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Computer Aided Drafting

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Computer aided design and drafting systems are used by architectural, aeronautical, civil, electrical, electronic, mechanical, and pipeline drafters to create layouts and diagrams of various structures. Courses in CAD and CADD are usually taught as part of an architectural or engineering program at an accredited institution. Certification for drafters by the American Design Drafting Association is voluntary, but may aid applicants in appearing credible to employers. Employment for drafters is expected to increase by six percent by the year 2016.

Online Colleges Offering CAD/Computer Aided Drafting Degrees:

CAD Topics

Certificate Programs

Those looking to pursue certificates in CAD have a couple of different options. It is possible for students to earn educational certificates that widely qualify them to work in CAD drafting. Once they are engaged in this line of work, it is then possible for them to earn professional certification as well.

Educational Certification

There are several programs that yield a certificate for students interested in working as a CAD drafter. In fact, earning one of these certificates enables students to learn the essentials of this trade without having to earn an associate’s degree. It is a fact that most employers prefer students to have some form of formal postsecondary training in the field. 

Students may earn a certificate at a technical or trade school that allows them to get this fundamental knowledge. If students are looking to pursue this avenue, it's important for them to begin studies that are germane to this profession in high school. Several high school courses relate to this discipline, such as computer graphics, math, computer technology, science, and various classes that have to do with either design or drafting.

Once enrolled in a certificate program in a technical school, students will only study courses that are directly related to this occupation, such as electronic drafting or architectural drafting, as well as other classes centered around different concepts related to math. 

Students should also be aware of the fact that since their two primary options for obtaining formalized postsecondary education in drafting typically consists of earning either an associate’s degree or a certificate, that one of the central differences between these two avenues is that the latter offers significantly less focus in drafting theory than the former does, although both options can help students to work within this profession (Bureau of Labor Statistics).

Professional Certification

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

Some employers may simply prefer to hire candidates who have been professionally certified, whereas on rare occasions employers may actually require certification. The principle certifying agency for drafters is known as the American Design Drafting Association, which necessitates 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 (BLS).

Associate's Degrees

The earning of an associate’s degree in drafting adequately prepares students to embark on careers as professional drafters, specifically one that utilizes Computer Aided Design and Drafting techniques and systems. These systems, as the name implies, are largely computer based and allow for drafters to input their drawings into a database or software program so that it may be accessed by automated systems of manufacturing. Utilizing Computer Aided Design and Drafting systems and techniques also allows for individuals to prepare and implement their drawings in a highly efficient and expedient fashion that's often faster than traditional drafting techniques. It should be noted that an associate’s degree is not absolutely required to work within this profession, and that it is possible for students to earn an educational certificate and get some of the skills necessary to work as a drafter. An associate’s degree, however, is guaranteed preparation for the many rigors of this career, some of which include the drafting of plans for the creation of a whole host of devices, from building construction to tiny components of computers.

This career is highly technical, as drafters are responsible for not only drawing the finished picture of whatever product is that they’re designing, but they are also charged with showing step-by-step depictions of how to get to the finished product. These laborers oftentimes work in close correlation with formal engineers, scientists, surveyors and the like, who help them to understand the principles of design that their drawing will illustrate. However, it is also required for drafters to understand many of these principles on their own, such as concepts of manufacturing theory and various other aspects of design that are essential for their line of work (BLS).

Coursework

Most programs that result in an associate’s degree in Computer Aided Design Drafting are typically offered at community colleges, junior colleges, and technical institutions. Most oftentimes, these programs require two years’ worth of fulltime study to finish, although it may take longer for students who do not attend these programs fulltime. The majority of the coursework for these degrees revolves around concepts of math, technology, graphics and various aspects of computers. However, students should know there is also a liberal arts aspect of associate degrees, meaning that they’ll also be taking subjects such as language arts that may not appear to be vital to a career as a Computer Aided Design and Drafting employee (BLS).   

How to Ensure Your CAD Program is Properly Accredited

The process of accreditation is strenuous but necessary to ensure that schools are delivering high-quality education to deserving students. Official accrediting agencies administer in-depth evaluations to often involve peer reviews and a wide host of additional procedures that help representatives determine if the applicants are capable of rendering academic training services. Schools that successfully adhere to authoritative guidelines receive a public mark of approval, which makes them a more attractive choice for prospective students. 

Beware of Diploma Mills

Institutions that aren't accredited are commonly referred to as diploma mills. Degrees from these kinds of schools don't hold any weight in the workforces since no reputable agency has validated their competency. Diploma mills are known to make fraudulent claims, have deceptively similar name to legitimately recognized schools, and contain no physical mailing address. They're also known to use elaborate verbiage on their website in an effort to rush students into signing up for enrollment before tuition increases. 

Finding Out if Your School is Accredited

Before you select a degree program, it's important to ensure that your prospective school is genuinely accredited. Keep in mind that it's fairly easy to find this sort of information. 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, accreditor, state, country, or program type. 

Accreditation Myths

1. Non-accredited Schools Cost Less

Some people assume that non-accredited schools are more affordable than accredited institutions. However, this isn't the case. It's important to remember that the motivation for most diploma mills is making a profit. Many of these kinds of schools drive up the cost of tuition in order to stay in operation. Unfortunately, students at the institutions don't get the quality education they paid for. 

2. All Accreditation is the Same

There's different kinds of accreditation. Two major distinct forms are regional and national accreditation, the former being more institution-base and the latter being more career-based. Regionally accredited schools are more lenient on transferring credits and tend to focus on providing education in a variety of areas. Nationally accredited schools, on the other hand, tend to offer vocational programs. 

3. Employers Don't Care about Accreditation

Accreditation is a big deal to most employers. Companies find degrees from unaccredited schools unacceptable which is why it's crucial to avoid diploma mills and obtain credentials from a publicly approved institution. 

Sources

Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). (2012). 

United States Department of Education (USDE) . (2012). 

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement by the school of this site.

This website also offers school data. With the exception of the recommend rate percentage (which is the average based on the student reviews submitted to our partner site GradReports), all of the data was collected in 2011-2012 from the National Center for Education Statistics or from an official representative of the school. Salaries and job growth were collected in 2011-2012 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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