Before complex mechanical devices are built, mechanical drafters create drawings and blueprints that show how the equipment will be manufactured and assembled. Today, almost all professionals in this field use Computer Aided Design (CAD) software to do such work. Mechanical drafters also specify the materials that must be used and the procedures that should be followed to create the machines they design. Finally, they also often create illustrations for technical manuals.
Individuals who hold at least an associate’s degree in drafting will have the best employment opportunities.
The need for mechanical drafters depends on the local industry. Cities with large manufacturing sectors typically employ many mechanical drafters, while demand in suburban or rural areas is low.
Mechanical drafters usually work in safe, clean, temperature-controlled offices. They do often spend long periods in front of computers doing detailed work, so professionals who are employed in this field may be susceptible to desk job-related health problems such as eyestrain and carpal tunnel syndrome. Mechanical drafters typically work a standard 40-hour week.
Education, Training and Licensing
To start their training, prospective mechanical drafters should study computers, design, graphics, math and science in high school. Because employers prefer applicants who have also completed training at a technical institute, community college, or 4-year college or university, those who want to enter this profession should earn an associate’s degree at minimum.
Completing an associate’s degree program allows graduates to obtain jobs as mechanical drafters or continue their education in a related field at a 4-year college. Most 4-year colleges do not offer training in drafting, but they do offer engineering, architecture, and mathematics bachelor’s programs that can help mechanical drafters take their careers to the next level.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Mechanical drafters held 31% of all drafting jobs in 2008. Their median annual wages were $44,490 at that time, but those at the higher end of the pay scale – meaning those with more education and experience – earned more than $71,000 a year.