Essential considerations for online drafting programs are program formats offered, key topics covered (such as CADD), and the technology and tools required to successfully complete coursework online. Programs are typically available at the certificate and associate's degree levels.
How to Select an Online Drafting School
Drafters work in a variety of fields, from interior design to construction and architecture. Students interested in pursuing a career in drafting should consider the program type, award level and technical requirements for each program, as well as their own career objectives and skills before enrolling.
Students must consider the industry they would like to enter as well as the level of study desired when choosing an online drafting program. Online certificate and diploma programs offer basic training that can help successful graduates obtain entry-level positions as drafters. An associate's degree provides a more thorough education.
Online programs can be offered in fully online or hybrid formats. Fully online programs require no campus attendance and all classes are completed from home. These may follow certain class schedules or be entirely self-paced. Hybrid or low-residency programs feature a mix of online classes and on-campus work. The in-person classes often involve labs or other hands-on experiences that would be difficult to replicate at a distance. Both types of programs can include internships that must be completed in-person.
Drafters must be able to draw highly detailed designs accurately and to scale. Many drafters today make use of computer-aided drafting design (CADD), and thus many school programs focus on this form of drafting. However, online drafting classes can also cover the use of traditional drafting tools.
In order to participate in online programs, students need a computer with access to the Internet and a modern web browser. Students may be required to purchase CADD software or drafting tools. Some basic technical fluency may be needed to complete and submit online assignments and work with the CADD software.
List of Popular Online Drafting Programs
Online Certificate in Drafting
Professional online schools offer certificate programs aimed at students looking to gain working knowledge of computer-aided drafting programs. Through a variety of online lectures, diagrams and video demonstrations, students learn to use both traditional and computer-based drafting solutions. In order to prove competency in the field and graduate from the program, students will be asked to submit projects and score well on tests and quizzes. Courses cover such topics as:
- Manufacturing processes
- Print reading for CADD design
Online Associate's Degree in Drafting and Design Technology
An associate's degree in drafting expands on the coursework in a certificate program with more in-depth study of drafting techniques, as well as general education courses. Common topics include:
- Advanced CAD
- 3D drafting
- Building information modeling
- Sustainable design
Schools with Online Programs in Drafting
Minnesota State College Southeast offers an online CAD drafting program. To prepare for this degree, some recommended high school level courses include mathematics such as algebra or trigonometry, as well as composition and computer and technical skills. Once enrolled, the program includes support in finding an internship for hands-on experience.
The Academy of Art University has several online degree programs in interior architecture and design and industrial design. Programs are offered at the associate's, bachelor's, and master's degree levels. Online courses for the programs encompass digital imaging and modeling.
Rigorous online drafting programs should include use of digital imaging technology, most notably CADD. Many design programs include training in this technology, but focus on a specific type of design, such as architecture, interior design, or industrial design.