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Penn Foster Course vs Realities of Day to Day Drafting Work


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I am new to this forum and new to drafting. 

Very long story short, I am going through Penn Foster's drafting course, and I have read a lot on this forum about the course itself vs other forms of learning, and I see so many pros and cons to a number of ways of doing things. 

But what I am most interested in getting some input on is, how does the course itself compare to what you will actually encounter in day to day life as a drafter?


I have essentially no knowledge of the industry, and I know that each discipline and each company will be much different. 

But for example, the course spends tremendous amounts of time on traditional pencil and paper style drafting, and large amounts of time on (what I consider to be) in depth math. 

I know that math is a large part of drafting - but do I really need to know these equations and formulas like the back of my hand? 

According to this course it makes it seem like basically if I am not knowledgeable enough to be college freshman math teacher I am not going to cut it in drafting.. 


How much of a typical drafting job anymore is just being able to use the software, as opposed to knowing all the math constantly?


I have worked in construction for many years and am fully capable of all of the basic math required to build structures and renovate kitchens and install flooring, etc. And I am an artist who has always enjoyed precise and simple design. 

But I am not naturally good at math. I struggled throughout school, and continue to struggle today when it comes to complex geometry and whatnot. 


What am I looking at in the real world, and how much time do I need to be spending mastering these math concepts, as opposed to just learning the software?


(At this time I have still not even accessed AutoCad yet as I am still immersed in these areas of it, I have not been given access to the software yet.)


Thank you so much. 

Edited by KeithM
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Your basic math skills would be sufficient to get a job as an AutoCAD technician.  If hired you would most likely start as an entry level computer aided draftsman and would be tasked with working off of sketches, redlines, or even basic CAD drawings done by an engineer to flesh out a concept/design.  But as you point out much depends on what discipline you find yourself employed in.  Do you have some idea, at this time, what particular field you might like to eventually work in?  Some options are civil, structural, architectural, electrical, mechanical, hydro-geological, chemical, marine, environmental and industrial to name a few. 


Regarding Penn-Foster AutoCAD course.  You'll get the basics by way of creating a subdivision layout, an industrial building, an electrical schematic, and such.  They have recycled the same drawings for years without adding much in the way of new content.  Their instructors are said to be mostly indifferent to their students often going days before answering a question if they answer at all.  But there are a few people who have reported back that after completing the certificate course they were able to land a job.

Edited by ReMark
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ReMark is the only reason Penn Foster is still in business, as he so clearly exhibits his willingness to respond to, and help their students.

So much so that the indifferent "instructors" for Penn Foster routinely just refer students with questions (if they respond at all?)

to the numerous Penn Foster threads on this forum, knowing that if ReMark hasn't already posted answers, he soon will,

in a very timely and well informed manner.   :beer:

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Where I used to work we would get final year students and employ for 12 weeks this was a requirement to get there degree, work experience. Most had a exposure to Autocad, so knew the basics. we would get them to do projects where they copied another issued plan for the detail required, involving them also in what and why they were drawing. The would soak up the experience learning rapidly, I am happy to say as far as I know all were employed shortly after as employers knew they had been overseen and trained well ensuring quality output. They also had the extra value of field experience going out to project sites, assisting the project engineer.


So Keithm you can get software generally for a month as a trial, if your a school student you can get Autocad for 12 months. So spend the time learning, in you other time like ReMark think about what industry you want to work in, go knock on doors and ask for a job, you may be surprised who is looking for a junior.

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A belated welcome to the forum Keithm.  :beard: 

I love doing Cad, started using it when I was 58, and still love using it.

Enjoy the learning curve and limitlessness of its potential.

There is ALWAYS more to learn, for those who appreciate a challenge.


Once you access AutoCad, the mycadsite.com  is a very good way to get started self teaching.

Within a couple days to a week, depending on your appetite and curiousity, you will be well on your way to learning

the ropes of the software and essential commands and functionality.

Edited by Dadgad
random synaps
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Wow thank you so much everyone for your responses! This is wonderful to have people to talk to about this. I really appreciate the reassurance as well. 

