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Retrain as a CAD Designer?

(49 Posts)
Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 07:34:18

I am 40 and looking for a career change. I was in the legal field before.

Would I be unreasonable to think I could re-train and work as a CAD Designer?

I am quite good with IT. I have seen 2 college courses for City & Guilds Level 2 and 3 in 2D and 3D Design.

Would be so grateful if anyone could advise me if I am wasting my time (and money).

RunsWithScissors Sun 15-Mar-15 07:37:11

Oh, I have no information I help yo , but it sounds interesting.

CAD would be great for 3D printing, wouldn't it? I'd assume it would be a great move.

Flingingmelon Sun 15-Mar-15 07:38:31

So long as you are not doing it for the money, go for it smile

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 07:41:21

Thank you for replying, I am really grateful smile

I have seen some of the starting salaries. I just wonder if my age will be against me or, if there is a better qualification I should be aiming for?

HoneySwampDragonInMourning Sun 15-Mar-15 07:46:47

I don't think your age will be against you, I think it would be a positive.

We're always on the lookout for CAD designers, and a bit of life experience and other skills/knowledge would be seen as a massive bonus.

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 07:57:31

Oh fantastic! That is great news honeySwamp.

Flingingmelon Sun 15-Mar-15 08:00:00

Re money, I just meant legal is more lucrative, but I presumed you were a solicitor ��

Agrestic Sun 15-Mar-15 08:14:49

Buddy I've also been considering this. Do you know what area you'd like to work?

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:10:40

I have no idea Agrestic smile. I am just seeing what qualifications would be best!

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:14:34

Any industry really that gives me work. The courses I am looking at do cover construction but can be used just as well elsewhere.

ToBeeOrNot Sun 15-Mar-15 09:17:15

I think there's probably enough stuff online that you could probably suss out whether you enjoy it and have an aptitude for it before taking it any further.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 15-Mar-15 09:19:57

You will need to specify the industry, CAD software can vary a lot from sector to sector.

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:22:42

Tobee thank you and that is a good idea.

ManOfSpiel Sun 15-Mar-15 09:22:49

I agree with honey

I've worked for most of the big aero/defence companies in the UK and they've generally been crying out for decent CAD designers. At the moment we're looking specifically for women as there aren't enough in engineering.

I started my career as one and loved it. You don't need any formal qualifications but you definitely need seat time in front of a CAD station so some sort of course is definitely required.

Do you know what area you would like to enter?

If you do know then knowledge of specific software is an advantage as there are many and all slightly different to operate. The aero industry mainly uses CATIA. Outside of aero, I'm not sure.

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:24:41

Boney would I need to specify an industry at the early stage? I have my eye on AutoCAD, Advanced 3D Computer Aided Design (CAD) - Level 3 and also Revit.

SylvaniansAtEase Sun 15-Mar-15 09:25:10

There are massive differences in the type of CAD applications used from sector to sector... and the pay of respective technicians. Engineering (from mechanical to transport to chemistry), products, archaeology, local government... what do you want to be involved in? Discover that first.

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:26:28

ManofSpiel thank you, that sounds so positive. Could I PM you with the course I have in mind, if you could give me your opinion if it is any good.

I am from a corporate IT background (in contracts) so I hope some of that is transferrable in terms of work experience.

SylvaniansAtEase Sun 15-Mar-15 09:27:19

You could certainly start the basic 2D and then 3D design courses now, which would give you a general background and get you 'understanding' CAD. Actually that's maybe the best way to do it, so that you have a better idea of different applications for different sectors.

Buddy80 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:29:31

Sylvanian thank you very much, that is very useful advice, I really appreciate it.

ManOfSpiel Sun 15-Mar-15 09:30:58

OK just read some more posts!

What I'd also add is that it would be useful to do a technical course to supplement the design aspects. If construction then I'm not sure exactly but anything that will help you understand the technical content of the designs you're producing.

If aero or automotive then an engineering course so you understand manufacturing, assembly, tolerances etc. It's possible to just design but having some additional technical knowledge will help you succeed more.

EbwyIsUpTheDuff Sun 15-Mar-15 09:33:20

My fiance works in the field. He says his biggest problem was lack of relevant experience when he was starting out. His job is mainly using Solidworks rather than AutoCAD.

ManOfSpiel Sun 15-Mar-15 09:34:07


Always happy to help so feel free to pm and I'll have a look smile

EbwyIsUpTheDuff Sun 15-Mar-15 09:35:03

He does have a degree in product design which helps, though!

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 15-Mar-15 09:40:44


Choosing before you start is (IMHO) essential.

As manofspiel pp aero uses CATIA but BAE is Cads 5 and AutoCad, There is also Solidworks, Virtual worlds. Microstation, 3D PDS.

As I see it you have two options
1/ choose the industry and investigate which programs they use.
2/ choose the software and follow that industry.

If you are producing design drawings which people work from you will also need to know about Orthographic drawings as well.

Most of the CAD sites have free trial downloads that you can have a look at. So that may be a place to start.

As an aside the problem with college courses is that they sell which ever software that they have as the industry standard and this isn't true.

You really do need to know where your chosen CAD is going to lead you.

Linking to manofspiel again various sectors are failing over themselves to hire women, it may be of benefit to find out which these are and see if they have a direct access training program.

Minus2seventy3 Sun 15-Mar-15 09:53:15

Have you got an engineering qualification? Because without one, how can you carry out "designs"? - by all means, get some CAD training, but chances are, any positions open to you will draughting, or if they're labelled design, it'll be realising/CADding up someone else's work.

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