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Mechanical Drafters



Schools and Education

What's Needed:

  • An associate degree is typically required for employment and are often available from a community college or vocational school.
  • Many go on to earning a bachelor or graduate degree in the field. Holders of these more advanced degrees can work as skilled mechanical drafting technologists or applied engineers and may earn substantially more than mechanical drafters.

What you study:

Prospective mechanical drafters must study a range of mathematical and applied-science subjects. These include:

  • Trigonometry and geometry
  • Advanced algebra
  • Basic physics
  • Basic computer science

To prepare for these math-intensive classes aspiring workers should begin to take challenging math and science courses in high school.

What courses you'll take

Below are examples of courses that you'll likely take as a mechanical drafting student.

Introduction to Technical DraftingTheory and principles of drafting; terminology used in the field including technical size and shape descriptions; types of views (angles at which an object is represented); lettering; basic dimensioning (calculating the three-dimensional space occupied by an object); geometric construction (accurate representation of shapes); proper use of drafting equipment.Introduce students to core concepts standards and tools used in drafting.
Descriptive GeometryMathematics of points lines planes (flat surfaces) and three-dimensional shapes; accurate representation of three-dimensional objects in two dimensions; mathematical relationships among geometric elements including parallelism and perpendicularity (intersections among lines and planes); visual proofs of geometric theorems.Give understanding of the math that underlies technical drawings.
Blueprint ReadingInterpretation of technical drawings including terms and symbols; standards and specifications used in the construction and fabrication industries; fundamentals of sketching; creating multi-view drawings (images that represent an object from multiple angles from the outside in cutaway and in deconstructed form).Enable students to read and understand technical blueprints.
Computer-Aided DraftingCreation of two-dimensional and three-dimensional objects in AutoCAD software; moving rotating scaling and modifying digital shapes; use of the software's programming language to automate tasks and create interactive simulations; development and use of digital prototypes; extraction and presentation of data generated by CAD simulations.Prepare students to create digital models of their designs.
Machine Drafting and DesignPrinciples and concepts used in mechanical drafting including detail and section drawings (drawings that focus on a specific part of the machine) and assembly drawings (drawings that show how parts fit and function in relation to one another); proper drafting of components such as including threads (ridges around screws and other rotating elements) gears and fasteners; tolerances (maximum stress that can be placed on a part) and limit dimensioning (minimum and maximum size of a part).Ready students to design mechanical components.

Video Overview

A quick intro into the work of mechanical drafters. Created for the US Dept. of Labor.

Certifications and Licensing

Mechanical drafters are not typically required to obtain special certifications or licenses to practice their profession. However the American Design Drafting Association offers a "Drafter Certification Examination" that many drafting-school graduates choose to take. Those who pass this exam are highly-regarded within the industry and may command higher earnings than their non-certified peers. In addition virtually all mechanical drafters must be familiar with Computer-Aided Drafting and Design software. As such those who have successfully passed CADD certification courses may enjoy similar salary and job-flexibility benefits.

Job Flexibility

Full-time versus part-time:

Mechanical drafting technicians generally work in industrial settings on a full-time basis. Some work in dedicated design studios that keep regular weekday business hours. Others work in production facilities that may be open around the clock. Most of their work takes place on-site: Very few mechanical drafters have the luxury of working from home. However most also keep regular hours. Even those who work at round-the-clock facilities rarely work deep into these factories' second or third shifts.

Recommended Websites

The following websites may be useful for those interested in becoming mechanical drafting technicians:

  • American Design Drafting Association — Originally founded in the mid-20th century to represent the interests of pipe-fitters who worked in the energy industry the ADDA has expanded its membership rolls to include tens of thousands of drafters designers and engineers. Its website offers primers on the drafting industry and provides detailed information about drafters' earnings job duties and educational requirements. The ADDA also directs prospective drafters to certification examinations and state drafting associations.
  • O-Net Online — As an offshoot of the American Job Center Network O-Net is a one-stop encyclopedia for prospective mechanical drafters. Its resources include an exhaustive and useful list of alternate job titles and probable career fields as well as an overview of the tools skills and knowledge groups that successful drafters may use. To paint a comprehensive picture of the mechanical drafting profession O-Net ranks all of these tools skills and knowledge groups according to their relative importance in the field.
  • U.S. Department of Labor — The government-run Bureau of Labor Statistics provides key statistics regarding annual earnings job growth and geographical employment levels for prospective mechanical drafting technicians. It also paints a comprehensive picture of mechanical drafters' work environments job duties and work-life balances.

Salaries by City

See typical salaries and ranges for this career below Shift click to sort by more than one column — for example first shift-click on state and then shift-click on salary to find best and worst salaries in each state.

