What Is AutoCAD?

AutoCAD is a computer-aided drafting software program used for creating blueprints for buildings, bridges and computer chips. AutoCAD is used mainly by drafters, although engineers, surveyors and architects may need to use the software from time to time. Read on to learn more.

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. While drafters work in a number of specialties, the six most common specialization areas are mechanical drafting, architectural drafting, civil drafting, electrical drafting, electronics drafting and aeronautical drafting.

Types of Drafters

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. Aeronautical drafters create blueprints used in assembling aircraft and other related apparatus.

Training Programs

Training in AutoCAD software and computer-aided drafting is available at technical and community colleges, a few 4-year schools and in the military. Technical institutes tend to focus on the practical side of drafting, while community colleges offer courses that are theory-based. Four-year institutions generally offer coursework that can be applied to the field of drafting, such as architecture and engineering. Course offerings also vary by specialty.

Regardless of the institution or specialization area, mathematics is often at the core of any drafting program. Some other general course topics include science, mechanical drawing, engineering technology and, of course, drafting standards.

Students interested in AutoCAD training should look for associate's degree programs in drafting, engineering technology and CAD technology. These programs will often feature courses that focus on the hands-on use of the AutoCAD software package. AutoCAD certificate programs are available as well.

Career Information

According to, the median salary among AutoCAD drafters was $47,220, based on March 2014 data. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that drafters could see a 1% rise in employment from 2012 to 2022, which is significantly slower than the national average of 11% for all occupations.

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