Learn Drafting: Overview of Drafting College Education Programs

Students interested in a drafting career might pursue an associate's degree in computer-aided drafting and design (CAD) technology. Additionally, they might choose to pursue an associate's degree in a drafting specialty.

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Essential Information

In drafting programs, students gain fundamental knowledge of drafting theory and hands-on technical skills. Graduates are prepared for entry-level employment as drafters or for further education in bachelor's programs. Most of these programs are offered through community colleges or vocational/technical schools. A high school diploma or equivalent will be required.

In addition to a computer-aided drafting and design degree, other drafting specialties include architectural, mechanical or electrical drafting. Programs typically last two years. Online courses and programs are available.

Associate's Degree in Computer-Aided Drafting and Design Technology

Associate's degree programs in computer-aided drafting and design technology provide students with the basic technical skills needed to use CAD software. A broad overview of the various applications of this technology will be provided.

Associate's degree candidates learn drafting fundamentals and get an overview of various drafting applications. Course topics might include:

  • Architectural drafting
  • Structural drafting
  • Geometric dimensioning
  • Intro to CAD software

Associate's Degree in Architectural Drafting

Architectural drafting associate's degree programs focus on the skills and concepts used by drafters in architecture and architectural engineering firms. Students learn to use CAD software to draw architectural and structural features of buildings.

Architectural drafting curricula feature a combination of architectural coursework and design and drafting skills. Courses might include:

  • Intro to architecture
  • Architectural theory
  • CAD design for architecture
  • Architectural graphics

Associate's Degree in Mechanical Drafting

Mechanical drafting programs prepare students for careers producing drawings of mechanical parts and components of mechanical systems. Students learn to use CAD software and gain a basic understanding of mechanical design and engineering.

Mechanical drafting programs include coursework in CAD technology, as well as industrial and manufacturing concepts. Topics of study generally include:

  • Machine fundamentals
  • Modeling and rendering
  • Drafting standards
  • Mechanical CAD

Associate's Degree in Electrical Drafting

Students in electrical or electronics drafting programs learn to use CAD software to create drawings for use by electrical and computer engineers. Associate's degree graduates are prepared for drafting and CAD operator positions with electrical engineering-related firms.

Associate's degree programs in electrical drafting cover CAD technology and concepts related to electronics, electrical theory and computers. Coursework might include:

  • Electricity principles
  • Instrumentation drafting
  • CAD for electronics
  • Process technology

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The development of computer automated drafting software may limit the job growth potential for some drafters. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that in the 2014-2024 decade, architectural and civil drafting jobs are expected to see only a negative 3% decline. Mechanical drafting jobs will decline by 7%, but electronics drafting jobs should grow by 5%.

The median annual salary for architectural and civil drafters in May 2015 was $50,710 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). At the same time, the median earnings of mechanical drafters was $53,520 and for electrical and electronic drafters, the figure was $59,520.

Popular Career Options

An associate's degree in a drafting field design is applicable to a variety of engineering industries. Graduates might find employment at mechanical, civil, electrical or structural engineering firms. Job titles typically include:

  • Drafter
  • Detailer
  • CAD operator
  • Engineering assistant

Drafting education programs include associate's degrees in computer-aided drafting (CAD), architectural drafting, and mechanical drafting. Courses will cover CAD software, architectural theory, and electricity principles.

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