Best Online Computer Aided Drafting Programs

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Drafting professionals build detailed assembly and layout plans for architects and engineers. Their work is used to map out everything from machine parts and small appliances to aircraft systems and full-scale buildings. The job requires a diverse skill set concentrated in areas of math, physics, engineering, art and computer design.

Most online drafting degree programs require a two-year commitment. Students enroll in courses like architectural planning and web design, as well as requisite math and science subjects. They also learn a variety of conceptualization techniques, such as sketching, 2D and 3D modeling, and software-based graphic design. Some programs are fully online, while others include on-site labs and/or practicum components that require on-campus visits.

Below, you’ll find our list of the country’s best online drafting degree programs. Each school is ranked according to its academic strengths, learning goals, positive student outcomes, course offerings and online classroom experience. If drafting is a field that interests you, then out comprehensive list will serve as a useful resource in your search for a suitable online program.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description
1

West Kentucky Community and Technical College

 1/536.76%Paducah, KY

campus-west-kentucky-community-and-technical-college

West Kentucky Community and Technical College's computer aided drafting and design degree is a concentration within the school’s science-oriented subjects in applied technologies. Distance learners will study two- and three-dimensional modeling, mechanics, production, and manufacturing of these models. The online drafting program also teaches students to solve basic design problems using traditional forms of graphic communication, including lettering, drawing and geometric construction. Program curriculum incorporates newly developed rapid prototyping technology, which prepares students to produce material prototypes from a CAD software model.

West Kentucky requires students in the computer aided drafting and design program to complete a total of 45 credit hours in technical and general education, including a practicum and cooperative experience. Distance learners in this program must also maintain at least a “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course and a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 to progress each term. Courses are offered online through Blackboard and are available during two 16-week semester terms each academic year; August through December and January through May.

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2

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Memphis

 1/570.35%Memphis, TN

campus_tennessee_college_of_applied_technology_memphis

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Memphis offers a CAD technician certificate for professionals practicing computer aided drafting and design in the industry. This certificate program requires completion of intensive courses in introductory and intermediate CAD and solid modeling/visualization. Distance learners earning this certificate must also complete a six-credit online TCAT orientation course, designed to familiarize students with the school’s immersive online learning environment. Graduates of this program walk away with an understanding of professional terminology and tools used in CAD, CAE, CAM and SolidWorks software applications, as well as conventional drafting and modeling skills.

TCAT CAD tech certificate students must complete a total of 356 clock hours in four primary subject areas. Distance learners in this program may enroll during summer, fall or spring semesters. Courses are offered asynchronously through Desire2Learn. Generally, students are able to complete certificate programs at TCAT in one to two trimesters.

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3

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Shelbyville

 2/574.62%Shelbyville, TN

campus_tennessee_college_of_applied_technology_shelbyville

Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers a CAD technician certificate through its Shelbyville campus, ideal for practicing professionals looking to acquire CAD skills for additional industry credentials. Distance learners in this program must complete courses centered on introductory and intermediate CAD skills and solid modeling/visualization, and new students are expected to complete an online TCAT orientation course designed to introduce the school’s immersive online learning experience. Students who complete the CAD technician certificate program will be well-versed in basic CAD, CAE, CAM and SolidWorks software applications, and have a working knowledge of traditional drafting and modeling techniques.

TCAT students in the online drafting program may enroll during summer, fall or spring semesters. The CAD tech certificate comprises 356 clock hours in four subject areas, including the online orientation course. Distance learners may complete courses asynchronously through the Desire2Learn platform. Most students enrolled in TCAT’s online certificate programs complete all required coursework in one to two trimesters.

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4

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Crump

 2/574.52%Crump, TN

campus_tennessee_college_of_applied_technology_crump2

The Tennessee College of Applied Technology location in Crump offers a CAD technician certificate intended for practicing professionals. Students will take courses in introductory and intermediate CAD skills, as well as solid modeling/visualization. They are also required to complete a brief online TCAT orientation course, which introduces the college’s online learning environment. Graduates of the CAD technician certificate program are prepared to use basic CAD, CAE, CAM and SolidWorks software applications, as well as traditional drafting and modeling techniques.

Enrollment for the CAD tech certificate is offered through the summer, fall and spring semesters. This online program comprises 356 clock hours divided among three primary subject areas, including the six-credit online orientation course. Courses are delivered asynchronously via the Desire2Learn platform, and like most of TCAT’s online certificate programs, the CAD tech certificate is designed to be completed in less than two trimesters.

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5

Owensboro Community and Technical College

 1/530.87%Owensboro, KY

campus-owensboro-community-and-technical-college

Owensboro Community and Technical College's computer assisted drafter certificate teaches students how to translate designs from architects and engineers into precise technical drawings. This online drafting program incorporates coursework in 2D and 3D CAD drafting techniques and emphasizes manual drafting skills for lettering, orthographic projections and other methods of interpreting graphic language. The certificate program is designed to prepare students in the field of computer assisted drafting for broad professional opportunities in manufacturing, mechanics or architecture, or within a civic organization or agency.

