An associate's degree in computer-aided drafting (CAD) may be available as an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Computer-Aided Drafting, or an AAS in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design. Students in these two-year programs have the opportunity to learn about topics like architectural design, mechanical design and more. Students may be required to complete a capstone course before graduating from the program. Individuals must have a high school diploma to enter an associate's degree program.
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Associate's Degree in Computer- Aided Drafting
To obtain a degree in computer-aided drafting, students must complete 66 to 68 credits worth of coursework. They can expect to take courses that will prepare them for producing architectural, engineering and drafting materials for use in structural engineering and design. Students also learn about the systems inside buildings, like electrical and plumbing systems or heating systems, as well as the structures. Common courses include:
- Civil drafting
- Residential construction
- Drafting standards
- Commercial construction
- Building design
- Electrical and mechanical systems
An individual who obtains a degree in computer-aided drafting can be prepared to enter the field of drafting, engineering or structural design. Common career positions include:
- Electrical drafter
- Mechanical drafter
- Computer-aided design technician
- Architectural drafter
Continuing Education and Professional Certification
Graduates of associate's degree programs in computer-aided design can apply their knowledge to a bachelor's degree program in engineering and technology management or CAD technology and technology management. The American Drafting Design Association (ADDA) offers professional drafting certification for applicants who pass a 90-minute, multiple-choice test covering design concepts, drafting standards and construction analysis (www.adda.org). The certification is valid for five years; upon expiration, association members and non-members alike must show proof of work experience. Non-members also pay a fee to reinstate certification.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
From 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects there to be a 3% decline in jobs for drafters. Employment for mechanical drafters, in particular, is projected to decline by 7%. Median salaries for drafters in 2015 varied by specialty and ranged from about $49,650 to approximately $59,520, the BLS reported.
Aspiring drafters need both technological skills and architectural expertise; associate's degree programs in computer-aided drafting provide both.