Computer-aided design and drafting associate degree programs are typically available at 2-year technical and community colleges. Applicants require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Applicants who have completed high school courses in AutoCAD or related forms of drafting and design may enter programs with advanced standing.
Associate's Degree in Computer Aided Design and Drafting
AutoCAD is a software application for computer-aided design used by professional drafters. Courses in computer-aided design and drafting programs include several manual drafting and software-based drafting courses in addition to AutoCAD. Students also receive training in 3-D CAD, drafting, building stations, and types of drafting software. Coursework includes the following topics:
- Fundamentals of engineering drawing
- Parametric solid modeling
- Technical drafting
- Descriptive geometry for drafting
- Safety principles in engineering
- Machine tool design
Career Outlook and Salary Information
Graduates of computer-aided design and drafting associate degree programs most often work as drafters. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), architectural and civil drafters are projected 3% decrease in employment from 2014 to 2024. Mechanical drafters are projected to see a 7% decline in employment, though electrical and electronics drafters should see a 5% increase from 2014 to 2024.
Architectural and civil drafters brought in a median annual salary of $50,710 as of May 2015. Mechanical drafters earn slightly more, with a median annual salary of $53,520. Electrical and electronics drafters earn the most; their median annual salary was $59,520 that same year.
Continuing Education Information
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) oversees certification for drafting. Though rarely required for employment, certification demonstrates a drafter's expertise and commitment to international standards. The 90-minute certification exam does not require specific formal preparation and does not cover AutoCAD. However, it does cover aspects of computer-aided design and drafting. The bulk of the exam tests an individual's knowledge of drafting concepts and international drafting standards. Individuals seeking additional education may pursue bachelor's degrees in engineering or architecture.
Those looking to study AutoCAD can pursue a 2-year associate degree program. This education in design and drafting can lead to a career as a drafter, though it's important to note that the number of jobs in the field is expected to decline from 2014-2024.