Students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credit hours, though they may take up to 36 course credits including additional optional electives. In addition to maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 overall, distance learners in this program are also required to maintain at least a “C” grade in each of the technical and mathematics courses included in the curriculum. Online courses are offered through Blackboard via the Kentucky Community and Technical College System’s “Learn by Term” virtual classroom.

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6

Hazard Community and Technical College

 1/530.62%Hazard, KY

The computer assisted drafter certificate program at Hazard Community and Technical College equips emerging CAD professionals with the skills needed to translate architectural and engineering designs into technical drawings, using both computer assisted and manual drafting techniques. Coursework is designed to provide an introduction to drafting fundamentals and allow for broad applications in various professional fields that require use of both technical and graphic design skills.

The online certificate requires a minimum of 30 credit hours for completion, but students seeking additional electives credits may take up to 36 total courses. A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, as well as a minimum “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course, must be maintained for the duration of the certificate program. Online courses are administered via the Blackboard platform.

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7

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Newbern

 2/580.39%Newbern, TN

Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s CAD technician certificate, offered at its Newbern campus location, is among the best online CAD programs for practicing professionals seeking advanced industry credentials. Though the curriculum does include a CAD introduction for beginner users, coursework emphasizes intermediate-level CAD competencies, designed to increase productivity and proficiency among graduates of the program. Students must complete a brief online TCAT orientation course in order to familiarize themselves with the elearning system. Graduates are eligible for a broad range of professional applications including engineering, manufacturing and more.

Students enrolled in TCAT-Newbern’s CAD technician certificate program must complete courses in introductory and intermediate CAD concepts and solid modeling/visualization, as well as an online orientation, totaling 356 clock hours. Enrollment for the online certificate is offered during summer, fall and spring semesters. Students complete coursework asynchronously using the Desire2Learn platform. TCAT’s online certificate program is designed to be completed in one to two trimesters.

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8

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College

 1/529.18%Cumberland, KY

Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College offers a computer assisted drafter certificate, providing both the computer assisted and manual skills required to translate designs from architects and engineers into technical drawings. Coursework in the online drafting program comprises both 2D and 3D CAD drafting techniques as well as computer/digital literacy. Through completion of this broad, multi-faceted curriculum, students learn drafting fundamentals that can be applied in a variety of professional fields that require precise graphic design skills, including mechanical engineering, manufacturing, architecture and more.

Students will complete between 30 and 36 credit hours, depending on the number of electives courses they choose. Distance learners in this program must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and a minimum “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course for the duration of the certificate program. Each of the “Learn by Term” courses in this program are provided by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System via the Blackboard platform.

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9

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Nashville

 1/573.56%Nashville, TN

The Nashville campus of Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers a CAD technician certificate that teaches students basic CAD functions and terminology before they move on to intermediate CAD skills and solid modeling/visualization. CAD technician certificate graduates are equipped with basic SolidWorks software skills, as well as proficiency using traditional drafting and modeling techniques and CAD, CAE and CAM platforms.

Distance learners in the CAD tech certificate program may enroll in summer, fall or spring semesters. To complete the certificate, students must complete a total of 356 clock hours in three primary subject areas, along with a six-credit online orientation course. The online program comprises asynchronous coursework, delivered via Desire2Learn and the Regents Online Campus Collaborative portal. Most students have completed TCAT’s specially designed accelerated online certificate programs in under two trimesters.

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10

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Jackson

 1/581.07%Jackson, TN

Tennessee College of Applied Technology-Jackson’s CAD technician certificate is well-suited to practicing professionals looking to further their CAD competencies. Students in the CAD tech certificate program will study isometric drawing, advanced dimensioning commands, blocks and attributes and more. CAD technician certificate program graduates can apply their skills in basic CAD, CAE, CAM, SolidWorks software applications and traditional drafting and modeling in a broad range of jobs involving architecture, design, technology and more.

Enrollment for the CAD tech certificate is available in summer, fall and spring semesters. The entire online certificate program comprises 356 clock hours, including three primary subject areas (intro to CAD, intermediate CAD and solid modeling/visualization) as well as a six-credit online orientation course. Distance learners complete assignments asynchronously via D2L, and the certificate program is designed to be completed in less than two trimesters.

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11

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Crossville

 1/577.46%Crossville, TN

The Crossville campus of Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers an online CAD technician certificate for those looking to further their CAD skills or to become CAD professionals. Coursework in the online drafting program includes plotting geometric drawings, basic part modeling and edrawing and animation. Students must also complete a brief online TCAT orientation course. The CAD technician certificate program provides basic skills needed for industry jobs, including conventional drafting and modeling methods as well as CAD, CAE, CAM and SolidWorks software applications.

