Computer Aided Design and Drafting systems are utilized by architectural, aeronautical, civil, electrical, electronic, mechanical, and pipeline drafters when creating layouts and diagrams of various structures. You can learn the skills needed to become a CAD drafter through an associate degree or  certificate program .

High school students interested in pursuing this career path can take classes to prepare them for one of these programs, like computer graphics, math, computer technology, science, and other courses that focus on either design or drafting. Students can also earn voluntary certification from the American Design Drafting Association, which may give them a head start in the job search.

Associate Degree

Earning an associate degree in drafting prepares an individual to start work in a career as a professional drafter, one that utilizes Computer Aided Design and Drafting techniques and systems. As the name implies, these systems are mostly computer-based and let drafters input their drawings into a database or software program so that automated systems of manufacturing can access it. Using Computer Aided Design and Drafting systems and techniques also lets them prepare and execute their drawings in a highly efficient and practical fashion that’s usually faster than traditional drafting techniques.

Please note that an associate degree is not a requirement to work within this field, and that students can earn an educational certificate to get some of the skills needed to work as a drafter. However, an associate degree is specific preparation for the rigors of this career, including drafting plans for the creation of a whole range of devices, from building construction to tiny components of computers.

Drafters are responsible for drawing the finished picture of whatever product they are designing, as well as showing step-by-step drawings of how to get to the finished product, making this career extremely technical. Professional typically work closely with formal engineers, scientists, surveyors, and the like, who help them understand the tenets of design that their drawing will illustrate. However, drafters must bae able to understand many of these principles on their own, including concepts of manufacturing theory and other aspects of design that are essential for their line of work.

The programs need to obtain an associate degree in Computer Aided Design and Drafting are usually found at community colleges, junior colleges, and technical institutions. These programs generally require two years of full-time study to finish, although it can take longer for students who do not attend school full-time. Most of the coursework for these degrees focuses on the concepts of math, technology, graphics, and different aspects of computers. Students must complete general education requirements in the humanities and social sciences as well. Tuition for these types of programs vary, but students attending an in-state community college in-state can plant to spend less than $12,000 a year.

Certificate Degree Programs 

Certificate programs are also available for students looking for work as a CAD drafter. Earnning one of these certificates allows students to learn the basics of this trade without having to get an associate degree. Students can get a certificate at a technical or trade school.

Once enrolled in a certificate program, students only study courses directly related to this occupation, like electronic drafting or architectural drafting, as well as other classes focused on different concepts related to math. The big difference between a drafting associate degree and certificate program, other than the fact that the certificate program does not require general education courses, is that certificate programs often have less of concentration on drafting theory.

To be admitted to one of these programs, a student must have at least a high school diploma or GED. It varies by program, but there may be placement prerequisites. This means students must test into a specified level of math or English to be allowed to take the required classes. Tuition for these programs vary byschool, though a year of full-time classes at a community college or technical school typically costs a student less than $10,000.

Professional Certification

Professional certification is generally offered on a voluntary basis, and is an opportunity for drafters to show that they have committed themselves to learning as much as they can about their trade.

Some employers may prefer to hire candidates who have been professionally certified, or on rare occasions employers may actually require certification. The principle certifying agency for drafters is known as the American Design Drafting Association, which requires that professionals pass the Drafter Certification Test in order to become certified. Certified candidates may be eligible for higher salaries and benefits than employees who are not certified


The process of accreditation is necessary to ensure that schools are delivering high-quality education to students. Official accrediting agencies administer in-depth evaluations that often involve peer reviews and a wide host of additional procedures that help representatives determine if the school is capable of rendering academic training services. Schools that successfully adhere to the accrediting agency’s guidelines receive a public mark of approval, which makes them a more attractive choice for prospective students. Before selecting a degree program, it’s important for students to make sure the school they are interested in is accredited. This information is readily available online. The Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the United States Department of Education (USDE) both have databases on their websites that identify all of the accredited institutions in the country. Individuals can usually look up this information in a number of ways, including by school name, accrediting agency, state, country, or program type.


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