A Computer-Aided Design (CAD) degree is a specialized degree that focuses on utilizing computer software and hardware to make technical drawings and designs into digital images. Online colleges typically offer multiple certifications, diplomas, and an associate's degrees in CAD. Each program will offer different employment opportunities, so it is important that you begin coursework in your desired career path. The length of certifications vary from nine to thirty credits, and an associates is usually sixty credits over the course of two to three years.
Accreditation is very important when looking for a college that offers online CAD classes. Unfortunately, there are unaccredited diploma mills that give out fraudulent certifications that employers won't recognize as legitimate education. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) is an important accreditation to look for in a college as it is recognized by the US Department of Education as an authoritative accreditation institution. You can find accredited online certification and degree programs at the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) website, as well as the US Department of Education (USDE).
Aside from the associates, there are many different certifications you can achieve for CAD, including civil, architectural, mechanical, animation and visualization, drafting, landscaping, styling, industrial design, and more. Each will offer you a leg-up in your desired career path as they show potential employers your dedication and knowledge of your craft. CAD programs are highly technical and give students a deep understanding of CAD systems to ensure they are prepared to create and use their computer images efficiently and effectively for any project they undertake. Generally, in a CAD program you will learn about 2D and 3D modeling, CAD management, technical drawing, parametric modeling, and how to use industry-standard software, like Autocad, Google SketchUP, Inventor, and more.
Depending on the specialty you want to get into, graduates tend to find work as professional drafters, engineering technicians, and CAD designers and managers. There are many different industries that you can begin a career in as well, including electrical, aerospace, oil and gas, architectural, construction, railways, and electrical. Each industry will offer different opportunities and salaries, so be sure to research which program is right for you. You can also work as a freelancer if you are unable to find a job right after graduation.
The skills you gain in a CAD program will be helpful in other career fields as well. In order to be successful in your degree program, you will have to be good at mathematics, IT, communications and presentations, problem solving and critical thinking, creativity, and teamwork. Because there are so many different companies that require CAD professionals to help design anything from small computer microchips to entire industrial complexes, the job outlook for graduates is relatively positive.