What is AutoCAD?

AutoCAD, the most utilized computer-aided design software, is an integral tool for architects, engineers, and construction professionals. It's an industry-standard program that offers a versatile range of features and is essential for a variety of careers such as drafting, engineering, and design.

Key Insights

  • AutoCAD is a leading computer-aided design software used worldwide by professionals in architecture, engineering, and construction to create 2D and 3D designs, blueprints, and models.
  • Used in drafting, engineering, architecture, and design careers, AutoCAD optimizes design processes with its automation and customization tools, enhancing collaboration on projects across devices.
  • The cost of an individual AutoCAD subscription is $235 monthly, or $1,865 annually, with an Autodesk Flex program available for periodic product use using a token system.
  • Learning AutoCAD can boost your career opportunities and salary in the design industry and offers a solid foundation for learning additional design programs.
  • AutoCAD skills are in high demand across drafting, engineering, architecture, and design careers, with a growing need due to the recent expansion of 3D printing across manufacturing industries.
  • Noble Desktop offers a variety of AutoCAD classes for learners at all levels, with hands-on training by industry experts, including an AutoCAD Professional Certification to accelerate career opportunities.

AutoCAD is the most popular computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting software application worldwide. First released in 1982, architects, engineers, and construction professionals use AutoCAD to create blueprints, schematics, and models. Known as the industry-standard, AutoCAD makes 2D and 3D designing more efficient and is a collaborative tool for professionals in many industries. With this program, you can build an entire model of an object and visualize its height, weight, distance, material, or color before it is actually produced. 

In addition to 2D and 3D modeling, AutoCAD’s key features include its user interaction, web, and mobile applications, and PDF import capabilities. In this overview, you’ll learn more about what AutoCAD is, what it can do, who uses it, and how to learn the software so you can determine how to add this vital skill to your professional toolbox.

What Can You Do with AutoCAD?

The industry-standard software for CAD and drafting, AutoCAD enables users to create, edit and collaborate across desktop, web, and mobile devices. With AutoCAD, you can produce precise 2D and 3D drawings and models, electrical diagrams, construction drawings, interior designs, and more. 

AutoCAD is a versatile software featuring many industry-specific tools and features. It makes the design process easier through its many automation and customization tools. AutoCAD is a popular and vital tool for professionals in many industries, including interior design, project management, machining, manufacturing, architectural design, and engineering. The software allows team members to share and collaborate seamlessly on projects across their devices from anywhere. 

How Do You Get AutoCAD? How Much Does it Cost?

Adding AutoCAD to your desktop or mobile device is easy. Simply visit the Autodesk website, sign up for a subscription, and download the software. Since Autodesk is continually updating AutoCAD—with nearly 40 versions—the subscription model allows constant access to the most up-to-date version.

AutoCAD Bootcamp: Live & Hands-on, In NYC or Online, Learn From Experts, Free Retake, Small Class Sizes,  1-on-1 Bonus Training. Named a Top Bootcamp by Forbes, Fortune, & Time Out. Noble Desktop. Learn More.

AutoCAD is a bit pricey, but fortunately, tiered pricing and financing options are available. An individual AutoCAD subscription costs $235 monthly, $1,865 a year, or $5,315 for three years. 

As an alternative to a subscription, Autodesk has launched a new program called Autodesk Flex. This program allows for occasional product use using a token system. You can purchase a token to access AutoCAD for 24 hours at a time for around $3 each. 

Autodesk has also added a helpful tool on its website to estimate how many tokens a user may need to purchase. For example, it estimates one person using AutoCAD for 24 hours would need seven tokens, or three users using it three days a month would need 800 tokens. This Flex program is cost-effective for individuals and companies with multiple users who don’t need everyday access to the product. Prices and structures are subject to change over time. 

Not entirely sure you want to make a purchase? You can download a free trial at Autodesk to try out the software. And if you are a student or educator, you may be eligible for a free yearly subscription. See the website for details.

What Are the Benefits of Learning AutoCAD?

Creating 2D and 3D blueprints, schematics, and models is crucial in architecture, engineering, drafting, and construction. As a result, learning software like AutoCAD is a valuable addition to your resume if you hope to pursue a design career in these fields. There are several exciting career opportunities available for people with AutoCAD skills.

Adding AutoCAD to your resume will put you ahead in today’s job market and help increase your salary. It may also help to advance your career if you’re already employed. Furthermore, since all other CAD software is modeled after AutoCAD’s interface, learning it will give you a solid foundation for learning any additional design programs. It’s also a valuable skill to have if you hope to make some extra money freelancing or enhance your hobbies like home and furniture design or personal 3D printing. 

Read more about why you should learn AutoCAD

AutoCAD Careers

AutoCAD is an essential tool for professionals in several different sectors. In fact, many workers in these fields could not perform their jobs without this versatile software. Here are some careers where AutoCAD skills are in high demand:

  • Drafting: Drafters use AutoCAD to convert designs (created by architects and engineers) into technical drawings and blueprints. These drawings and blueprints are used to create structures, machines, or tools. In addition, AutoCAD enables the designs to be easily reworked and improved before delivering the final result. The most common drafting positions include Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Civil, and Architectural Drafters.
  • Engineering: Engineers use AutoCAD to produce designs and specifications for a wide range of items, such as car engines, elevators, bridges, highways, and even electrical grids in a city. AutoCAD enables engineers to run simulations to test how designs will perform in real-world situations. Engineering careers where AutoCAD skills are most needed include Mechanical, Electrical, Electronics, Civil, and Industrial Engineers.
  • Architecture: AutoCAD is extremely popular in the world of architecture. Architects use AutoCAD to create comprehensive floor plans and 3D renderings of structures like office buildings, residential homes, and outdoor landscapes. In addition, the software can analyze a building’s many parts and calculate the load levels of support structures.
  • Design: Similar to Architects, Interior and Industrial Designers use AutoCAD to create 2D models and 3D renderings of their design plans, using its extensive libraries and templates. Interior Designers use AutoCAD to produce detailed images of interior spaces with design ideas for color schemes, furniture placement, and more. Industrial Designers use the software to create designs for manufactured products ranging from toys to toasters to cars. Their goal is to create products that are both functional and attractive to users. AutoCAD enables designers to develop a prototype for testing its functionality and cost-effectiveness. 

