While some programs feature a CAD specialization, others offer specializations in manufacturing or construction. Also, since most graduates of these programs find themselves being instrumental in or even owning drafting or design businesses, these programs usually have required business courses, most often emphasizing management and safety. Previous computer science coursework and a high school education are required to enter these programs. Different programs may focus on specific fields within CAD, such as industrial technology, design drafting, or technology management.
Bachelor's Degree in AutoCAD
Some schools include only drafting and design courses in an associate's degree program, while management courses are included in a bachelor's degree program. A number of voluntary certifications are available to drafting professionals who meet specific criteria and pass requisite exams. Although AutoCAD has become synonymous with computer-aided design and drafting, it's actually the brand name of one of the earliest CAD programs for personal computers; thus, students aren't likely to find a bachelor's program in AutoCAD, per se. Instead, they might choose a degree program in industrial technology, technology management, design drafting technology, or computer-aided product design. Coursework might include:
- Architectural drafting
- Civil drafting
- Geographic information systems and topographic mapping
- Mechanical drafting with CAD
- Two- and three-dimensional modeling
Many professions use the software, skills and techniques of drafting technology. These include:
- City building planner
- Plant manager
- Sound-system designer
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that in 2018, architectural and civil drafters earned an average of $56,700 per year. The BLS predicts that job opportunities for drafters will increase by 2% between 2018 and 2028.
Certification is not usually a requirement for a drafter or design technician. However, if an employer needs a tie-breaker when hiring an employee, certification can be a major gauge in comparing applicants. The American Design Drafting Association, in existence since 1948, has several professional certifications -- Certified Drafter, Certified Design Drafter, and Certified Digital Designer. In mid-2010, they were developing certification for Certified Apprentice Drafter.
CAD bachelor's degree programs teach students the skills for working with design and drafting machinery for manufacturing purposes in numerous employment fields. Graduates have the skills necessary to earn voluntary certification from the American Drafting Association.