Career Definition for a Mechanical Drafter
Mechanical drafters make detailed drawings, specify design dimensions and construct models of mechanical devices and parts. They work with engineers, manufacturing companies and architects, preparing blueprints and advising on construction methods and materials. Certification from the American Design Drafting Association is possible but not required.
|Education||Associate and bachelor's degrees available|
|Job Skills||Independent work, computer-aided drafting, visual aptitude|
|Median Salary (2017)*||$55,130 for mechanical drafters|
|Job Growth (2016-2026)*||5% for mechanical drafters|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Candidates considering a career as a mechanical drafter should be very selective about the program and school they choose, as the quality of education and school rankings are a factor to employers. Typically a technical institute will offer drafting courses and training with specialized hands-on courses which are not offered at a 4-year university or college. An associate degree program at a liberal arts college has the advantage of feeding more directly into a bachelor's degree; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that many employers will pay for their employees' continuing education.
A 4-year program in the architecture or engineering department at a university will not only offer the necessary computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) classes but also theory, art and engineering courses not available at a technical institute. This educational track may be suited for mechanical drafters who wish to advance in the engineering, technical or architectural fields.
Entry-level drafters spend hours in front of a computer screen working with tedious mathematical drawings and calculations under close supervision long before they are allowed to work independently. Apart from mathematical skills, visual aptitude, knowledge of design materials and fluency in CADD, mechanical drafters are in communication with clients, architects and other professionals who call on them to verify design calculations and determine if a construction process abides by laws and regulations.
Career and Economic Outlook
Mechanical drafters hold fewer than one-third of all drafting jobs. Recent improvements in CADD programs allow employers to send large files abroad via the Internet, which has lowered the demand for mechanical drafters in the United States. According to the BLS, job growth for mechanical drafters was expected to increase by 5% from 2016-2026. The BLS reported the median annual salary for mechanical drafters was $55,130 as of May 2017.
Here are a few other career options in mechanical engineering:
Mechanical Engineering Technician
In addition to drafting the design of mechanical devices, mechanical engineering technicians assist engineers with assembling parts and conducting tests. Compiling post-testing reports and analyzing data are also among the job duties performed. To gain employment, an associate degree or career training in a related engineering field is usually necessary. The BLS predicts a 5% increase in the employment of these professionals during the 2016-2026 decade. As reported by the BLS in May of 2017, mechanical engineering techs earned a median salary of $55,360.
For those who want to be in charge of developing mechanical equipment, a little more specialized education could lead to a position as a mechanical engineer. Mechanical engineers develop the concept for new devices, oversee the design and production of prototypes and analyze test results. A bachelor's degree in engineering is necessary for engineering jobs and a graduate degree is often required for managerial positions. The BLS projected 25,300 additional jobs will be available for mechanical engineers between 2016 and 2026. It also estimated that in 2017, these engineers earned a median salary of $85,880.