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How important are 3D CAD qualifications?

The CADjobhunter network and DEVELOP3D Jobs looks into whether you should invest in upgrading your 2D skills to 3D.

The following article was first published on DEVELOP3D on 3rd May 2011

As competition for jobs mounts up it’s no surprise that it’s skills that catch the eye, but if your 3D CAD qualifications are lacking does it mean the end of the road?

As redundancies have seen talented designers and engineers thrown out from their comfortable lives where 2D was the norm, many are now becoming worried about how they’ll cope in a changing world.

We tracked down a mixture of designers, CAD training agencies as well as employers to find out what they believe is the best way to get ahead.

The Training Agency

Responsible for training thousands of designers and engineers across the country, Solid Solutions offers around 20 different training courses in SolidWorks that last from a couple of days to over a month’s worth.

Training manager Adam Hartles admits that the longer courses can get very expensive, but explains that the majority of people can get what they need through its Essentials Course. “We’d always recommend our Essentials Course because although we market it as a basic course it’s a very broad skill set that you end up with: It covers a lot of the SolidWorks products,” explains Hartles.

“It can be quite intense, but they go away with a handbook and contact details for them to get back in touch as well.

“What it teaches is not only how to use the software, but how to use it correctly – so it’s best practice and best principles – if people are aware of the fundamentals of the software then they can generally work their way through the more advanced stuff.”

Training is widely available from most CAD vendors, and as Hartles points out, at courses there’s usually 10 to 15 people around at any time from different companies where networking at such events has been known to open doors for jobseekers.

The re-educated designer

Darren Fenton is now the head designer at Outsource CAD, specialising in taking on freelance design projects. At 30 years-old he’s not immediately recognisable as the older generation struggling to grasp 3D design, but instead found himself leaving university armed only with 2D methods in a profession rapidly moving forward.

“You were realising that 2D was over and that everyone wants 3D for engineering projects so they can see spatially how things fit, rather than 2D flat images,” says Fenton, like many, obviously aggrieved that a degree had left him a step behind the profession he was moving into.

Since then he has upgraded his skills to encompass product design, engineering and architectural projects, primarily through self-tuition.

“I had a couple of days on a training course, but the vast majority was on the job training; doing tutorials and teaching yourself at night time. The two day training course was enough to give you a helping start, but the vast majority has been training myself through jobs – everybody uses a different 3D package, and every package runs differently.”

It all comes down to one thing: “You can charge more for 3D! Let’s face it, there are a lot of people out there that can do 2D design, but there are probably less that can do 3D.”

Although a training course gave him the basics, he turned to books for step-by-step guides in order to develop his knowledge.

The big employer

Last year Dyson set about doubling the size of its design and engineering departments by recruiting 220 people. This year they are aiming to recruit around 150 more [several of the positions have been advertised on DEVELOP3D

Ninety of last year’s recruits were graduates kitted out with the latest CAD skills, but a similar number were reliant more on experience than 3D skills.

“The 3D aspect is only a very small part of what we do,” states Steven Morris, Dyson’s HR and resource advisor. “We take on many people in the latter stages of their career who have excellent mechanical knowledge, for example, and maybe need to be brought up to speed from a 3D perspective.

3D CAD is no longer the tool of the future, but of right now – an intricate cog in the product design lifecycle.

“We try and see the potential in every individual that we interview, recognise their strengths and weaknesses, and work with them from a performance perspective to make sure they have the skills to draw upon to be effective within Dyson,” concludes Morris.

With its own training centre and specialist in-house CAD trainer, Dyson is a massive company expanding rapidly: not a completely realistic picture of what’s happening elsewhere.

The baby boomer

Mamas & Papas is a global brand specialising in prams, highchairs and all things
baby-related, and has recently taken a large section of its design and engineering in-house. Despite the company’s growth it, like many others, has 3D modelling experience as key to candidate criteria.

“We would struggle to bring somebody in without a 3D background,” reveals head of design Richard Shaw.

This sits at the head of Mamas & Papas trend of taking on and nurturing graduate talent. “The whole 3D side of design has evolved over the last ten years, and pretty much every graduate has that as part of their core skills.

“Once you’ve got that foundation it’s relatively easy to build that up quickly, but to bring someone on without those skills initially is a big risk for a business.”

Original design and manufacturing product development manager, Ben Hardman, adds: “It’s always more about the person than the package
that they’re using – but in this day and age, it’s pretty much a prerequisite
for the job. It does affect your ability to fit into a team and a business.”


As many of you are finding out: 3D CAD is no longer the tool of the future, but of right now – an intricate cog in the product design lifecycle. Without it a designer or engineer is going to struggle.

Learning these skills is going to have its costs, both time and financial – it’s an inevitable step, regardless of how much you invest in it, if you’re searching for new employment.


