Associate of Computer-Aided Drafting: Degree Overview

Students in a computer-aided drafting associate's program learn to translate ideas, sketches, drawings and specifications into visual guidelines for creating products, structures or systems.

Essential Information

Computer-aided drafting may be offered in various associate's degree formats, such as an Associate in Applied Science, Associate of Science or Associate of Occupational Studies, all of which can usually be completed in two years or less. It's important to note that although computer-aided drafting (CAD) is a common term for these programs, some programs may be referred to as CADD (computer-aided design and drafting). In all of these programs, students gain hands-on training with computer software.

Admission requires a high school diploma or the equivalent. While not a requirement, completing a keyboarding course is recommended, and high school drafting courses could be useful.


Associate's Degree in Computer-Aided Drafting

In addition to traditional courses, students spend extensive lab time learning computer-aided design techniques and skills on the computer. Typical topics in a computer-aided drafting program include:

  • Technical drawing
  • 3D CAD
  • Parametric modeling
  • Tooling design
  • Statics and strength of materials

Popular Career Options

An associate's degree in computer-aided drafting program prepares individuals for various career choices with architectural and engineering firms, construction contractors and government agencies. Some possible job titles include architectural and civil drafter, mechanical designer, electrical and electronic drafter, CADD designer/drafter, and engineering technician or aide.

Job Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts the employment of drafters will decline by three percent during the 2014-2024 decade. Based on May 2015 BLS reports, architectural and civil drafters received a median annual salary of $50,710, while electrical and mechanical drafters earned median annual wages of $59,520 and $53,520, respectively.

Continuing Education Requirements

Although voluntary, certification is an option chosen by many drafters to demonstrate their knowledge of drafting procedures and practices recognized in the industry today. The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers several different certification options for drafters. To pass one of these examinations, students must demonstrate their knowledge of drawings, geometric concepts, drafting terminology and general drafting concepts.

Graduates of computer-aided drafting degree programs may start their careers after graduation or may pursue bachelor's degrees in engineering technology fields.

No matter which degree format you choose, an associate's degree in CAD or CADD can help you build the technological and drafting skills you need to enter the field or to pursue further education in a related subject.


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