Draftsman Certification and Certificate Programs Overview

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.

Essential Information

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.

  • Draftsmen Program Fields: Electrical/electronic drafting, architectural drafting, mechanical drafting, drafting and design technology
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED
  • Program Length: One year or less

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.

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 circuits
  • Circuitry
  • Electrical systems in buildings
  • Construction drawing

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.

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

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 for admission.

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

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. Program applicants will need a high school diploma or equivalent.

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

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an average 10% job growth for electrical and electronics drafters during the period from 2012-2022. The median annual salary for this type of drafter in May 2014 was $58,790, reported the BLS.

A 1% job growth was expected for architectural and civil drafters, but construction projects will create demand for this field during the 2012-2022 time period, according to the BLS. Architectural and civil drafters earned a median annual salary of $49,970 in 2014.

The BLS expects employment for mechanical draftsmen during the 2012-2022 decade to decrease by 5%, due to declines in the manufacturing industry. Mechanical drafters earned a median annual salary of $52,200 in 2014.

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.

Continuing Education

Those with certificates in 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.

Additionally, architectural and mechanical draftsmen can become certified drafters through the American Design Drafting Association after passing the Architectural Certified Drafter exam or the Mechanical Certified Drafter exam.

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