Some schools offer certificate programs specifically in AutoCAD, while others may cover the software in broader drafting or computer-aided design certificate programs. AutoCAD is often part of associate's programs in drafting and computer-aided design as well. In all of these programs, students learn the basics of using this software through hands-on work and traditional lecture-style courses.
While other programs provide AutoCAD training as part of a broader certificate program, these programs prepare students for Autodesk's professional certification exam. Students learn to use AutoCAD software to create 2- and 3-dimensional drawings for use by architects and engineers. Topics might include:
- Drawing with AutoCAD
- 3-dimensional modeling
- Modification and productivity tools
Associate's Degree in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design
Programs including AutoCAD instruction are often offered as computer-aided drafting and design or drafting technology programs. These 2-year programs not only train students in the use of AutoCAD software, but also cover other concepts related to drafting while touching on architectural and engineering principles. The coursework covers use of AutoCAD software, along with courses in areas such as civil, mechanical, electrical or architectural design. Coursework might cover:
- Engineering graphics
- Blueprint reading
- Architectural drawing
- Construction drawing
Certification and Continuing Education
Autodesk, Inc. provides a professional designation as a Certified Associate or Certified Professional in several of its software products, including AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture and AutoCAD Civil 3D. Applicants must pass an exam to become certified. While a certificate-level instructional program in AutoCAD might be sufficient for many entry-level drafting positions, students may consider pursing a degree program to further enhance their skills.
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Drafters are expected to see a 3% decline in jobs over the 2014-2024 decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Median annual wages varied by specialty. In 2015, architectural and civil drafters earned a median salary of $50,710 annually, mechanical drafters earned $53,520 and electrical drafters earned $59,520.
Students interested in exploring AutoCAD drafting may choose between an AutoCAD certificate programs, or an associate's degree in drafting and design. However, graduates of these programs may find stiff competition for work. The job outlook for drafters is below average with an expected 3% decline between 2014-2024.