Students enrolled in online architectural drafting courses learn how to draft plans for commercial and residential structures. Courses provide training in the software programs standard in the architecture industry, along with technical construction knowledge. Online architectural drafting diplomas typically take one year to complete, and associate's degrees take two years. While diploma programs focus on the technical skills required for architectural drafting, associate's degree programs include general education classes in writing, oral communication, business, mathematics and science.
Distance learning architectural drafting courses may be offered in an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete class and lab work at their pace. Online programs are usually delivered via course management systems, including instruction, assignments and all correspondence between teacher and student. Supplementary learning aids include textbooks and CD-ROMs. Students will likely be required to have AutoCAD or similar software to complete projects and assignments.
Associate's Degree in Drafting and Design Technology
Students looking to pursue an associate's degree can opt for a program in drafting and design technology, which is offered online. These programs stress the development of fundamental skills used in basic design and CAD (computer-aided drafting) careers. Students analyze both the theoretical and practical applications of the field, with intensive study and laboratory projects being essential parts of the program.
Information and Requirements
As with most associate's degrees, admissions requirements are not strict, meaning students do not need prior experience to gain entry. A high school diploma will suffice, although excellent grades and strong standardized test scores will help a candidate's application.
A typical program's curriculum includes courses in the following:
- Engineering drawing
- Design positions
- Charts, forms, and records
Students who do not wish to commit to the multi-year process of acquiring an associate's degree can instead choose to pursue a diploma in AutoCAD. Designed for aspiring professionals, these programs prepare students to sit for certification exams.
Information and Requirements
Prerequisites are few for these programs as well; a high school diploma is the standard prerequisite and students do not need prior work experience, although a professional interest in the field is certainly recommended. Some online programs have no prerequisites whatsoever.
AutoCAD certificate programs generally include courses in the following subjects:
- Layers & colors
- Isometric drawing
- 3D modeling
Graduates of online architectural drafting diploma and associate's degree programs can become CAD drafters, structural drafters or Auto-CAD professionals. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that jobs related to the construction industry will likely decline during times of economic hardship. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of job opportunities for architectural and civil drafters is expected to decrease 3% between 2014 and 2024. The median salary among these professionals was $50,710 as of May 2015.
Both diplomas and associate's degrees in architectural drafting are offered online. Diploma programs take less time to complete and can prepare students for certification exams, while associate's degree programs are a bit more robust and include more general education courses.