As a GIS Professional, one is often expected to have experience with CAD (i.e. AutoCAD, Microstation) to the extent that they can integrate CAD data into GIS workflows and datasets. However, I often see job postings in which employers are looking for candidates that have experience actually using CAD software such as AutoCAD. I would expect that drafting would be left to people with architectural and engineering backgrounds.

In people's experience, what are employers actually expecting from GIS professionals with regard to CAD experience using CAD-specific software?

closed as primarily opinion-based by PolyGeo Oct 28 '15 at 13:58

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


This is a loaded question. You can do a great deal more with map capable versions of AutoCAD than just drafting related activities. Really there are too many possible functions to discuss; especially in reference to the AutoCAD Civil 3D environment. In many cases, a client will have CAD drawings that serve as a starting point in a broader project, or from which you need to extract/incorporate data. I have encountered this many times in my career. If you want to learn AutoCAD Map 3D, I suggest you download a FREE TRIAL and start doing TUTORIALS in your spare time. You get all sorts of hits from a Google Search.

You can find out a little more about this softwares capabilities HERE. AutoCAD Civil 3D has even greater funtionality, and you can read up on it and/or get a free trial download HERE.


As a person with this background I can talk directly to that topic. What employers are often looking for is people that have production linework experience; or the ability to do solid and consistent data creation work. CAD is often a lot less subjective; whereas GIS with is background in Enviro/Planning arenas has less of a rigid expectation.

CAD shops often have a regimented workflow and process where you have expectations of QA/QC and performance and a deeper understanding of the tools and data.


You can also look into the AutoCAD university. Free one year edu license and all the tutorials you can stand.

That being said, I am on the other side of the fence and use GIS in Public Works. Engineerinfirms give us spatially correct surveys, plats, etc., and I add the tabular data that goes with it. Understanding the concept s of both are key. How they are similar and such. However you cannot compare the two because they are not apples to apples, more like oranges and nectarines.


I am in the GIS department of a civil engineering project and when I was hired, the job specification stated that CAD experience was ideal but not essential. I was hired even though I had no experience of CAD and have subsequently been given some cursory training in Civil 3D. In a project of this scale the requirement for the GIS staff to 'know CAD' is limited to having an understanding of the data structures and file formats so that when we are given drawings from the engineers we can convert them into GIS formats and deploy them into our web GIS and supply them to other departments who have basic GIS requirements.

So all of my 'CAD work' consists of inspecting data and converting it to other formats, typically using FME. Therefore in my experience, if you know your way around GIS, you can get to the level of CAD experience required relatively quickly.

  • I am in a similar situation, so the only dealings I have with CAD is bringing the drawings into ArcMap and projecting them. Sometimes I have to use them as a point of reference when digitising, but that's about it. – Cindy Jayakumar Oct 5 '12 at 5:31

Hypes, waves, and fashion.

The order of today ... is ... I guess it depends what your domain is. I am a programmer, by coincidence I have some CAD background, but it is not my area of expertise.

Dont worry what the job market is ... what is important is if you are in a niche. See where your interests are, what are your strengths, and put your resume out. Let the recruiters worry about what niche to match with which person.

  • GIS in the in civil engineering, city works - yes cad
  • Data Processing - GIS tools (Mapinfo and others
  • Programatic - Oracle Spatial, Java Mapxtreme, ...

As always, three ways to develop your skills:

  • pick up a course
  • you are strongly self motivated in the field, and naturally you will pick up certain subjects and learn.
  • At the job.
  • -1 - While this answer gives lip service to how to develop CAD skills, it is mostly a glib and flippant response to what is a relevant question in the context of the GIS profession. CAD skills can be extremely useful for a GIS professional. This site depends on answers that are focused, detailed and respectful of the questions being asked. – Get Spatial Oct 18 '12 at 21:11
  • 1
    Flippant and glib - but it is my cherished opinion. Not all GIS jobs need CAD skills. One trend I see is that there is a stronger need for data analytics using GIS. I am telling everyone willing to hear, the future is for those that know how to leverage data analytics. Corporations and Big Enterprises have shelves of old data they want to leverage using new methods, and are full of Buzz of Big Data and Data Analytics. A sample Business Question: can I save fuel by moving around some of my distribution points? Can I reach more customers? – YoYo Nov 16 '13 at 8:46

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