Computer Aided Design Associate Degree Programs

A computer-aided design associate's degree program can get you started in a career as a mechanical drafter, circuit designer or engineering technician. Read on to learn about degree programs, potential coursework and possible career paths. Schools offering AutoCAD Drafting & Design Technology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Computer-Aided Design Associate's Degree Program?

Computer-aided design associate's degree programs give you the technical skills needed to work in a variety of industries. These programs are often referred to as computer-aided design (CAD) programs. In some cases, you can specialize your training to focus on a particular field. Online programs in computer-aided drafting aren't common.

You can find computer-aided design associate's degree programs at community colleges and technical schools across the U.S. They typically provide facilities equipped with industry standard computers and software such as AutoCAD. An associate's degree in computer-aided design usually takes about two years of full-time study to complete, and some students go on to earn 4-year bachelor's degrees in engineering technology or a related field.

Program Overview Programs take about two years to complete and aren't typically offered online due to hands-on training requirements
Common Courses Mechanical drafting, blueprint reading, civil drafting, engineering graphics, solid modeling
Job Outlook 3% decline* projected for 2014-2024 (for all drafters)
Certification Optional certification by the American Design Drafting Association

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Courses Will I Take?

The curriculum of a computer-aided design associate's degree program gives you a deep understanding of how to render project plans and use computer systems for creating and storing the plans. Your first courses typically cover the basics of CAD, and then begin to focus on the software used in the industry. AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Architectural Desktop, MicroStation, Revit, PADS-PCB and Autodesk Inventor are common software tools covered, but not all associate's degree programs cover all software applications. Many of your courses include extensive lab time, providing you with an opportunity to practice your skills through hands-on experiences. Courses may include:

  • Mechanical drafting
  • Engineering graphics
  • Solid modeling
  • Design for manufacturing
  • Blueprint reading
  • Parametric modeling and design
  • Structural drafting
  • Civil drafting
  • Geometric dimensioning
  • Topographical drafting

What Can I Do With My Degree?

With an associate's degree in computer-aided design, your job options include CAD operator, CAD manager, CAD designer, draftsperson or technical salesperson. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for all drafting careers is expected to decline by 3% from 2014-2024, and an associate's degree gives you the best job opportunities in this slowly declining job market. The BLS also states that you can become a certified drafter by passing the American Design Drafting Association's Drafter Certification Test. Most employers don't require certification, the BLS said, but having it signifies your ability to adhere to national industry standards (www.bls.gov) and provides additional appeal in a competitive market.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Ferris State University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Big Rapids
  • Northern Michigan University

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Marquette
  • Dunwoody College of Technology

    Campus Locations:

    • Minnesota: Minneapolis
  • Waubonsee Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: Sugar Grove
  • Washtenaw Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Michigan: Ann Arbor
  • Virginia Highlands Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Abingdon
  • Tulsa Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Oklahoma: Tulsa
  • Triton College

    Campus Locations:

    • Illinois: River Grove
  • Tidewater Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Norfolk
  • Thomas Nelson Community College

    Campus Locations:

    • Virginia: Hampton