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Schools for Computer Aided Drafting Courses and Programs

Computer aided drafting schools train students in the field of architectural drafting using innovative technology, principles, and techniques. Drafting schools help students learn how to prepare plans, technical drawings, and construction blueprints for buildings, structures, and mechanical designs. While drafting design often involves using hand drawn sketches and technical drawings developed manually, computer aided design is becoming a widely used alternative. With computer aided design and drafting (CADD) systems, the draftsman makes use of special software and applications to create electronic versions of each drafting design.

Job Description and Responsibilities of a Draftsman

Graduates of computer aided drafting schools are involved with many aspects of technical drawing, drafting design, and computer applications. They are commonly responsible for:

  • Working with a team of draftsmen
  • Preparing technical drawings used by production and construction workers
  • Working with specifications and technical reports for buildings, machinery, or other mechanical systems
  • Creating rough sketches for design processes
  • Using knowledge of standardized building techniques and structure
  • Learning design elements
  • Using tables, calculators, and computers to put together plans
  • Using CADD systems to prepare drawings

A traditional draftsman made use of pens, compasses, and pencils to prepare plans and drawings, but today's industry requires thorough training using CADD systems. Computer aided design schools help to train students with using a variety of programs and applications for drafting and sketching.

Career Options after Training at Computer Aided Drafting Schools

Schools prepares students with many techniques, skills, and comprehensive knowledge of drafting design. Computer aided drafting schools enable students to gain hands-on experience with software, programs, and tools that are essential for the industry. Students can choose to pursue a specialized career as a:

  • Aeronautical draftsman
  • Architectural draftsman
  • Civil draftsman
  • Electrical draftsman
  • Electronic draftsman
  • Mechanical draftsman
  • Pipeline draftsman

Aeronautical drafters are responsible for working with engineering drawings, and are commonly found in aeronautic labs and aerospace departments. Architectural drafters work with structural features of buildings in both the residential and commercial sectors. Civil drafters work with topographical and relief maps, and are often involved with many city projects and regional planning. Electrical drafters help to prepare layouts and wiring diagrams for various buildings and electrical distribution systems. Electronics drafters are involved with electronic devices, components, and circuit board assembly diagrams. Mechanical drafters are responsible for detail and assembly of various devices. Pipeline drafters work with construction layouts and chemical plants to ensure that all piping systems are designed efficiently and according to specifications.

An entry-level draftsman may work with supervisors or as an assistant until they gain knowledge and experience. Computer aided drafting design requires ongoing skills and proficiency; at an intermediate level, a draftsman can gain more experience and judgment for calculations. A senior drafter, designer, or supervisor is responsible for working in a team-based environment.

Computer Aided Drafting Training Programs

A drafting course can be taken at a technical college or vocational school, but attendance at a formal training program is preferred by most employers. Training in the field includes courses that develop skills in mechanical drawing, engineering technology, drafting applications, and communications. Strong problem-solving skills and an eye for detail are important characteristics of a successful draftsman. A basic class taken in high school can lay the foundation for further education in the field.

Drafting schools offer many specialized courses for a particular course of study. A student may choose a class that specializes in electronics, or a course that focuses on mechanical engineering instead. Selecting the right program requires learning about the career specialization of interest. Although the field of drafting design is so diverse, intensive technical training is still required; many technical institutes and 2-year programs offer general education in addition to specialized techniques and training. A program at a 2-year college offers students comprehensive training in the field, and many 4-year colleges accept this course of study as a basis for further education.

Typical courses required include:

  • AutoCAD
  • Commercial drafting
  • Structural drafting
  • 3-D CAD
  • Mechanical engineering
  • Engineering principles
  • Building design and materials
  • Architectural drafting
  • Microstation

Certification for a Draftsman

Students who are strong in mathematics, engineering, and architecture do well in drafting design schools. Prospective drafters need to have both artistic and technical abilities, along with good interpersonal skills. Certification is available through the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), and obtaining this certificate demonstrates proficiency in nationally recognized practices and standards. In order to receive certification, the candidate must pass the Drafter Certification Test. A drafting course program can help students prepare for this test as it focuses on architectural terms, standards, drawings, and geometric construction.

Drafting School Accreditation

Computer aided drafting schools are typically accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges in each state.

Earning Potential and Employment Prospects for Graduates

Drafters must break out of traditional roles to meet the demands of the industry. Job growth is expected to be slower than average for draftsmen through 2014; this is largely due to technological advances and a reduced need for manual drawings. Students who specialize in a particular field, and those that become proficient with CADD systems will have a higher chance of obtaining attractive positions in the industry. Many job openings in the field are replacing manual drafters completely; however, the majority of opportunities are available for those with at least two years of postsecondary training. The demand for mechanical, architectural, and civil drafters is expected to grow faster than other fields.

Median annual earnings for architectural and civil drafters were $39,190 and $43,000 for mechanical drafters in 2004. Related occupations include:

  • Architects

  • Commercial designers

  • Science technicians

  • Engineering technicians

  • Surveyors

  • Cartographers

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