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Beginner’s Guide to AutoCAD

Developed by Autodesk in 1982, AutoCAD remains one of the premier technical drawing programs used by professionals like architects, engineers, and industrial designers. The software can produce both 2D and 3D designs which can then be animated for things like demonstrating how a design will move or taking a tour of a building before it’s even been built.

The frequent updates of the program mean that industry standards continue to be met and professionals are always inspired to take their designs to the next level. 

Notable Features of AutoCAD

Other technical drawing software programs have similar capabilities to AutoCAD, but there are a handful of features that make AutoCAD stand out among the competition. 


AutoCAD contains a powerful library of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which are sets of commands that help simplify aspects of a program. The APIs in AutoCAD allow the user to automate several tasks that are frequently used in the design process. This frees up time for the designer, reduces the likelihood of mistakes, and allows the designer to spend more time on more complex job requirements. 

Web and Mobile Applications

Another aspect of AutoCAD that makes it unique is the full functionality of its web and mobile apps. Here, other members of your team can share, edit, and create completely new designs from anywhere. This feature of the program also enables you to easily collaborate with your team across various devices from anywhere in the world.


You might be wondering how such a wide range of industries can use the same software. The toolsets contained within AutoCAD are a big part of the answer to your question. There are several unique toolsets loaded into the program which contain design elements that are specific to one industry. For example, there is an Architecture Toolset, an Electrical Engineering Toolset, and a Mechanical Engineering Toolset. They are all unique to their industry and help boost productivity even more. 

Careers That Use AutoCAD

AutoCAD skills can help further a career in design, architecture, construction, engineering, and others. Let’s take a look at a few career paths where a background in AutoCAD can contribute to success in the field. 

Architectural Design

Architectural Designprofessionals can use software like AutoCAD to design anything from small, single-family homes to entire skyscrapers. This software enables them to show their designs to clients and make any requested changes before building begins, saving both time and money in the process. In addition to knowledge of this software, architects need an undergraduate degree. They also are required to pass a licensing exam (the Architect Registration Examination) before being able to begin working. As of 2020, architects earn around $82,000 per year

Industrial Design

Industrial Designerscreate designs and concepts for a wide range of manufactured items, from toys to home appliances and even automobiles. These professionals usually specialize in one type of product. AutoCAD helps them make their designs look attractive and professional. Being able to display their prototypes in 3D helps the client evaluate the design, ask questions, and request changes. This career can earn you around $72,000 per year and is projected to grow at around 6% over the next decade or so. 


Engineeringis a rather broad industry and these professionals are generally identified by their specialty. For example, there are aerospace engineers, mechanical engineers, civil engineers, and nuclear engineers—just to name a few. Many of them use AutoCAD to design the machines that other people need to work with. The annual salaries for engineers depend on which specialty they work in, but most of them pay very well. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has a list of different engineering occupations, along with their annual salary, projected growth, and licensing and education requirements. 

Pros and Cons of AutoCAD

There are several reasons why AutoCAD is a world-renowned software for design. This program helps professionals save a great deal of time; by being able to use AutoCAD for walkthroughs or flybys of a project instead of creating a scale model, designers can spend more time troubleshooting their creations and working with their clients to ensure everyone’s needs are being met. Users also feel that the interface is fairly intuitive and learning the basics is not too much of a challenge. AutoCAD also allows for simple file conversions to PDFs and other formats so you can easily share your work with others. Finally, the results that AutoCAD produces are up to a professional standard. The software is accurate with measurements and other details; by reducing the likelihood of human error, you can rest assured that your designs have the correct specifications. 

Even though AutoCAD has a lot to offer, there are still some drawbacks that users have highlighted. For one, the initial startup costs can be prohibitive. AutoCAD does offer a standalone licensing price to purchase the software outright, but most people choose to purchase a monthly subscription package to save money. Outside of paying for the actual software, the program needs to be run on a powerful computer to function properly. And, while the program technically can complete designs in 3D, many users feel that this feature still needs some work. The options when designing in 3D are limited, which can lead to your design appearing less realistic than you had hoped. 

Learn AutoCAD with Career Centers

If you’re ready to dive into all that AutoCAD has to offer, check out the list of AutoCAD courses offered by Career Centers. Here, you’ll enjoy small class sizes so each student can get personalized attention. Career Centers also offers free retakes of its courses within six months of the original course date. 

For complete beginners, there are a couple of different options. You can try the six-hour AutoCAD in a Day course for a minimal time commitment, or check out the three-day-long Beginner AutoCAD course. Both courses cover basic drawing techniques, but the longer class also goes into topics such as adding text and setting up layers to your designs. Their Intermediate AutoCAD class is available to students who have already completed the Beginner course or already have equivalent knowledge. Finally, for the most comprehensive experience, Career Centers offers an AutoCAD bootcamp. This five-day course introduces more advanced tools and allows students to work with a simple design, making it more complex throughout the course.

Learn more in these courses

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