Associate in Drafting Program Guide

August 13, 2021

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An associate degree in drafting prepares students for a variety of design, architecture, engineering, and manufacturing-related careers. These programs equip learners with an understanding of production, structural, and manufacturing processes, along with the skills needed to work with different tools and design programs.

Between 2019 and 2029, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the addition of nearly 75,000 jobs in architecture and engineering occupations, many of which associate degree-holders can access. In addition to earning an entry-level position in this sector, graduates can advance their careers through experience or further training.

On this page, we examine the program in more detail, looking at study options, career possibilities, and considerations for prospective students.

Should I Get an Associate in Drafting?

Students may learn computer-aided design for a variety of manufacturing and building processes, but many programs focus on either manufacturing technology, engineering, or architectural building.

An associate degree in drafting opens the door to exciting industries and careers. Students learn to work with architects, engineers, and manufacturers in various industries, creating technical drawings with different applications and programs. Some prospective engineers and architects may start their careers in drafting as they build their experience and complete further training.

In general, an associate degree in drafting requires approximately 60 credits and takes students about two years to complete. Students may learn computer-aided design for a variety of manufacturing and building processes, but many programs focus on either manufacturing technology, engineering, or architectural building.

Students with a specific industry in mind should look for programs that cover essential and emerging technologies used in those industries, such as computer numerical control programming and 3D printing courses. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects 3% job growth for architecture and engineering occupations, close to the average growth rate for all occupations. Candidates with the most in-demand skills will likely enjoy the best job opportunities.

While this degree provides students with a quick pathway to a rewarding profession, improved drafting technologies have expanded the capabilities of architects and engineers. This development has limited the number of entry-level jobs available and increased the competition for those positions. Degree-seekers should consider pursuing additional certification in drafting, which can strengthen their job prospects.

What Will I Learn in a Drafting Associate Program?

In an online associate program in drafting, students learn how to create sketches with complex specifications and perspectives and how to convert designs into technical drawings. Courses vary by school, but many programs teach design techniques using major modeling software programs. Students also learn to apply manufacturing and building knowledge when drafting.

Most associate in drafting programs provide an associate in applied sciences and focus on the practical components of the field. Students learn to turn a design idea into a production-ready drawing, matching technical specifications with appropriate manufacturing equipment and technology output.

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What Can I Do With an Associate in Drafting?

Graduates with an online associate degree in drafting support the work of architects and engineers in many different industries. According to the BLS, most drafters work in architectural and civil drafting, followed by mechanical drafting and electrical drafting. Approximately 10% of drafters work in construction.

Professionals trained in drafting and computer-aided design may also work as technicians in various engineering disciplines. To improve their odds at employment in the sector of their choice, students should select their courses and internships strategically.

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How Much Money Can I Make With an Associate in Drafting?

Drafting professionals earn strong salaries due to their specialized and highly technical capabilities. According to BLS data, these professionals earned a median annual salary of $57,960 in 2019, which is about $16,000 higher than the median annual salary for all occupations. The top 10% of earners in the field made more than $87,970 that year.

Frequently Asked Questions About Associate in Drafting Programs

What is drafting?

Drafting involves creating a technical drawing that provides construction, engineering, and manufacturing instructions for professionals and manufacturing technology. This process usually involves translating a design into a drafting program or platform. Drafting incorporates every aspect of the design while integrating necessary information for the production stage.

How much does it cost to get an associate in drafting?

The price of an associate degree in drafting varies by school and location. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median annual tuition cost for an associate program was $3,300 in 2018. Some schools offer tuition discounts for community residents.

What can you do with an associate in drafting?

With an associate degree in drafting, students can access drafting and technician careers in architecture, engineering, construction, and manufacturing. This degree can also lead to further training, such as a bachelor's degree in engineering or manufacturing technology. Some students may use their drafting degree as a foundation for other computer-aided design careers, such as graphic design.

Is an associate in drafting worth it?

For creative students with strong math and technical skills, drafting provides a great professional outlet. An associate degree in drafting equips learners with the credentials and abilities needed to pursue careers in essential industries, work with cutting edge technologies, and help create meaningful products and infrastructure.

Are computer-aided design drafters in demand?

While the BLS projects a 4% decline in jobs for drafting careers between 2019 and 2029, professionals in large manufacturing and construction hubs should still find career opportunities. Although technology improvements allow engineers and architects to perform some of the tasks traditionally assigned to drafters, larger organizations still employ drafting professionals and technicians for these duties.

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