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CAD Vs. AutoCAD: What's the Difference?

CAD, or computer-aided design, uses computer technology to produce 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) images of architectural or industrial designs. AutoCAD is a brand name of CAD software.

Difference Between CAD and AutoCAD

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the generic term for any software that can create 2-D and 3-D technical drawings whereas AutoCAD is the name of a proprietary software of the same use created in 1982 by Autodesk, Inc. CAD software in general is used to create and manipulate geometric shapes into specific designs. AutoCAD software is used in all phases of design for manufacturing, infrastructure and building construction, as well as in the media and entertainment world to create 3-D visual effects.

Types of CAD Software

Unlike AutoCAD which is designed for professional use, other CAD programs like SketchUp Pro and TurboCAD Deluxe are geared toward the general consumer who wants some of the same functions of AutoCAD but without the high cost and learning curve. In addition, some CAD software can only design either 2-D or 3-D drawings/models, while AutoCAD can perform both.

Employment Outlook for CAD Operators

Job prospects for CAD drafters are expected to be the most favorable for those who do electrical and electronics drafting, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS reports that these drafters are projected to have a 5% job growth, while employment for drafters overall is expected to decline by 3% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS also noted that the average salary was $62,040 for electrical and electronics drafters and $53,450 for drafters in general, as of May 2014.

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