AutoCAD Drawing Career Information

Sep 10, 2019

AutoCAD is generally offered as a vocational program with hands-on training. Keep reading for an overview of the software, as well as career and salary info, for potential career options for graduates.

AutoCAD software can be used for any job that needs to create digital designs, blueprints or even special effects. Drafters, architects, and civil engineers are three careers that use AutoCAD software in their work. AutoCAD experience can be gained through certificate or degree programs, typically in 1-2 years.

Essential Information

Users of AutoCAD, a software application made by Autodesk, Inc., draw and draft designs, blueprints and special effects. Like other computer-aided design (CAD) software, AutoCAD can produce 2D or 3D visual guidelines used to construct products or structures. AutoCAD designers include industrial designers, architects and engineers, who may be involved in the production of complex products such as cars, buildings or bridges. The availability and affordability of the software, combined with a slowing manufacturing sector, have reduced industrial employment of AutoCAD operators in separate drafting departments.

Career Titles Drafter Architect Civil Engineer
Education Requirements Certificate in computer-aided design Professional bachelor's degree in architecture Bachelor's degree in engineering
Additional Requirements N/A Professional licensure Licensure sometimes required
Projected Job Outlook (2018-2028)* 0% growth 8% growth 6% growth
Median Salary (May 2018)* $55,550 $79,380 $86,640

*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

AutoCAD drafting is performed by technical professionals such as engineers, architects, designers and drafters. It's an essential skill for those aspiring to be engineering technicians or tool and die makers. AutoCAD drawing is also used in creative fields such as fashion, jewelry and interior design, landscape architecture, special effects and computer graphics.


Drafters use software like AutoCAD to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings and plans. Drafters typically need specialized training, which can be accomplished through a technical program that leads to a certificate or an associate's degree in drafting. In May 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the median salary for all drafters was $55,550.


Architects plan and design structures like homes, office buildings, theaters, factories and more. They use AutoCAD to create technical drawings of their work plans. Architects need to hold a professional bachelor's degree in engineering, and state licensure is required as well. According to the BLS, the average annual salary for architects in May 2018 was $79,380.

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers design, construct, supervise, operate and maintain large construction projects and systems. They work on projects involving infrastructure, buildings and water supply. The BLS expects the number of jobs for civil engineers to increase 6% from 2018-2028; and in May 2018, the median salary for a civil engineer was $86,640. Civil engineers need a bachelor's degree, usually in civil engineering, and those who serve the public directly must hold an engineering license.


One way to learn to operate this software is to enroll in a 1- or 2-year certificate in computer-aided design, or an associate or bachelor's degree in a field that uses AutoCAD. Computer-aided design courses are commonly part of the curriculum for a host of such disparate training programs as clothing design and civil engineering.

A person with CAD skills may be hired to use a company's AutoCAD software and learn about the software program on the job. Another way to learn is to purchase the product and use the courseware, books, online resources and live classroom instruction offered by the company through its website.

For drafters, architects and civil engineers, AutoCAD is an essential tool in their work, giving them the ability to turn designs and drafts into technical blueprints. These 2D and 3D blueprints then serve as guidelines used for manufacturing and construction. A certificate may be enough for some careers, but other occupations call for a college degree.

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