Certificate programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level careers. While honing their drawing skills, program participants could study fundamental drafting principles, project management, and technical illustration.
Students may receive more intensive education in a 2-year associate's-level program, which also includes general education courses. Some other areas of study include mechanical computer-aided drafting and design along with parametric modeling. After graduating, students may pursue a voluntary professional certification through the American Design Drafting Association.
Both programs stipulate students have a high school education with prerequisite coursework in math, physics, and computer applications in order to enroll. Additionally, associate's degree programs require satisfactory scores on the ACT or SAT and a placement test.
Certificate in Computer-Aided Drafting Technology
A CAD technology certificate program introduces students to computer-aided drafting and use of AutoCAD software. Certificate programs are also available for drafters who are considering specializing in a certain area, such as architecture or mechanical design. Courses focus on basic drafting principles, draft production in 2-D, mechanisms, and gears.
Most certificate programs in CAD are offered through technical schools or community colleges. Aspiring CAD technicians should also have computer skills and an aptitude for math and drawing. Certificate programs in computer-aided drafting prepare students to learn the software and technical design skills needed for entry-level CAD positions through the following courses:
- Computer-aided drafting and design
- Project management
- Technical drafting
- Technical illustration
- Architectural drafting
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Computer-Aided Drafting
An associate degree program in drafting and design technology provides more in-depth training to prepare students for either the workforce or continued education in engineering. Students may specialize in a specific area such as mechanical, electrical, construction, or surveying. Some A.A.S. coursework may be transferable to a bachelor's degree CAD program. Students may consider an associate degree program certified by the American Design Drafting Association (www.adda.org).
Students of computer-aided drafting are required to take general education coursework in writing, communications, and the social sciences. Specific classes vary according to area of specialty, but may include:
- Mechanical computer-aided drafting and design
- Geometric dimensioning and tolerancing
- Parametric modeling
- Drafting for sustainability
- Introduction to Revit
- Mechanical, electrical and plumbing drafting
Popular Career Options
When candidates have completed CAD technology training, they are prepared for drafting careers in aeronautical, mechanical, electronic, and many other fields of engineering. Specific job roles may include:
- Engineering aide
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Most drafting positions are located in the fields of architectural, civil, or mechanical engineering. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), all drafters were expected to see little or no change in employment opportunities from 2018 to 2028 at 0% growth. The BLS notes that salaries may vary according to area of specialty, but as of May 2018, the average annual salary for architectural and civil drafters was $56,700.
The American Design Drafting Association sponsors voluntary certification for drafters, including certified design drafter, certified digital designer, and certified apprentice designer designations. Numerous professional organizations sponsor workshops and seminars in order to review specific skills or software changes and updates. Bachelor's degree programs in related fields, such as the Bachelor of Science in Technology, offer concentrations or coursework in CAD technology.
Students can enroll in certificate and associate's programs in CAD technology, learning drafting and design fundamentals for different engineering purposes. Bachelor's degrees are available, as are voluntary certification and continuing education programs to help graduates stay relevant in their field.