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What Is AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is a computer-aided drafting software program used to create blueprints for buildings, bridges and computer chips, among other things. Discover how AutoCAD is used by drafters and other professionals.

AutoCAD: An Overview

AutoCAD is a 2-D and 3-D computer-aided drafting software application used in architecture, construction and manufacturing to assist in the preparation of blueprints and other engineering plans. Professionals who use AutoCAD are often referred to as drafters.

Training Programs

Training in AutoCAD software and computer-aided drafting is available predominantly at technical and community colleges. Individuals can pursue certificates or associate degrees related to AutoCAD, drafting or engineering technology. Bachelor's degree programs in related fields, such as engineering, may also require students to take AutoCAD courses.

Most professional drafters have either certificates or associate degrees within their fields, so students interested in AutoCAD training should look for these programs in drafting, engineering technology and CAD technology. Most of these programs feature courses that focus on the hands-on use of the AutoCAD software package. Some programs may even prepare students for AutoCAD industry certification.

Career Information

While drafters work in a number of specialties, the five most common specialization areas are as follows: mechanical, architectural, civil, electrical, electronics.

  • Mechanical drafters prepare plans for machinery and mechanical devices.
  • Architectural drafters draw up plans for residential and commercial buildings.
  • Civil drafters draw up plans for use in the design and building of roadways, bridges, sewer systems and other major projects.
  • Electrical drafters work with electricians to prepare diagrams of wiring electrical system layouts.
  • Electronics drafters also prepare wiring diagrams for use in the making, installing and repairing of electronic gadgets.

According to PayScale.com, the median annual salary among AutoCAD drafters was $49,215, based on January 2016 data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that drafters could see a 3% decline in employment from 2014 to 2024, but this number applies to all drafters in general. For example, during the same date range, employment opportunities for mechanical drafters are expected to decline at a slightly faster rate of 7%. On the other hand, job opportunities for electrical and electronics drafters are projected to increase 5% from 2014-2024, which is about average compared to all occupations.

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