Yes, the main reasons why I had decided to go with Penn Foster was dual: 1) to hopefully learn valuable skills that I might have overlooked while trying to self teach (which I will say I have learned things, so I am not entirely displeased in that regard at this time) and 2) to get access to the student AutoCad as it is rather expensive otherwise and I figured the cost of the course was actually cheaper than a year of AutoCad. 

I am not sure if this was the best way to go about that however. 

I did not suspect that a certificate from PennFoster would carry significant weight in the real world, but figured it wouldn't hurt me.


As for a discipline, I am not entirely sure yet. 

I absolutely love the idea of architectural drafting, although I suspect that this field is very saturated and harder to break into. 

I am a private pilot and my father has been an airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic for 30 years, so I have grown up in an aviation household, and I live in Tulsa Oklahoma which is an aerospace hot bed, so I imagine there are lots of opportunities in that field, although I will admit that I find the mechanics of aviation much less interesting than the actual flying part of it. 

Another big industry in my area is oil and gas, so I imagine there is a lot of work to be found in that field here. 

I also have about 15 years of experience in the landscape industry. 

So what I am drawn to and truly interested in is more architectural or landscape/property design. 


As someone who has trained many people in fields new to them, I am a firm believer in the fact that I would rather have someone who has no experience but it willing to learn, rather than someone who has all the right certifications but has no humility or actual knowledge. So I feel like if I can develop enough of the basics and can find the right place willing to continue my training I can be a valuable asset. I am happy and willing to be taught, and I feel that the right employer will see that as a plus. 


Thank you everyone so much for your responses. I am very much looking forward to continuing to learn. 

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As you may have deduced, PF is pretty uniformly held in low esteem by longtime, repeat offending , forum members.

We all come here because we are eager to solve problems and help, sadly this does not appear to

be the driving mindset at PF, as evidenced by slow to no response from "instructors", dated and inaccurate

study materials.

I have zero personal experience with PF, but have been watching ReMark's amazing ability and selflessnes

(with utter incredulity) to interact

with their students, and help them for something like 10 or 11 years since I first discovered the forum.  Mind blowing

generosity ReMark!   :beer:


If you are already in the course, so be it, but go to mycadsite.com, and start

working through the free course there, and you will be way ahead of the learning curve, within a week or two,

at your leisure, whenever you have free time.

There are loads of different disciplines, and it is importan that you get a good

foundation of the arrows available in your Cad quiver.

No telling where you might wind up, so keep your options open, and lay a sound foundation.

You clearly have a lot of different interests, are intelligent and motivated, that is all it takes.

Get your foot in a door, and a good interviewer will recognize that.

A PF certificate won't hurt, but you have been gifted with something

much more valuable than that.

I look forward to hearing how things go for you, and what your reaction to mycadsite.com will be.


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Thank you everyone again! It is wonderful just knowing that there are others out there willing to listen and offer advice and still interested in helping their fellow man to succeed. 

I am absolutely going to be using mycadsite.com

In that regard however, do you know of alternative ways to have affordable access to AutoCad for learning purposes? Because at this point in time I am still able to cancel my PF program as I am paying month to month and I can actually cancel at any time. But like I said the cost of the course was less than the cost of a year's subscription to AutoCad on my own, hence the reason why I chose to go that route. 

But if there is a way I can get affordable access to AutoCad and use a better platform to learn I would be very open to that!

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Well, you could always inquire at your local community college as they may offer both basic and advanced AutoCAD classes.

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Yes, I checked with both our community college and our technical school, and the courses that they offer would require in person attendance half days, 5 days a week, for something like 15 months I believe. And my employment/family situation simply does not allow for me to commit to that. So that was why I had decided on the PF online option. 

I am fine with just getting creative with the problem solving and attacking it from as many different places as possible. PF+mycadsite+youtube can surely yield a positive answer 😄

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I've taken three AutoCAD courses at a local community college each of which lasted 12 weeks.  That was in the span of one and a half years.  They met twice a week, at night, from 5 pm to 10 pm.  They also had day classes as well but I was working full-time during the day so that was not an option.

Edited by ReMark
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  • 4 weeks later...
31 minutes ago, Edgarjr_11 said:

When looking ay the penn foster autocad course overview it says I will have access to Autocad for 3 years but how do I access it


Go to the link below and click the "How it Works" button to watch a video that explains it.


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