The College of Applied Technology at TCAT offers summer, fall and spring semester enrollment for the CAD tech certificate. Distance learners must satisfy requirements totaling 356 clock hours in four sections, including the six-credit online orientation course. Online courses can be completed asynchronously in Desire2Learn. The Regents Online Campus Collaborative hosts the CAD technician certificate as an accelerated program for distance learners; most students have completed the program in between one and two trimesters.

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12

Bluegrass Community and Technical College

 1/516.87%Lexington, KY

Bluegrass Community and Technical College offers a computer assisted drafter certificate for aspiring and professional CAD drafters and designers. This online drafting program was designed to teach students how to use both computer assisted and manual drafting techniques to translate spec designs into technical drawings. Graduates are skilled in 2D and 3D CAD drafting techniques, descriptive geometry, parametric modeling and computer/digital literacy. Coursework covers basic drafting fundamentals with broad professional applications in technical and graphic design fields.

A minimum of 30 credit hours are required to complete the certificate program, but students may take up to 36 total courses with additional optional electives. Distance learners must keep a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and a minimum “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course for the duration of the certificate program. The “Learn by Term” division of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System administers certificate courses via the Blackboard platform for online students.

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13

Big Sandy Community and Technical College

 1/520.04%Prestonsburg, KY

Big Sandy Community and Technical College offers a computer assisted drafter certificate program online, developed to teach CAD professionals the fundamentals of both computer assisted and manual drafting techniques. This online drafting program includes courses in dimensioning and tolerancing, orthographic projections, 2D and 3D CAD drafting techniques and other forms of graphic communication. Coursework is also intended to provide students with basic skills in written and oral communications and computer/digital literacy.

While a minimum of 30 credit hours are required, students may choose to take additional technical electives courses beyond this basic requirement. Distance learners must maintain at least a “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course and a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 for the entirety of the online drafting program. Online courses are administered through the Blackboard platform.

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14

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College

 1/524.13%Elizabethtown, KY

Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s computer assisted drafter certificate is among the best online CAD programs due to its extensive instruction in both manual drafting techniques as well as 2D and 3D CAD competencies. The certificate program includes courses in descriptive geometry, engineering graphics, parametric modeling, computer/digital literacy and more. Graduates of the certificate program at Elizabethtown are proficient in computer assisted methods of translating architectural and/or engineering designs into accurate, precise technical drawings.

The certificate program requires at least 30 credit hours for completion; students may choose up to four additional electives for a maximum total of 36 credit hours. A cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and a minimum “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course must be maintained for the duration of the certificate program. Elizabethtown Community and Technical College’s online “Learn by Term” division provides coursework through Blackboard for distance learners.

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15

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Dickson

 1/559.5%Dickson, TN

Tennessee College of Applied Technology in Dickson offers a CAD technician certificate for CAD professionals or aspiring CAD professionals to improve field credentials. Students in the online drafting program will learn solid modeling/visualization techniques and sharpen their introductory and intermediate CAD skills. Coursework covers basic CAD, CAE, CAM, SolidWorks software applications and manual drafting and modeling concepts, and students are required to complete a brief online TCAT orientation course.

Distance learners can enroll for the CAD technician certificate in summer, fall or spring semesters. Online courses are comprised of 356 clock hours across three primary subject areas, including the six-credit online orientation course. Students may complete courses asynchronously in Desire2Learn in as little as one to two trimesters.

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16

Tennessee College of Applied Technology – Murfreesboro

 1/579.7%Murfreesboro, TN

The Murfreesboro campus of Tennessee College of Applied Technology offers a CAD technician certificate, ideal for practicing CAD professionals as well as aspiring professionals looking to obtain or advance their CAD credentials in the industry. Students enrolled in the online drafting program will learn basic CAD skills at both the introductory and intermediate level, including CAD, CAE, CAM and SolidWorks software applications. They will also study manual and digital drafting and modeling techniques through coursework in solid modeling/visualization. In addition to core curriculum, students must complete a brief online TCAT orientation course, which provides an overview of the virtual classroom at TCAT.

TCAT offers summer, fall and spring enrollment for the CAD tech certificate. Distance learners will complete a total of 356 clock hours in online TCAT orientation, intro to CAD, intermediate CAD and solid modeling/visualization. Coursework is delivered asynchronously through Desire2Learn and the Regents Online Campus Collaborative portal. Generally, the CAD tech certificate program can be completed in less than two trimesters.

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17

Somerset Community College

 1/524.98%Somerset, KY

The computer assisted drafter certificate program at Somerset Community and Technical College is designed to sharpen computer assisted and manual drafting skills among students who are practicing or aspiring CAD professionals. Coursework in this online drafting program explores not only basic computer/digital literacy but also descriptive geometry, parametric modeling and 2D and 3D CAD drafting techniques. Graduates are proficient in a variety of graphic languages and communication tools, and may be qualified for a variety of professional opportunities using their knowledge of combined technical and artistic skills.

