Updated December 2022
Want to learn how to draft building plans, engineering blueprints, product models, or assembly manuals? A computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting program is your first step.
Drafting training focuses on teaching you how to use special software to create detailed technical drawings and blueprints for architects, engineers, and construction crews. It can prepare you to play a pivotal role in the production of anything from houses and bridges to car parts and machinery.
And most drafting programs are fairly short. In less than two years, you will be ready to take on your first job as a draftsperson or CAD technician.
But finding a quality drafting program can be challenging. There are so many options out there, from short courses and certificates to diplomas and even degrees. How can you tell which one is best for you? What should you be looking for?
In this post, we break down the five key characteristics of a solid CAD and drafting program. Find out what features are most important so you can start your career with confidence.
1. WHAT SKILLS AND SOFTWARE should THE DRAFTING PROGRAM cover?
Getting comfortable with different kinds of CAD software is the most important skill you will learn in a drafting program. A good program offers hands-on training in several different computer applications for architecture, engineering, manufacturing, and construction.
Here are some examples of software packages you can expect to learn:
☑️ AutoCAD (for creating and editing 2D drawings)
☑️ Autodesk Inventor (for creating drawings and models of mechanical parts and assemblies)
☑️ SolidWorks (for 3D parametric modelling in mechanical design and manufacturing)
☑️ Autodesk Revit (for designing and documenting buildings for construction)
☑️ 3D Studio Max (for rendering, animation, lighting, etc.)
☑️ 3D VIZ fundamentals (for creating drawings and animations for architectural presentations)
☑️ Autodesk Mechanical Desktop (for creating 3D drawings and presentations of mechanical elements)
☑️ Autodesk Architectural Desktop (for creating drawings for architectural projects, such as electrical layouts or building foundations)
Having a solid grounding in different software also makes it easier for you to adapt to new technologies. Even if you end up at a company that uses a program you've never seen, you should be able to learn the basics of it fairly easily.
Herzing drafting instructor Roberto Romano says learning software through hands-on training is key. This is how you'll build the drafting skills you need to get hired.
"Drafting students need a good foundation in software and plenty of experience completing assignments similar to those they'll get at work.
Students should learn by doing. Hands-on projects teach them a very marketable range of skills, from time management and precision to teamwork and independent problem solving.
By graduation, you should be fully prepared for the real world of design and drafting."
2. IS THE DRAFTING PROGRAM LED BY EXPERIENCED INSTRUCTORS?
Look into the background of each drafting program instructor. You'll want to make sure you're learning from industry pros who understand what it takes to succeed in the drafting field.
Do they have hands-on experience in the type of drafting that interests you (such as architectural, mechanical, or manufacturing)? Do they know what today's employers look for in new CAD technicians or draftspersons?
Also, check out how big the classes are. Find out how much interaction instructors have with students and how available they are to provide guidance and advice.
3. DOES THE DRAFTING PROGRAM INCLUDE AN EXTENSIVE INTERNSHIP?
If you're hoping for a competitive edge when looking for your first drafting job, nothing beats actual work experience. And getting that experience before you graduate is even more valuable.
An internship allows you to apply what you've learned in a real-world setting, build on your professional skills, and make important industry connections.
The more time spent in an actual work setting, the better. A high-quality drafting course will include an internship that runs for 10 weeks or more.
Some students get job offers right out of their internships. So this is a really important feature to look for.
4. DOES THE COLLEGE HAVE A SOLID REPUTATION?
Before committing to any drafting program, it's important to research the college's track record. Are their graduate placement rates consistently high? Do they get positive reviews from students and grads? Has the school been operating for many years?
It's wise to visit the campus to get a sense of the overall vibe. If possible, book a tour so you can see what sort of facilities are available.
If you can't get to campus, check out the website, social media, and Google reviews for more information.
6. Will you get help to find your first drafting job?
You need to know what happens after you complete your drafting program. A good college provides support to help students transition from training to employment.
Find out what types of career services are available. See if the college offers:
☑️ Help with putting together an effective resume and cover letter
☑️ Connections to local companies who hire drafting program grads
☑️ Help with finding and applying to suitable drafting jobs
☑️ Prep sessions to help you practise your job interviewing skills
Handy cHecklist of Questions to ask admissions
After you've narrowed down your options to a few drafting programs, it's time to talk to admissions at each school. This is your chance to ask questions, dig deeper, and find out which program is right for you.
What questions should you ask? Here's a handy checklist you can use:
☑️ What software is covered in the drafting program?
☑️ How much professional and teaching experience does the instructor have?
☑️ How big are the classes?
☑️ Is an internship included? How long is it?
☑️ How long has the college existed?
☑️ What kind of career assistance is available?
☑️ What kind of financial aid or scholarships can you get?
EXPLORE THE DRAFTING PROGRAM AT HERZING COLLEGE MONTREAL
Check out Herzing's accelerated Computer-Aided Design and Drafting program. It takes just 16 months to complete and includes a 16-week internship at a local company. This program can also be extended up to 24 months.
If you'd like more details, we recommend speaking with an admissions advisor. An advisor can answer your questions and walk you through application requirements, class schedules, financial aid options, and more.
Click below to explore the program and chat live with an advisor. We're here to help!