Degrees in Computer Aided Drafting/CAD: Computer Aided Drafting/CAD is used by professionals in a wide variety of fields to develop concepts for new products, structures, and other tangible objects. Before any object can become a reality, it must be completely designed down to the detail. Computer Aided Drafting/CAD professionals often use their skills to design machinery, which in turn is used in the development of advanced technical products. In order to ensure that all the electric and electronic components are put together correctly, advanced CAD techniques must be used.
Computer Aided Drafting/CAD is an extremely diverse and versatile field that will allow you to take a job in any industry that you are passionate about. You can work on everything from consumer products to large, sophisticated control systems for municipal power, water, and more. You will be able to realize your interests in engineering, computers, architecture, product development and many other different areas depending on the classes you take -- and learn extremely software programs that are very much in demand.
Computer Aided Drafting/CAD Degree Levels Available Online
- Undergraduate/Graduate Certificate: 1 year to complete
- Associate Degree: 2 years to complete
- Bachelor's Degree: 4 years to complete
- Master's Degree: 1-3 years to complete
- Doctorate Degree: 4-6 years to complete
If you already have some experience in drafting but wish to learn the most modern tools and techniques, an undergraduate certificate in Computer Aided Drafting/CAD might be a good idea for you. This is also a good way for someone who already has some level of computer or engineering skills to become experienced in the world of CAD. Graduate certificates are often pursued by senior professionals who want to expand their skills into the advanced areas of developing better CAD tools in their industries.
Getting started in CAD will typically require either an associate's degree or a bachelor's degree. While an associate's degree can certainly get you started in a beginning capacity, a bachelor's degree is preferred by many students because it offers the opportunity to specialize your design skills in an area of your choosing. If you are not sure what industry you would like to work in, the "general" education of an associate's degree may be more to your liking at the start of your career.
A master's degree is typically sought by those who are skilled in computing, engineering, or electronics. It gives professionals in Computer Aided Drafting/CAD the chance to look at different ways to enhance the tools of the trade and the way that they are used. While this is an excellent way to build your earning potential and join the forefront of the field, it is not necessarily for everyone. Those who love using CAD and teaching others to do so will often thrive in a program like this.
A doctoral degree is appropriate for anyone who wishes to build a complete research career around CAD. Professionals with a doctorate degree are empowered to become college professors and help instruct the next generation of CAD practitioners. When one reaches the doctorate level, one becomes a senior researcher who must produce a dissertation, a very long research project that includes both theoretical and practical elements. With a doctoral degree in CAD, you can lead the teams that generate the new CAD tools of the future.
When approaching any degree program, you will have to have certain elements in order to be admitted. These usually include:
- High School Diploma
- SAT/ACT Scores
- Letters of Recommendation
- Personal Statements/Essays
In CAD, your SAT scores are extremely important. A Computer Aided Drafting/CAD student is expected to have above average scores on the math portion of the SAT. The ACT offers subject matter tests that can also help you improve your chances of admission to the program you want. Letters of recommendation can be helpful if, during your high school career, you took any advanced classes in computing or related fields.
Online Computer Aided Drafting/CAD vs. Traditional College Programs
When attending online courses, a Computer Aided Drafting/CAD student will use all of the same tools that a student uses in face-to-face courses. A "learner's" version of these tools may be provided by your school for free or at an extreme discount. CAD students work together on large-scale projects or offer one another constructive feedback on individual work. Videos, audio, and other kinds of multimedia technologies are used to demonstrate effective use of software and principles of design.
Tuition and Accreditation
Tuition in Computer Aided Drafting/CAD is comparable to tuition in other technical fields and may be less expensive than attending a face-to-face course. Remember that the cost of a program in CAD will also include software that can be pricey -- as a student, you will be subject to exclusive discounts. While a short certificate might cost only about $5,000 to $8,000, a complete undergraduate education may cost upwards of $15,000 or more per year. A graduate degree tends to be slightly pricier than an undergraduate one, although it is shorter. The cost of a program is usually measured on a per-class basis.
Accreditation of your college program is a very important issue. Look for accreditation that includes acknowledgement from established regional agencies. Some Computer Aided Drafting/CAD programs have also been endorsed by professional societies, although this is not required for a program to be good. Online programs that have been in operation for several years typically offer a high quality education in the field.
Choosing the Best Computer Aided Drafting/CAD Degree
Choosing the best Computer Aided Drafting/CAD degree means working with professionals who have experience in the areas that you want to master. Be sure that your program will make use of all the most modern tools, since you will be expected to keep up with trends in the industry once you become a professional. This usually means having to learn and re-learn the newest software every few years, which is best done with an experienced mentor.