Students earning the online certificate may complete between 30 and 36 total credit hours, depending on their choice of optional electives. Required curriculum comprises a combination of general education and technical core courses. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0, as well as a minimum “C” grade in each technical and mathematics course throughout the duration of the program. Distance learners complete courses online in Blackboard through the “Learn by Term” division of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.

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18

Minnesota State College – Southeast Technical

 2/530.31%Winona, MN

Minnesota State College offers four online drafting programs aimed at preparing CAD professionals and aspiring CAD professionals for top employment in the industry. Distance learners may select from several certificates in basic drafting technologies, computer aided drafting technologies or computer aided design drafting technologies.An associate’s degree in computer aided design drafting technologies is also available. Coursework in MSC’s online drafting programs is designed to increase proficiency in the latest industry programs such as Autocad, Solidworks, Inventor, Google SketchUP and more.

Distance learners may choose an online CAD certificate or AAS degree option that suits their schedule and career goals. MSC offers certificate options comprising nine, 16 or 30 total credit hours, depending on student’s preference, while the AAS in CAD drafting technologies requires completion of 60 total credit hours. Distance courses are delivered in D2L using leading-edge 3D parametric software. Online drafting programs at MSC are designed to be completed in two years or less.

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19

Thomas Nelson Community College

 1/515.85%Hampton, VA

Thomas Nelson Community College offers an online career studies certificate in computer aided drafting and design technology. Coursework outlines the fundamentals of Autocad and Inventor software and teaches students parametric solid modeling, advanced technical drafting and the basics of engineering drawing. Graduates of this career-training program are prepared for gainful employment that requires a unique combination of engineering and technical drafting abilities and a working knowledge of common industry applications and software. Students must construct a parametric solid modeling or capstone design project of their choice to complete the certificate.

Distance learners must complete a minimum of 16 credit hours over roughly five courses, including the capstone, to earn the career studies certificate. Courses are delivered through Blackboard. TNCC’s online computer aided drafting and design technology career studies certificate is intended to be an accelerated program; most students earn the certificate in 12 months.

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20

Central Alabama Community College

 1/513.97%Alexander City, AL

Central Alabama Community College offers an AAS in drafting and design technology, among the best online CAD programs for aspiring drafting professionals in the state. Courses are centered on career preparation for the field of computer aided drafting, teaching students the fundamentals of design and drafting technology, technical illustration and specialized CAD skills currently used in the industry. Students in the online drafting program will also learn about microcomputer applications and the fundamentals of oral communication, as well as algebra and basic composition.

Distance learners earning the AAS in drafting and design technology are required to complete 76 total credit hours in general education, technical concentration and electives courses. Students complete online coursework in Moodle, and must complete an introductory orientation/assessment course by the given deadline before moving on to other courses. Distance courses are designed to mimic traditional classroom instruction but allow students to complete courses online at their own pace. CACC estimates that students will need five or more hours per week for each online class.

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Computer-aided design, or CAD, is the cornerstone of modern drafting. Graduates of a high-quality online program are skilled at various CAD techniques, and are familiar with all of the platforms commonly used in the industry. Additionally, students can concentrate their studies on specific design projects; these options include architectural blueprints, maps, wiring diagrams, product manuals and circuit board layouts.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly half of professional drafters find work in the architectural and engineering sector. The median annual salary for this industry is $51,940. The BLS estimates that 204,400 jobs comprise the drafting industry, and this number is estimated to decline 3% over the next eight years. Qualified drafters equipped with technical experience stand to fare well in the competitive job market; up-to-date knowledge of AutoCAD and other current software platforms will further increase employment prospects.

Drafting is a perfect outlet for detail-oriented, creative technicians who enjoy developing rough sketches into finished products and standing structures. Online drafting programs equip students with all of the knowledge and skills needed for a successful career in this tech-driven field. The flexible online format also offers a convenient alternative to traditional brick-and-mortar education, allowing students to master their craft from the comfort of their own home.

Professional Drafting Organizations

American Design Drafting Association: The ADDA is a non-profit professional association, established by oil and gas piping drafters in 1948. Today, the organization offers professional certificate programs.

American Society for Engineering Education: Members of the ASEE gain access to events, publications and research to support engineering educators. The organization provides resources for students, including scholarship and fellowship opportunities.

Autodesk Education Community: The ACC is geared toward drafters studying AutoCAD and other Autodesk products. Members gain access to the Education Expert Network, which helps students receive and give peer support.

National Society of Professional Engineers: The NSPE offers educational opportunities and resources for professionals in the engineering field, including drafters.