Draftsman Certification and Certificate Programs Overview

Learn about certificate programs for the aspiring draftsman. Read on for program coursework, employment outlook statistics and continuing education options for drafters.

Essential Information

Certificate programs for draftsmen are offered at community and technical colleges, and they're available in electrical, mechanical or architectural drafting. Certificate programs in drafting and design technology are also available, and these programs focus more broadly on the entire field, rather than a specialty.

Nearly all drafting programs lean heavily on the development of math and computer-aided drawing (CAD) skills. Students participate in both lecture-intensive classes and hands-on learning sessions. Most programs take roughly one year or less to complete, and graduates may be prepared for professional certification through the American Design Drafting Association. Credits earned in a certificate program may transfer into an associate's program.


Certificate Programs in Electrical or Electronic Drafting

Certificate programs in electrical or electronic drafting draw from the fields of electronics and mechanical technology. Students might gain knowledge that is applicable to the construction or electrical systems industries. Students are required to hold high school diplomas or the equivalent for admission.

Program Coursework

Certificate programs can usually be completed in under one year. In addition to computer-aided drafting, topics might include the following:

  • Principles of AC & DC
  • Circuitry
  • Electrical systems in buildings
  • Construction drawing

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts only 5% job growth for electrical and electronics drafters during the period from 2010-2020, continued demand for draftsman positions may come from engineering and drafting services firms that are charged with resolving increasingly complex design problems in new product manufacturing. The median annual salary for this type of drafter in May 2012 was $55,700, reported the BLS.

Continuing Education

Those with certificates in electrical or electronics drafting might consider completing 2-year degree programs in order to increase job prospects. The BLS reported that those with degrees and strong CAD experience may have better job opportunities.

Architectural Drafting Certificate Programs

Architectural drafting is a common drafting specialization that focuses on the skills needed for work at architectural design firms. Students study traditional drafting skills and architectural principles. A high school diploma or the equivalent is required for admission.

Program Coursework

Programs in architectural drafting focus heavily on CAD technologies and skills. Coursework might also include the following:

  • Construction graphics
  • Architectural detailing
  • Building materials
  • Structural drafting

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Job growth was expected to be slower than average for architectural drafters, but construction projects will create demand for this field during the 2010-2020 time period, according to the BLS. Architectural and civil drafters earned a median annual salary of $47,870 in 2012.

Certification and Continuing Education

Individuals might consider pursing 2-year, associate's degrees in order to increase job prospects. Additionally, architectural draftsmen can become certified drafters through the American Design Drafting Association by passing the Architectural Certified Drafter exam.

Mechanical Drafting Certificate Programs

Mechanical drafting certificate programs prepare students for draftsman careers creating designs for machinery and mechanical devices. Students receive a foundation in manufacturing processes and industrial materials, as well as drafting techniques. Graduates are well suited for jobs with manufacturing companies. A high school diploma or equivalent is required.

Program Coursework

Like other drafting programs, a strong emphasis is placed on CAD skills. Programs typically include opportunities to work hands-on with drafting equipment. Study topics include the following:

  • Industrial drafting
  • Mechanical design drafting
  • Engineering graphics
  • Technical math

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

The BLS expects employment growth for mechanical draftsmen during the 2010-2020 time period to be around 11%. Engineering and drafting services firms will continue to seek mechanical drafters who are able to resolve complex design problems in new product manufacturing. Mechanical drafters earned a median annual salary of $50,360 in 2012.

Certification and Continuing Education

The American Design Drafting Association also offers a certification for mechanical drafters who pass the Mechanical Certified Drafter exam. Like other drafting occupations, a 2-year degree and certification may help increase job prospects.

Certificate Programs in Drafting and Design Technology

Certificate programs in drafting and design technology teach drafting skills and concepts without focusing on one specific area (such as architectural or mechanical drafting). Programs tend to focus strongly on computer-aided design. A high school diploma or equivalent is required.

Program Coursework

Students learn to use drafting tools for a variety of applications. Coursework may include the following:

  • Technical math
  • Drafting fundamentals
  • AutoCAD
  • Advanced computer-aided drafting

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

Individuals with certificates in drafting and design technology might find employment across a variety of industries, including those discussed above. Other employment opportunities might be available in areas such as aeronautical drafting, civil drafting or pipeline drafting.

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