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Associate in CAD and Architectural Drafting: Degree Overview

An associate degree program in CAD (computer-aided design) and architectural drafting provides students with the software and blueprint reading skills necessary for many positions in drafting.

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Essential Information

An associate degree program in CAD and architectural drafting teaches students to use AutoCAD, a popular CAD application. Students pursuing this degree may choose from Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Science (AS) or Associate of Occupational Science (AOS) degree programs. The AOS and AAS programs typically prepare aspiring drafters for immediate employment after graduation, while the AS is often ideal for individuals wishing to transfer to 4-year colleges or universities.

As part of a required capstone course, students must submit a final project designed using CAD and drafting application software. Most programs take two years to complete. Applicants must hold a high school diploma or the equivalent.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Architectural Drafting and Design
  • CAD Drafting and Design Technology
  • Civil Engineering Drafting and Design
  • Mechanical Drafting and Design

Associate's Degree in CAD and Architectural Drawing

Core courses not only address subjects like drawing, calculus and construction, but also teach students how to use drafting software programs. Students become skillful at creating 2D and 3D designs used in the architectural field and learn blueprint reading and advanced drafting techniques. This program usually requires completion of the following courses:

  • Architectural drawing
  • CADD
  • General construction
  • Precalculus
  • Engineering drawings
  • Mechanics

Popular Career Options

CAD is used in many industries today, including engineering, manufacturing, electronics and even fashion design. Whether they choose to work immediately upon graduating or go on to further study, graduates of CAD and architectural drafting programs have many career options. Some career choices include:

  • CADD designer/drafter
  • Architectural drafter
  • Mechanical drafter
  • Draftsman
  • Detailer
  • Contractor

Job Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of architectural and civil drafters is projected to decrease by 3% between 2014 and 2024. Employment of mechanical drafters is expected to decline by 7% during that same time. As of May 2015, architectural and civil drafters earned an average salary of $53,470, and mechanical drafters earned $56,610, per the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Although drafters are not required to be certified for employment, certification demonstrates an individual's knowledge of the procedures and an understanding of the drafting practices used in the industry today. The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers various types of certification for drafters. The certification examination tests students' knowledge of drawings, geometric concepts, drafting terminology and general drafting concepts.

Graduates of CAD and architectural drafting degree programs may start their careers after graduation or may pursue bachelor's degrees, which offer different options. They may transfer to a 4-year college to pursue an engineering technology degree. Alternatively, they may also enter a technical or industrial bachelor's degree program to study to become a public school teacher.

Earning an associate degree in CAD and architectural drafting can open doors to entry-level employment in a wide range of industries because students finish these programs with a strong understanding of drafting software and construction methods. Graduates are also ready for further study in many different subjects.

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