AutoCAD is a brand of computer-aided drafting (CAD) software used for creating 2-dimensional (2-D) and 3-dimensional (3-D) designs. Since AutoCAD is a relatively narrow subject, it's only briefly covered in most degree programs, and it may not be discussed at all in master's degree programs. It is covered most extensively at the associate's degree level.
In Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in Computer-Aided Drafting, students learn how to create 2-D and 3-D images with AutoCAD and other software programs. Programs cover the skills relevant to mechanical, architectural and electrical drafting. Some of the coursework also covers the communication skills and terminology needed to translate engineering designs into drafts. In addition to taking lecture-based classes, students in these programs can expect to gain hands-on experience with AutoCAD and other software.
In order to apply to an associate's degree program, students need only a high school diploma or GED, but many programs suggest that students have taken prior coursework in computer science, algebra, mechanical drawing, geometry and technical writing.
Associate's Degrees in Applied Science
Classes emphasize the skills needed to make realistic and useful images for architects and engineers. Possible course topics include:
- Descriptive geometry
- Modeling solid objects
- Architectural drawing
- Residential construction drafting
- 3-D AutoCAD techniques
- Electrical and mechanical drafting
Popular Career Options
People who earn an AAS in Computer-Aided Drafting are qualified for entry-level positions in architectural, mechanical or electrical drafting. Graduates can work directly under engineers or architects, or they can work in drafting firms. Possible job titles include:
- Drafting technician
- Engineering assistant
- AutoCAD drafter
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 3% decline in employment for drafters from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). PayScale.com reported in January 2016 that AutoCAD designers and computer-aided design drafters earned median salaries of $49,215 and $41,373 respectively.
Continuing Education Information
Some drafters earn voluntary certification through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). To become certified, people need to pass the Drafter Certification Test, which covers architecture terminology, geometry and drafting techniques.
In conclusion, students who want to pursue advanced studies related to AutoCAD software can pursue an AAS in Computer-Aided Drafting.