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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. View article »

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  • 0:05 Difference Between CAD…
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Video Transcript

Difference Between CAD and AutoCAD

Let's learn the difference between CAD and AutoCAD. We'll mention the different types of different CAD software and even discuss the employment outlook for CAD operators.

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the generic term describing the use of software and computer tools that create 2-D and 3-D technical drawings. CAD software in general is used to create and manipulate geometric shapes into specific designs. AutoCAD is the name of a proprietary software of the same use created in 1982 by Autodesk, Inc. 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.

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  • Architectural Drafting and Design
  • CAD Drafting and Design Technology
  • Civil Engineering Drafting and Design
  • Mechanical Drafting and Design

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 median salary was $59,520 for electrical and electronics drafters and $52,720 for drafters in general, as of May 2016.

CAD describes using computers to create technical drawings, whereas AutoCAD is a specific type of professional CAD software that can create both 2D and 3D drawings and models. Drafters overall can expect a decline in jobs, but electrical and electronics drafters can expect positive job growth.

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