In addition, the recent expansion of additive manufacturing—or 3D printing—has dramatically increased the demand for AutoCAD skills. Since 3D printing relies on the development of CAD models to guide printers, it’s driving job growth in this field across many manufacturing industries.

How to Learn AutoCAD

If your preferred learning style is taking a structured class, Noble Desktop has several options to help you find the best AutoCAD course to fit your needs. If you’re looking for courses taught in a traditional classroom, check out Noble’s class locator tool to find in-person AutoCAD classes in your area. You can also explore Noble’s many live online AutoCAD courses if you’d prefer virtual learning. Noble’s instructors are industry experts and teach in small groups, providing interactive, hands-on training.

Too busy to attend a structured live course? An on-demand AutoCAD class may be the better option for you to learn these skills. On-demand courses are self-paced, and many are free of charge or available at low cost. You can find several choices online, covering the fundamentals for beginners to more advanced AutoCAD topics for experienced users. Providers offering on-demand AutoCAD classes include Cerstaffix, Udemy, CTO, and LinkedIn Learning.

In addition to several live online and in-person AutoCAD classes, Noble also features a hub of AutoCAD tutorials, articles, and resources for you to explore.

 Read the full guide on how to learn AutoCAD.

A Brief History of AutoCAD

AutoCAD was first developed in 1982 by the multinational software corporation AutoDesk. The creation of AutoCAD completely changed the design industry by shifting the design process from microcomputers and mainframe computers over to personal computers. Before the arrival of computer-aided design (CAD), designers used pen and paper to complete their work and spent days tediously measuring lines, drawing plans, and making calculations. The emergence of AutoCAD finally allowed professionals without access to mainframe computers the ability to complete their work. 

AutoCAD has continued to progress and develop since it was first released. As a result, it has become the industry-standard in 2D and 3D software used by millions of professionals worldwide. Accessible across desktop, web, and mobile devices, AutoCAD allows you to draft, engineer, and automate designs from anywhere and collaborate seamlessly with team members. 

Comparable Applications

AutoCAD is considered the grandfather of computer-aided design. It is known as “the” software in the CAD community and the go-to product for design professionals across several industries. Although it is the most popular CAD software, it’s not the only one on the market.

SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp) is a 3D modeling-based computer application owned by Trimble, Inc. It’s best known for its ease of use and accessibility for beginners. While AutoCAD is better suited for 2D & 3D mechanical, civil, and architectural engineering designs, SketchUp is most prevalent in interior design, filmmaking, and 3D modeling. Although SketchUp performs well with high-level 3D modeling and basic rendering of objects, AutoCAD is said to have superior overall rendering ability and more customization options. 

SketchUp is known to be easier to learn than AutoCAD, and it is also less expensive. Moreover, due to its accessibility, SketchUp is very popular among hobbyists and students, while AutoCAD is a staple in the professional fields. But remember, AutoCAD has far more powerful features and tools and can perform more than its counterpart. 

Other design applications to consider learning are Adobe Illustrator, Adobe XD, and 

Adobe InDesign. While they are not the same type of software programs as AutoCAD and SketchUp, many jobs in the design fields require proficiency in these applications. Of course, it never hurts to add additional skills to your resume; the more skills you can acquire will help you stand out from the competition and increase your salary and promotion opportunities.

Learn AutoCAD with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop

Noble Desktop offers a variety of AutoCAD classes for learners at all levels. Whether you take an online course from home or attend an in-person class at Noble’s Manhattan campus, you’ll get up-to-the-minute hands-on training from leading industry experts. In addition, Noble’s courses are taught in small groups and include an optional free retake for students within a year.

Noble’s AutoCAD Level 1 course for beginners provides an overview of all the basics, like printing and plotting layouts and sheets, working between model and paper space, and scaling drawings through viewports. AutoCAD Level 2 builds upon the fundamentals and teaches you how to create more technical and advanced projects. 

Noble’s AutoCAD Bootcamp combines all topics from Levels 1 and 2 for a comprehensive overview of everything you’ll need to master the software. In addition, you’ll learn how to create drawings that you can use to build real-world objects and get valuable feedback from instructors in real time, whether you participate virtually or in-person.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in design, drafting, or engineering, you may want to consider earning an AutoCAD Professional Certification. This certification is industry-recognized and can help accelerate your career opportunities. Autodesk offers specialized AutoCAD certifications in architecture, engineering, construction, product design, and manufacturing. Noble’s AutoCAD courses are a great way to prepare for these prestigious certifications. 

Key Insights

  • AutoCAD is the most popular computer-aided design software used by millions of architects, engineers, and construction professionals worldwide. 
  • There are multiple ways to learn AutoCAD, and several virtual, in-person, and self-paced courses and tutorials are available for beginners.
  • Since its launch in 1982, Autodesk, the creator of AutoCAD, has released over 40 updated versions of the software. 
  • While other comparable computer-aided design programs are on the market, AutoCAD is known as the most powerful and is the industry-standard.

How to Learn AutoCAD

Master AutoCAD, the leading computer-aided design (CAD) application for creating drafts and technical drawings, with hands-on training.

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