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What Is the Difference Between CAD and AutoCAD?

Computer-aided design (CAD) is the general term that applies to the use of computers in the design of houses, office buildings, interiors and anything else that previously required hands-on drafting. An AutoCAD definition would include a specific piece of software used by many architects and designers for commercial design purposes. Read on to discover AutoCAD information, the difference between CAD and AutoCAD, along with types of AutoCAD software.

CAD Description and Forms of CAD

CAD, also known as Computer-Aided Design, Computer-Assisted Design or Computer-Assisted Drafting, is a term used to describe technical drawings that represent a concept or idea. Such designs are typically used in the architectural engineering industries. Depending on the type of work you perform, there are different forms of CAD that you could employ. Drafts that are 2-dimensional are flat, while 3-dimensional and 2.5-dimensional drawings show the depth and space of a design. You might use wireframe, surface and solid modeling to calculate the dimensions of a design or simulate how the inner structure of your design might look.

Important Facts About Working in CAD

Median Salary (2018) $87,370 (mechanical engineers), $53,370 (interior designers), $55,550 (drafters)
Key Skills Technical drawing skills, understanding CAD software, engineering, manufacturing, architecture and design
Work Environment Office setting, construction sites, or other field sites
Professional Certification Different certification levels are available through courses and exams sponsored by Autodesk, such as AutoCAD Certified User, AutoCAD Certified Associate and AutoCAD Certified Professional.

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is AutoCAD, the Purpose of AutoCAD and Types of AutoCAD Software

AutoCAD is a trademarked product of Autodesk that utilizes computer-aided design (CAD) principles in the modeling of buildings, manufactured goods, urban infrastructure and even fashion design. These concepts are formed through 2-D or 3-D digital models, with various design options offered by the software to aid users in their blueprint creation.

Because different fields use AutoCAD in specific ways, there are several versions of the AutoCAD software for a variety of work types, such as architecture, mapping and piping design.

If you are an architect or designer, you might use AutoCAD software to create 2- and 3-dimensional drafts of custom home designs or renovations. If you work as a civil engineer, you can use AutoCAD software to design improvements in roadways and make cities and towns more energy efficient. Other industries and professions that employ CAD and make use of AutoCAD software include manufacturing, automotive technology and engineering.

Learning AutoCAD Software

Technical schools or community colleges offer stand-alone courses in CAD that you can complete in a few weeks. You can also find CAD courses as part of a certificate or degree program, such as a fashion design, architecture, or drafting technology program. You can enroll in courses and programs that specifically teach the AutoCAD application, though some schools might use other software, instead.

Autodesk also offers courses and training programs through authorized certification centers. These courses can prepare you to earn certification in AutoCAD from the vendor. Autodesk certification demonstrates your proficiency of the AutoCAD application.

Can I Access AutoCAD for Free?

Students and educators have the benefit of accessing the AutoCAD software for free. AutoDesk offers this version on their website, providing users with an 'educational license' to use the application for academic purposes. However, those who aren't a student, or an educator can still access a 30-day free trial of the software, with any of the industry-specific toolkits provided.