Associate of Computer Aided Drafting & Design (CADD): Degree Overview

An associate's degree program in computer-aided drafting and design (CADD) focuses largely on learning the foundational tools and principles for designing buildings and structures.

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Essential Information

Students in a CADD associate's program learn how to use industry-standard CADD software. They also learn how to design mechanical and electrical systems, civil structures and architectural plans. Specializations may include geospatial technology and drafting. In order to enroll in one of these two-year programs, a student must typically have a high school diploma or the equivalent.

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Associate in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design

Students commonly study topics like parametric modeling, engineering drawing, and technical graphics as they relate to the design of a variety of structures and systems (such as green energy systems and commercial architecture), as well as the materials and tools used to create them. Common courses include:

  • Technical drawing
  • 3-D modeling
  • Architectural design
  • Mechanical design
  • Computer applications
  • Metallurgy

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

An associate degree in computer-aided drafting and design program can prepare graduates for entry-level design positions in a variety of engineering and architectural fields. Some options include drafting technician, mechanical drafter, and electrical drafter.

A decline of 3% in employment opportunities was projected for drafters, according to a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report for the 2014-2024 decade. The Bureau also provided expected employment changes for other types of drafters: architectural and civil (-3%), electrical and electronics drafters (5%) and mechanical drafters (-7%). In 2015, all drafters earned a median of $52,720 per year.

Continuing Education

With an associate degree, graduates can continue their education through a bachelor's degree program or earn certification in the field. Students may have the opportunity to transfer their credits to a 4-year program and complete their bachelor's degree in two additional years. Related fields of study include product design, technology management and industrial technology.

The American Drafting Design Association (ADDA) grants professional certification to individuals who meet specific requirements related to education, experience and testing. Certification could help professionals in this field demonstrate competency to potential employers. The ADDA's 90-minute exam covers topics like object orientation, drafting standards, knowledge of symbols and geometric constructions.

Aspiring drafters who study CADD at the associate's degree level can gain the basic knowledge of engineering and technology that they need for entry-level drafting jobs. Graduates can also proceed to more advanced education at the bachelor's degree level.

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