Associate of Design Drafting: Degree Overview

Associate's degree programs in drafting design offer an introduction to the field of design in architecture and engineering. Get a look at how this program prepares students for careers in the field and for other education opportunities.

Essential Information

Two year associate's degree programs in drafting design provide students with the architectural and mechanical design experience necessary for technician positions, where they can assist engineers. In addition to learning traditional drafting methods, students work with industry software, like computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) programs. Some drafting design programs offer specializations in fields such as mechanical drafting, architectural drafting or surveyor drafting. Applicants must have a high school diploma or the equivalent for admission to these types of programs. High school students interested in this career path may find it helpful to take drafting courses while still in high school.

Associate's Degree in Design Drafting

Students learn through a combination of coursework, lectures and hands-on time in computer labs. Courses may vary by program, but typically include the following:

  • Computer-aided engineering
  • Product detailing
  • Tool design
  • Engineering drawing
  • Surveying and measurements
  • Technical mathematics

Popular Career Options

Graduates have the skills to pursue various areas within the design drafting field, including architectural design, mechanical parts design and project management. Common career titles include:

  • Drafter
  • CADD operator
  • Mechanical designer
  • Tool designer
  • Product drafter

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

From 2014-2024, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projected slower than average job decline of 3% for drafters in general, with a decline of 7% predicted specifically for mechanical drafters. Salaries varied among the specialty areas, with electrical and electronics drafters earning the top annual median salary of $59,520, and architectural and civil drafters earning median wages of $50,710 in May 2015, as per the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Graduates may wish to continue their education by enrolling in a 4-year bachelor's degree program in engineering technology, mechanical design or a similar topic. Schools tend to offer a variety of specializations that relate to drafting, and the training will vary based on the specific area. Additionally, drafters can obtain certification through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). Certification is a way to demonstrate proficiency and skill to potential employers. The certification exam tests applicants on their knowledge of drawings, architectural terms, geometric designs and basic drafting principles.

An Associate's Degree in Design Drafting program helps students gain experience in architectural and mechanical design. Students in the program learn about drafting methods, computer-aided design programs, and surveying to prepare them to work with engineers.

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