Mechanical drafters create design drawings and specifications for mechanical equipment, controls, dies and tools using computer-assisted drafting (CAD) equipment. They draw orthographic, schematic or angle views to represent functional relationships of assemblies, components, systems and machines. Mechanical drafters coordinate and consult with others to design or detail components and systems and to resolve design or other problems.
Mechanical drafters also review and analyze sketches, specifications, drawings, ideas and related data to determine factors affecting component designs and the procedures and instructions to be followed. They might adjust and review designs to correct operating deficiencies or to reduce production problems. They also calculate mathematical formulas to design detailed specifications for components or machinery using computer-assisted equipment.
Mechanical drafters must be skilled in drafting, laying out and specifying technical devices, parts and equipment. They must provide detailed instructions, documentation, specifications or drawings explaining how devices, parts, equipment or structures are to be created, assembled, modified or maintained.
- Mechanical drafters place instructions and comments onto drawings.
- They design, draw and reproduce illustrations for reference manuals and technical publications to describe operation and maintenance of mechanical systems.
- Mechanical drafters create blueprints of specialty items such as furniture and automobile body or chassis components.
- They should possess thorough knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics and additional applications.
Work Environment for Mechanical Drafters
Employment as a mechanical drafter offers job security and good working conditions. Mechanical drafters use computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Education, Training and Licensing
Many mechanical drafters have a bachelor’s degree, training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience or an associate’s degree. A great deal of work-related skill, experience and knowledge is required for this occupation.
Mechanical drafters usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Mechanical drafters held 71,890 jobs in May 2009, according to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most mechanical drafters worked as a designer, drafter, installation drafter, design drafter, mechanical designer, CAD designer (Computer Aided Design), CAD operator (Computer Aided Design), CAD/CAM specialist (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacturing Specialist) or project designer.
The Occupational Information Network (ONET) expects employment in this field to possibly increase 2% from 2008 to 2018, which is slower than the average for all occupations.
BLS reports indicate that the median annual wage for salaried public relations specialists was $47,790 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $37,840 and $59,740. While the lowest 10% had an annual income at or below $30,640, the top 10% earned upwards of $73,050 per year.