Careers in Automotive Drafting and Design: Options and Requirements

Oct 04, 2019

Programs in automotive drafting and design prepare graduates for working in automotive component production. Read on and explore the requirements of these programs and learn about career options, job growth, and salary info for successful graduates in automotive drafting and design.

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Two years of postsecondary study in computer-aided drafting and design, mechanical design, or engineering can qualify graduates to pursue a career in automotive drafting and design. These professionals may help develop system layouts or develop plans for automotive components.

Essential Information

Automotive drafting and design programs develop skills that are essential for graduates to create, study and revise plans for vehicles and their parts. At least a certificate or 2-year degree in computer-aided drafting and design is required to enter the job market in this field. Auto designers must study mechanical engineering or design, and generally need a bachelor's degree to compete for jobs. Both drafters and designers must be strong communicators with a mind for mechanics and attention to detail.

Careers Mechanical Drafter Commercial and Industrial Designer
Education Requirements Associate's degree or certificate in computer-aided drafting and design Associate's degree in mechanical design or engineering and applicable experience
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) -7% (for all mechanical drafters) 3% (for commercial and industrial designers)
Median Salary (2018)* $55,920 (for all mechanical drafters) $66,590 (for commercial and industrial designers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Graduates with degrees in automotive drafting and design are prepared to work in fields that support mechanical engineering. Below are some career options that utilize essential skills learned in automotive drafting and design programs as well as their specific education requirements and salary information.

Mechanical Drafter

Automotive drafters are mechanical drafters who create drawings and plans that provide guidelines, technical details, material names and assembly procedures used to build automotive components as well as cars and similar vehicles. Drafters use CADD software to create electronic drawings that can be easily edited, viewed, stored and programmed into machines. While computers are heavily used in this career, drafters also utilize handbooks, calculators and traditional drafting techniques.


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), automotive drafters commonly need to have some postsecondary education ( Many technical and community colleges offer 2-year degrees and certificates in CADD. Coursework may include architectural and mechanical design, graphics and physics. Drafters may also attend bachelor's degree programs in engineering and math.

Automotive drafters must read blueprints, project costs and calculate materials. Artistic abilities must include accurate detail work, multiple-view creation of a single object and determination of scale. By understanding previous designs and the limitations of manufacturing, automotive drafters can create work more efficiently. They must also have strong mechanical and mathematical abilities. Because they work with design teams and clients, drafters also need strong communication skills.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of May 2018, the median annual income for mechanical drafters was $55,920, the BLS reported. Employment was expected to decline 7% for mechanical drafters from 2018 until 2028.

Commercial and Industrial Designer

An automotive designer, a specific type of commercial and industrial designer, studies drafts and models to create concepts, parts packaging and system layout designs. Designers also check and assess automotive components, take measurements, and create geometric designs. Designers collaborate with engineers to complete service studies and assess manufacturing techniques. They modify and revise designs, drawings, models and samples while evaluating the safety, function and cost. They may work with marketers, customers and other industry professionals to create a finished product.


Automotive designers generally need a postsecondary degree in mechanical design or engineering and experience in the field. Associate's degree programs are available at community colleges. A 4-year degree program in mechanical engineering covers material studies, computer-aided design, math and fluid dynamics. Some universities offer programs that focus on automotive engineering.

Automotive designers must be proficient in a variety of software programs. They need a strong understanding of materials and manufacturing practices to create the most efficient designs. Additionally, they must be able to work well on a team and possess strong communication skills.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As of May 2018, the median annual income for commercial and industrial designers was $66,590, according to the BLS. Employment was expected to increase 3% between 2018 and 2028.

Mechanical drafters and commercial and industrial designers work in the field of automotive drafting and design. These professions require strong technical skills in drawing and computer-aided design, and good communication skills.

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