AutoCAD Education Requirements and Career Information

Mar 24, 2021

Drafters, architects and interior designers are three professions that use AutoCAD software in their work. Certificate and degree programs are available in AutoCAD that give students an understanding of the technology and its application possibilities.

Essential Information

AutoCAD is a computer-aided design software program used by professionals in fields such as architecture, interior design, civil engineering, mechanics and electronics. Aspiring drafters can complete a certificate program in AutoCAD drafting or enroll in an associate's degree in drafting and design technology. Another option includes a bachelor's degree program in industrial technology with an emphasis in computer-aided drafting and design technology.

However, it's important to note that aspiring interior designers usually need to complete an accredited program in interior design, and prospective architects must earn a professional bachelor's or master's degree in architecture. All of these programs include CAD-related coursework.

Career Drafter Architect Interior Designer
Required Education Associate's degree or certificate Professional bachelor's or master's degree Bachelor's degree
Other Requirements Optional certification Internship, licensure, optional certification Licensure sometimes required, optional certification
Projected Job Growth (2018-28)* -4% 1% -5%
Median Annual Salary (May 2019)* $57,060 (mechanical drafters); $56,340 (architectural and civil drafters) $80,750 $56,040

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

AutoCAD is most commonly used by drafters and other professions that focus on design and construction. Some of these careers are explored below.


Drafters prepare technical illustrations that detail the engineering and manufacturing specifics needed to build a structure or a product. An AutoCAD software program enables a drafter to develop and store a technical drawing; however, a drafter must still rely on his or her knowledge of drafting techniques, manufacturing theory and engineering. An advantage of using an AutoCAD software program is that it allows a drafter to quickly produce design variations based on specific data.

It is not unusual for a drafter to specialize in a particular area. For example, some common drafter job specialties include civil, architectural, mechanical and aeronautical drafting. Overall, the drafting profession is expected to decline by 4% for the 2019 to 2029 period, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( The BLS, as of May 2019, reports that the median annual salary of a mechanical drafter is $57,060. Architectural and civil drafters made $56,340 in that same time period.


Architects design buildings, such as houses and businesses. They work directly with clients to make sure they are meeting the clients' needs and requirements. They also develop the plans that will be used for construction. Most architects use AutoCAD or another computer-aided design program to help their work.

Jobs prospects for all architects, excluding landscape and naval architects, are predicted to increase by 1% between 2019 and 2029. The BLS predicts that those architects who are up to date with their skills and training will be at an advantage. As of May 2019, architects made a median salary of $80,750, according to the BLS.

Interior Designer

Interior designers are in charge of the internal appearance of a building or other space. They also make sure that interiors follow building codes and other safety regulations. Many interior designers use AutoCAD or another computer-aided design program in their work. Interior designers may specialize in a specific area, such as kitchens or bathrooms, in a specific feature, such as lighting, or may renovate existing spaces.

According to the BLS, job prospects for interior designers should decrease by 5% between 2019 and 2029. Those that focus on specialized design may find more job opportunities. The BLS also reported that interior designers made a median salary of $56,040 as of May 2019.

AutoCAD Education Requirements

Students who wish to learn drafting have many different educational options available to them. A certificate program can be completed in the shortest amount of time and focuses solely on the applications and functions of the AutoCAD software program. An associate's and bachelor's degree program in industrial and design technology provides more in-depth AutoCAD and drafting instruction than a certificate program and requires the completion of general education courses.

Certificate in AutoCAD

An AutoCAD certificate program introduces students to the various AutoCAD functions available and the ways in which the software program can aid the drafting process. Some certificate programs consist of only one course that is split into different sections and have no admission requirements. Other programs may consist of two or more modules and are designed only for professionals working in areas such as architecture, engineering and design.

Most of the instruction requires hands-on participation from students and includes topics such as commands for editing and drawing, image manipulation, coordinate entry methods, text entry and object snap techniques. Advanced topics can include dimensioning and tolerancing, plotting, prototype drawing, scaling and sketching and hatching.

Associate of Science in Drafting and Design Technology

An associate's degree program in drafting and design technology prepares graduates for a career in drafting. Some associate's degree programs in drafting and design technology may also allow students to choose a major area of study. Some possible concentration areas include mechanical drafting, surveying drafting and architectural drafting. Foundation courses cover topics such as technical mathematics, advanced CADD, engineering drawing and introduction to CADD. An associate's degree program in drafting and design technology may also include a number of electives from which a student can tailor his or her degree towards personal professional goals.

Bachelor of Science in Industrial Technology

A bachelor's degree program in industrial technology can include a computer-aided drafting and design option for students who wish to pursue a career as a drafter. Coursework is divided among classes in management, CADD technology and general education. Also, it is not unusual for a program to include a further area of specialization for CADD students in either product design or architectural design.

Students enrolled in the CADD emphasis learn both the theoretical and practical aspects of computer-aided design. CADD coursework includes topics such as modeling, technical freehand drawing, residential design, technical illustration, descriptive geometry and design methodology. Core management courses on industrial organization, operations management, quality management and safety and health provide graduates with a foundation for management-level positions upon graduation.

Drafters use AutoCad technology to develop and store their technical drawings. Architects use the technology to assist them in their work designing buildings and houses. AutoCad can also help interior designers as they prepare their designs for buildings and interior spaces. All are taught as part of the respective degree's professional education programs.

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