Matt Wells heads up DEVELOP3D Jobs, our very own home for the best UK-based design and engineering vacancies. Check out the latest available
positions here

Hello and welcome to…DEVELOP3D

I am very excited to announce that CADjobhunter has joined forces with the publishers of the very popular product development journal DEVELOP3D by providing them with a jobs website, that complements their existing online content.

The website is due to go live on Monday 15th November, in time for the latest release of DEVELOP3D to drop through your letter box.  However those who subscribe to the DEVELOP3D iPhone and iPad app (and get an advanced preview of this month’s edition) we apologise that the site is not yet live.  But you can get a great indication of the types of jobs we are advertising on

About CADjobhunter

If you are new to CADjobhunter, it’s a jobs website dedication to advertising roles which involve the use of CAD, 3D and GIS software.  The website allows job seekers to search for opportunities by the software that they are most proficient in as well as the more traditional, job sector and location options.  The site also allows you to register your details, up load your profile and CV (so recruiters can find you) and register to receive email notifications so that when a job is posted which fit your job search criteria you will receive a notification in your inbox.


The jobs website attached to DEVELOP3D will be part of the CADjobhunter network but will be focussed on the Product Development and Manufacturing (PDM) industries, however there is the option to expand your search to incorporate the AEC and Digital Content Creation sectors, particularly relevant if you feel your skills and experiences span industry sectors.

Also by registering on one site you can login to all websites on the CADjobhunter network.


For those who are familiar with CADjobhunter but new to DEVELOP3D, it is a print and digital resource which tracks the essential technologies used throughout the entire product development process. It provides a constant commentary and analysis of the industry with readership comprising of key decision makers at all levels including engineers, designers, managers, and technical staff.

The printed editions are released on a monthly bases and are free!  If you are interested in receiving a copy each month you can register your details here. You can also view a pdf version of their latest issue here (registration required) and as mentioned previously you can also view the latest release on your iPhone and/or iPad.

Coming soon…

The guys behind DEVELOP3D also publish AEC Magazine, the only title devoted exclusively to AEC technology solutions in use throughout Building, Architecture, Civil & Structural Engineering, and soon their website will also have a job section…powered by CADjobhunter!

We are still working on a few things but we hope that it won’t be too long until you can also use this site.


If you would like to know more, have suggestions or interested in advertising a vacancy (either online or in the new opportunities section of the printed magazines) then I would love to hear from you.

Matt Wells
01252 414007

Digital Tutors – Online training resources

Received an email today from bluegfx announcing that they have agreed to become Digital Tutors European online reseller which prompted me to find out a little bit more about the service.

In a nutshell they offer a training library for users of graphic software.  They cover off 33 different titles which include 3ds Max, Maya, After Effects and Zbrush.

What is quite nice is that they offer a subscription scheme whereby you can pay for 1, 6 or 12 month access which in that time affords you unlimited access to all their training material – and by the looks of things there is a hell of a lot of material, they claim 12,000+.

The subscription which is currently retailing from $45 (£28ish) for the 1 month up to $399 (£250ish) for 12 months would appear on the face of things fairly good value for professional training videos.

However, due to the large numbers of tutorials which can be found on certain other websites for free, is the service redundant?   What price for tutorials you can trust?

I would like to hear your opinions…

Mapping your career – literally

Whilst looking into creative CV writing I came across the example of Copywriter – Ed Hamilton who has produced a very clever CV on Google Maps .

Ed Hamilton's CV on Google Maps

Ed has included everything you’d expect from a ‘normal’ CV – address, education, work experience and interests.

I’m not sure if it’s perfect for everyone, however after having over 40,000 hits its certainly got him noticed.  His musing also demonstrate perfectly his copywriting style.

What do you think?


Hello and welcome to the first blog post for CADjobhunter; your first stop for jobs involving CAD/CAM/CAE, 3D and GIS software.

Firstly allow me to introduce myself. My name is Matthew Wells and the founder of CADjobhunter. I have a 3 year background in recruiting within the CAD industry, mainly for Autodesk. However, over the last year, the economy took a turn for the worse and as with many other companies, recruitment was de-prioritised. Subsequently I was made redundant.

Within this role I found that specialised job boards produced a higher ratio of desirable candidates. The only thing missing was a dedicated CAD, 3D and GIS job board.

Since receiving redundancy I have worked with one of Autodesk’s Gold Partners, bluegfx. With the skills and knowledge I have gained working with these companies I have put together the dedicated job board CADjobhunter.

The mission: To be the equivalent to CAD industry users and employers and build a community for those in this industry to come together, share ideas, thoughts and generally brainstorm with one another.

This blog will be updated weekly with news and views from the CAD world, both locally and internationally, careers advice for recruiters and jobseekers alike and ‘how to’ advice.

I welcome all feedback so please feel free to join in the conversation. Any thoughts and ideas for blog posts will be warmly considered. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter and become a ‘fan’ on my Facebook community page.