In addition to coursework in architectural drafting technology, certificate and associate's degree programs in the field may require students to gain on-site work experience through internships with area companies. In total, these programs take 1 to 2 years of study to complete. Graduates should be prepared for entry-level or junior drafting positions in industries such as construction, machinery or electronics.
Certificate in Architectural Drafting Technology
Certificate programs offer training in architectural drafting technology as well as areas of engineering technology. Most schools recommend applicants have a background in math, drawing, science and engineering. Students must typically be at least 18 years old and provide proof of a high-school diploma or its equivalent.
These programs focus on residential and civil drafting design, materials, codes, theory and methodology. Most emphasize training in Computer-Assisted Drafting (CAD). The coursework can award college credit towards a degree and/or a certificate of completion. Courses include:
- Architectural design fundamentals
- Architectural history
- Construction materials
- Structural and architectural drafting
- Drafting methods in architectural technology
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Associate's Degree in Architectural Drafting Technology
Associate's degree programs in architectural drafting technology include some of the topics covered in certificate programs. Applicants must submit high school transcripts, along with transcripts from any previous college coursework. An assessment process may be required before entering, including placement testing in math, reading, writing and computer skills.
The programs can take approximately two years to complete, and graduates are generally awarded an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. Students can usually transfer their course credits into a bachelor's degree program at qualified universities and colleges.
General education courses in English composition, advanced math subjects, science and social science are typically required. Technical coursework in the architectural drafting specialty is also emphasized. Classes include:
- College algebra, trigonometry and calculus
- Structural and architectural commercial drafting
- Technical math and software applications
- Physics and biology
A certificate in architectural drafting technology can qualify students for various entry-level positions in the industry. Some choices are:
- Junior drafter
- CAD specialist
- Architectural design assistant
- Engineer's assistant
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architectural and civil drafters earned a median annual wage of $50,710 in May of 2015, and the highest level of employment was in the architectural, engineering and related services industry (www.bls.gov). The BLS also states that employment for this type of drafter is expected to decline by 3% from 2014 to 2024. Drafters who know how to use the most current drafting software will have the best job opportunities.
Continuing Education and Certification
Many credits from an architectural drafting technology certificate and associate's degree program are transferable to a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree program with a technology concentration. Students are advised to consult with their chosen four-year college or university to develop a transfer plan.
The American Design and Drafting Association (ADDA) offers a variety of certification options for drafters, such as the Certified Apprentice Drafter, Certified Design Drafter and Certified Digital Designer certifications (www.adda.org). To become certified, individuals must pass the ADDA examinations that are held at various test sites throughout the United States.
To gain the technical skills needed for architectural drafting careers, undergraduates can pursue either a certificate or an associate's degree in the field. Associate's degree programs also offer general education courses alongside technological and scientific training.