Computer-aided design (CAD) is influencing every industry. Reducing drafting time, creating 3D visualisations, and running simulations are just a few of the ways that CAD is revolutionising our design processes.

CAD technology is being developed at a rate of knots because of its many benefits, for both designers and the wider businesses they work for. Designers can make quick and easy edits and see their 2D sketches come to life in 3D, either as an image or printed model. Employers cite knock-on effects including faster delivery, increased accuracy, and improved collaboration.

With CAD software clearly here to stay, those who can create and operate it are likely to be in high demand. Getting started in CAD engineering is therefore likely to lead to a lucrative long-term career. So, what are the first steps to becoming a CAD engineer?


There are different avenues into CAD engineering depending on the type of qualifications you have.

While not necessary, having a degree in a relevant subject will be useful and help you to advance quickly in your role. Suitable degrees include engineering (all types), architecture, graphic design, and Information Technology (IT).

Alternatively, you could do an apprenticeship with a design firm. This allows you to gain valuable experience in using the latest CAD design software while you study for your CAD technician qualification.

There are also BTEC courses in computer-aided design that you can pursue from the age of sixteen.

Essential skills

CAD requires you to be analytical with exceptional attention to detail, so being mathematically minded will stand you in good stead. You should also have a reasonable knowledge of engineering science and technology.

Design is also a creative practice, of course, and requires a level of artistic flair. You should be able to think innovatively while staying in the realms of possibility and use your initiative when it comes to solving problems.

What to expect

What to expect from the day-to-day duties of a CAD engineer largely depends on which industry you will be working in. CAD technician roles are found in several types of engineering from chemical to electrical, as well as all design-led sectors such as architecture.

Typical tasks include:

  • Doing technical drawings using CAD software
  • Designing in both 2D and 3D
  • Assessing design proposals
  • Testing designs to identify errors.
  • Creating design plans for others
  • Developing guidelines for designs
  • Collaborating with colleagues and/or clients

Career progression

You will start out as a CAD technician or a junior CAD engineer, no matter your education status. Your specialist CAD qualification and understanding of the relevant software will dictate this.

From here, you can work up to chartered status and register with the Engineering Council for EngTech status. At this point, the door will be open to a wide variety of career paths with well-paid prospects.