  • engineering or architectural drawings to use for construction
  • linking into computer-aided manufacture (CAM) systems.

CAD draughtspeople usually specialise in a particular industry sector, such as architecture, manufacturing or design.

CAD draughtspeople usually work between 37 and 40 hours a week, from Monday to Friday. Shift working or additional hours at busy times may be required. They are usually office-based and spend most of their time working at CAD workstations or PCs. Work locations can include office blocks, factories or temporary offices on construction sites.

Salaries may range from around £16,000 a year to £40,000 or more.

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
  • enjoy designing on computers and creating drawings.

There may be opportunities for CAD draughtspeople throughout the UK with organisations involved in architecture, construction, electronics, and vehicle and product manufacture. There may also be opportunities with broadcasting and telecommunications companies, public utilities, government and design consultancies.

Many people enter this career through Advanced Apprenticeships. Candidates usually need four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English, maths and science or technology, or equivalent qualifications. It is also possible to apply for technician-level jobs after studying for a qualification such as a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma in a subject like engineering or manufacturing.

Training may combine on-the-job training, in-house and college courses and workplace assignments. Apprentices work towards NVQ/SVQ Level 3 and study for a qualification such as a BTEC National Certificate or Diploma, an SQA National Certificate Group Award or a City & Guilds certificate.

Promotion may be to senior draughtsperson or team leader or, with further study leading to a degree, it may be possible to progress to jobs such as architect or chartered engineer. Overseas work and freelance work may be available.

 

What is the work like?

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.

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 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 signalling 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 the designer themselves.

Starting salaries are around £16,000 a year.

 

Hours and environment

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 PCs. 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.

 

Salary and other benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • New CAD draughtspeople may start at around £16,000 a year.
  • With more experience, this could rise to between £23,000 and £30,000.
  • Senior CAD design draughtspeople may earn around £40,000 or more.

Self-employed or contract CAD draughtspeople may be paid an hourly, daily or project rate.

 

Skills and personal qualities

A CAD draughtsperson should:

  • be computer literate and able to use a wide range of software
  • understand construction or production methods and processes
  • have some knowledge of one or more fields of engineering (mechanical, electrical, electronic, civil)
  • 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.

 

Interests

It is important to enjoy:

  • designing on computers and creating drawings
  • exploring and understanding what a computer program can do
  • finding practical and innovative solutions to design problems.

 

Getting in

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.

Entry for young people

Many people enter this career through Advanced Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships which may be available in England are Young Apprenticeships, Pre-Apprenticeships, Apprenticeships and Advanced Apprenticeships. To find out which one is most appropriate log onto www.apprenticeships.org.uk or contact your local Connexions Partnership.

It is important to bear in mind that pay rates for Apprenticeships do vary from area to area and between industry sectors.

There are different arrangements for Apprenticeships in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. For further information contact Careers Scotland, Careers Wales; and for Northern Ireland contact COIU.

Candidates usually need four GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3), including English, maths and science or technology, or equivalent qualifications. It is important to check with employers that the Apprenticeship will lead to a technician-level job - some Apprenticeships lead to craft jobs.

Another way into this career is to study for a qualification such as a BTEC national certificate/diploma or SQA national certificate group award, in a subject like engineering or manufacturing, before applying for work at technician level. City & Guilds offers a Certificate in Computer Aided Design (Parametric Modelling) at Levels 1, 2 and 3, a Level 2 Certificate in 2D Computer Aided Design and a Level 3 Certificate in Computer Aided Design. The British Computer Society (BCS) offers a Level 2 Certificate in 2D Computer Aided Design. The qualifications required are usually the same as those for Apprenticeships.

Entry for adults

Adults with a background in engineering or design may be welcomed.

 

Training

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/SVQ Level 3 and study for a qualification such as a BTEC National Certificate, an SQA National Certificate Group Award 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).

 

Getting on

CAD draughtspeople with professional status (Eng Tech) may have a wider choice of career development options. To apply for Eng Tech status candidates must:

  • become a member of one of the institutions which register engineering technicians (see the Engineering Council UK's website for a list)
  • demonstrate that they have the necessary technical and personal competence, and are committed to keeping these up to date and acting in a professional and socially responsible manner
  • pass an assessment by practising engineering professionals.

Registration may be more straightforward for candidates who have one of the following:

  • a National Certificate or Diploma in Engineering or Construction
  • a technical certificate as part of an Advanced Apprenticeship
  • an approved Level 3 NVQ/SVQ
  • followed a work-based learning route approved by a licensed professional engineering institution.

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.

 

Further information

 

Further reading

  • Working in art & design - Connexions
  • Working in computers & IT - VT Lifeskills


 

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