what is a CAD designer?

As a CAD designer, you utilise computer-aided design software to modify and create digital models for physical objects. You also generate the technical drawings used as a basis for developing prototypes. Since your role relies on computer-aided design software, you should be an expert in Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks and AutoCAD. The job also requires in-depth knowledge of engineering principles, physics and science.

Apart from developing design blueprints for various products, you establish timelines for product development and budgets. You also assist departments with making vital decisions on the appearance of a product by adjusting the design concepts.

As a CAD designer, you work on designs for complicated structures in various industries. For instance, you create three-dimensional models in manufacturing industries during product development. In the automotive industry, you assist engineers in translating their ideas into digital images that form the basis of a blueprint. You also work in the aerospace industry designing new product features and upgrading existing ones to requirements.

Working as a CAD engineer requires engineering, design and numerical skills for determining project specifications. Your computer prowess also comes in handy since you design the product concepts in digital format.

Would working as a CAD designer suit your tech-savvy skills and interest in design? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in a CAD designer role.

CAD designer jobs

average salary of a CAD designer

According to ONS, your average salary as a CAD designer is £30,000 per year. Entry-level roles in the field attract a compensation package of £25,000 annually. The earnings of experienced CAD designers are over £43,297 per year.

how to increase the salary of a CAD designer

The compensation package of CAD designers varies according to experience, business sector and qualifications. Working for several years in the role increases your expertise so that you can negotiate higher earnings than entry-level workers. You earn a lower salary when you are a trainee or graduate CAD designer since you don't have the hands-on skills to perform complex tasks. Improving your educational qualifications also impacts your compensation package positively. Higher qualifications allow you to take up complex duties or supervisory roles with better pay.

The business sector you work in also influences your compensation package. For instance, creating designs for consumer electronics is likely to pay less than working on aerospace or automotive projects. The job's complexity and the required level of detail improve your earnings. Sometimes, your location also contributes to fluctuations in your salary. Working in large cities like London pays more due to the higher cost of living and increased demand for CAD designers.

cad designer
cad designer

types of CAD designers

As a CAD designer, you can specialise in creating designs for specific industries. Some types of CAD designers include:

  • aeronautical cad designers: you develop engineering drawings and detailed specifications or blueprints for aircraft and aerospace objects. The designs are used to manufacture or modify products to improve their efficiency.
  • architectural cad designers: in the construction industry, you create designs and structural features for buildings. You develop the specifications, including materials and measurements.
  • electrical cad designers: you work in the electrical field and for power generation companies to draft the layout diagrams for power plants and communication centres. You also develop digital blueprints for electrical equipment to help electricians repair or modify them.

working as a CAD designer

Working as a CAD designer involves creating images and solid modelling for products that are valuable to society. Read on for details on CAD designers' daily tasks and work environments.


education and skills

Some of the educational qualifications for CAD designers include:

  • university degree: most CAD designers start their career with a degree course that involves computer-aided design. Higher national diploma courses with a CAD element are also available in architectural technology, design engineering and product design. The courses require 2 to 3 A Levels. Ensure the degree course provides a summer internship to help you develop your skills and gain experience.
  • college course: pursuing a diploma in computer-aided design also kickstarts your career. Explore courses like Level 2 or 3 Diploma in engineering technology or 2D computer-aided design. Other advanced college courses include a T Level in design and development for engineering and manufacturing. The courses require 4 to 5 GCSEs graded 9 to 4.
  • apprenticeship: numerous apprenticeships are available in the role, including intermediate and advanced apprenticeships in manufacturing, engineering and construction, including CAD work.

skills and competencies

Some of the skills required for the role include:

  • creativity: as a CAD designer, your job involves drafting new ideas and models, and you rely on your creative abilities to capture the project idea and features in the technical drawing. Creativity also helps you troubleshoot and find fresh perspectives for improvement.
  • numerical skills: as a CAD designer, your role requires mathematical skills to operate CAD software and equipment. You rely on computational mathematics and dimensional measurements to understand project specifications.
  • technical skills: as a CAD designer, you require proficiency in software applications and various CAD programmes to convert engineering designs to blueprints. Your technical skills help you avoid errors in the design or drafting phases.
  • adaptability: as a CAD designer, you work in a fast-paced industry that is constantly changing. Your ability to adapt to evolving technologies helps you to improve the design process.
smiling cad designer
smiling cad designer


FAQs about working as a CAD designer

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