What are the most popular design softwares in the US architecture market?

What is the best design software to master in order to gain an edge in the architecture job market? How do decision makers at top firms view design software and each kinds differing value? We compiled data from 42 different architecture firms in order to provide you with more insight into the labor market and how to be better prepared.

In order to stand out nowadays you must have certain domain over popular design softwares. To better understand what are the most prevalent and widely used software programs in the US market, we compiled data from our survey participants to provide you with a heads up, so you can be better prepared for your interview and future job positions.

This feedback covers a wide variety of companies (42 different firms) ranging from small boutique to large firms. We are always trying to provide helpful information to our community here at Architect-US.

1. AutoCAD (73.1% of Firms surveyed use)

AutoCAD, among our 42 different firms surveyed, was the most popular software used. CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. Although it was released back in 1982, it has been able to stand the test of time, and its most recent updates have provided architects and designers with the ability to create incredible renders. This would be a great place to start if you are just getting in to the field.

2. Rhino (69.2% of Firms surveyed use)

Rhino has been gaining lots of popularity and is one of the number one programs for 3D computer graphics. It provides users with the ability to very accurately create and render their design smoothly. This is another great software to start out with considering the amount of tools it provides you.

3. Photoshop (65.4% of Firms surveyed use)

Photoshop, made by Adobe, has been able to solidify its position within Design and Graphic Design circles, and it has even permeated into many other industries, so it is always a top notch tool to have in your belt.

4. Revit (63.5% of Firms surveyed use)

At an even closer third place came Revit (63.5%), which has been steadily gaining traction in the US architecture market. Yet in the European market Revit is still not as popular as other software such as AutoCAD.

5. Indesign (44.2% of Firms surveyed use)

Indesign is another Adobe made software that is a typesetting software application that is used to create posters, flyers, brochures, magazines, newspapers, presentations, books and ebooks. It is another wonderful tool that provides you with flexibility and use cases beyond just Architecture.

6. Illustrator (23.1% of Firms surveyed use)

Illustrator is a vector graphics editor and design program developed yet again by Adobe. It was first created in 1985, right as the Macintosh was starting to gain recognition and use. It allows for you to create designs and graphics that are unparalleled.

7. SketchUp (21.2% of Firms surveyed use)

SketchUp, originally released in 2000, is another 3D modeling computer program, similar to Rhino, that provides you with a wide range of drawing applications such as architectural, interior design, landscape architecture, civil and mechanical engineering.

8. V-Ray (19.2% of Firms surveyed use)

V-Ray can be used with Rhino, Revit, and SketchUP. It is a commercial plug-in for third-party 3D computer graphics software applications and is used for visualizations and computer graphics, according to their website. It provides architects and designers with even more precision and detail.

9. Bluebeam (15.4% of Firms surveyed use)

Although Bluebeam (15.4%) was quite low in usage rate, it was very popular amongst larger firms such as HOK, Handel Architects, GF55, and Gilsanz Murray Steficek.

Another factor that was made apparent from this data set is the domination that Photoshop has as the primary imaging and graphic design software, while Rhino and AutoCAD tied for most usage at over 70%! So if you have all three of these softwares mastered you are in a strong position to add to your software skills and focus on programs that may be more specific for the niche area of architecture that you would like to push your career towards. If not, a great place to start is with Photoshop and AutoCAD.

When considering your next career move, plan proactively and create Portfolios that include your best work. Consider looking into finding a mentor with Architect-USand improving your Portfolios with our Portfolio Plans and Career Advice Program. We provide coaching and personalized mentorship, so you can have a professional and experienced take on your next steps in your career, as well as a great team to confide in.



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