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. Program fields may include electrical/electronic drafting, architectural drafting, and mechanical drafting, as well as drafting and design technology.
Applicants to these programs must hold a high school diploma or equivalent. 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.
In addition to computer-aided drafting, topics might include the following:
- Principles of AC & DC circuits
- 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.
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.
Students learn to use drafting tools for a variety of applications. Coursework may include the following:
- Technical math
- Drafting fundamentals
- Advanced computer-aided drafting
Salary Information and Employment Outlook
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an average 5% job growth for electrical and electronics drafters during the period from 2014-2024. The median annual salary for this type of drafter in May 2015 was $59,520, reported the BLS.
A 3% decrease in job growth was expected for architectural and civil drafters during the 2014-2024 time period, according to the BLS. Architectural and civil drafters earned a median annual salary of $50,710 in 2015.
The BLS expects employment for mechanical draftsmen during the 2014-2024 decade to decrease by 7%, due to declines in the manufacturing industry. Mechanical drafters earned a median annual salary of $53,520 in 2015.
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.
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.
Aspiring drafters can seek education through certificate programs focused on electrical, mechanical, and architectural drafting, or look into programs with broader curriculum. Graduates may also consider boosting their credentials through 2-year degree programs as well as professional certification through the American Design Drafting Association.