StateCity / RegionTypical SalarySalary RangeJob Count% of All Jobs
AKAnchorage$71050$48K – $112K1100.06%
ALBirmingham – Hoover$46940$27K – $88K1900.04%
ALFlorence – Muscle Shoals$28370$22K – $55K400.07%
ALHuntsville$55960$33K – $90K1600.08%
ALMobile$76560$41K – $93K800.05%
ALMontgomery$46980$35K – $58K300.02%
ARFayetteville – Springdale – Rogers$54990$38K – $72K800.04%
ARFort Smith$42880$29K – $58K600.06%
ARLittle Rock – North Little Rock – Conway$58290$30K – $76K1000.03%
AZPhoenix – Mesa – Glendale$54930$33K – $82K6700.04%
AZTucson$48680$39K – $93K1100.03%
CABakersfield – Delano$56780$39K – $83K800.03%
CAFresno$40620$23K – $63K800.03%
CALos Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area)$51350$31K – $83K11500.03%
CAModesto$48410$34K – $93K400.03%
CAOakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area)$69340$39K – $131K2400.02%
CAOxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura$46240$22K – $91K1300.04%
CARiverside – San Bernardino – Ontario$57290$36K – $82K3100.03%
CASacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville$55260$36K – $72K1600.02%
CASan Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos$51510$38K – $84K3500.03%
CASan Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area)$53370$39K – $87K1600.02%
CASan Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara$64020$43K – $92K5400.06%
CASan Luis Obispo – Paso Robles$48480$37K – $60K400.04%
CASanta Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area)$52820$36K – $84K5300.04%
CASanta Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta$57280$36K – $100KN/AN/A
CAStockton$45100$39K – $65K800.04%
CAVallejo – Fairfield$57050$35K – $122K500.04%
CAVisalia – Porterville$41570$33K – $58K600.04%
COBoulder$59620$40K – $90K300.02%
COColorado Springs$45260$34K – $70K1600.07%
CODenver – Aurora – Broomfield$56790$37K – $89K6000.05%
COFort Collins – Loveland$56300$35K – $77K900.07%
COGreeley$46310$36K – $62K400.05%
CTBridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk$49720$36K – $75K1800.04%
CTDanbury$61650$34K – $90K700.10%
CTHartford – West Hartford – East Hartford$55250$39K – $74K5000.09%
CTNew Haven$50780$23K – $73K1500.06%
CTNorwich – New London$53310$38K – $89KN/AN/A
DCWashington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area)$54500$30K – $85K6200.03%
DEWilmington (Metro Area)$53420$29K – $77K1400.04%
FLCape Coral – Fort Myers$41980$28K – $63K400.02%
FLDeltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach$38570$31K – $66K300.02%
FLFort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area)$45090$33K – $73K1400.02%
FLJacksonville$49510$32K – $75K1000.02%
FLMiami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area)$57160$40K – $89K2300.02%
FLNorth Port – Bradenton – Sarasota$49160$34K – $77K900.04%
FLOrlando – Kissimmee – Sanford$44790$31K – $72K3300.03%
FLPalm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville$53930$40K – $77K1300.07%
FLPensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent$41270$26K – $78K600.04%
FLTampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater$52900$37K – $67K2200.02%
FLWest Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area)$63930$38K – $82K500.01%
GAAtlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta$50350$34K – $77K7100.03%
GAAugusta – Richmond County$42750$31K – $59K1100.05%
GAMacon$51190$32K – $61K300.04%
HIHonolulu$58310$43K – $82K600.01%
IACedar Rapids$43990$30K – $61K600.04%
IADavenport – Moline – Rock Island$44440$33K – $68K1500.08%
IADes Moines – West Des Moines$44850$35K – $61K900.03%
IASioux City$40590$31K – $59K400.06%
IAWaterloo – Cedar Falls$37840$27K – $59K800.09%
IDBoise City – Nampa$44350$27K – $72K2000.08%
IDCoeur d'Alene ID$38080$32K – $53K400.07%
ILChicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area)$51040$34K – $74K9900.03%
ILDecatur$41670$23K – $68K400.08%
ILLake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area)$48380$35K – $72K1500.04%
ILPeoria$46780$36K – $76K700.04%
ILRockford$53360$39K – $73K1700.12%
INColumbus$51000$41K – $61K1600.35%
INElkhart – Goshen$38960$27K – $58K1300.12%
INEvansville$50710$32K – $75K1200.07%
INFort Wayne$38170$26K – $54K900.05%
INGary (Metro Area)$49380$36K – $76K1000.04%
INIndianapolis – Carmel$52820$36K – $72K4500.05%
INMuncie$47200$32K – $59K500.12%
INSouth Bend – Mishawaka$44570$32K – $61K800.06%
KSTopeka$45740$32K – $59K300.03%
KSWichita$60440$34K – $90K3400.12%
KYLexington – Fayette$47460$33K – $67K1300.05%
KYLouisville – Jefferson County$46550$32K – $75K2900.05%
LAAlexandria$44150$33K – $74K400.06%
LABaton Rouge$58580$32K – $106K2700.08%
LAHouma – Bayou Cane – Thibodaux$40340$32K – $57K700.08%
LALafayette$49280$34K – $69K1100.07%
LALake Charles$72040$41K – $113KN/AN/A
LAMonroe$53890$39K – $85K500.07%
LANew Orleans – Metairie – Kenner$60540$38K – $94K2600.05%
MABoston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area)$64840$35K – $91K4400.03%
MABrockton – Bridgewater – Easton (Metro Area)$61300$31K – $76K400.05%
MAFramingham (Metro Area)$49550$39K – $97K500.03%
MAHaverhill – North Andover – Amesbury (Metro Area)$54570$38K – $93K800.10%
MALowell – Billerica – Chelmsford (Metro Area)$51890$34K – $85K500.05%
MANew Bedford$60110$28K – $86K300.05%
MAPeabody (Metro Area)$83960$65K – $94K800.08%
MASpringfield$55570$32K – $78K1400.05%
MAWorcester$55870$36K – $86K800.03%
MDBaltimore – Towson$52160$33K – $83K5500.04%
MDBethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area)$49550$36K – $86K600.01%
MDHagerstown – Martinsburg$54080$37K – $80KN/AN/A
MEPortland – South Portland – Biddeford$50560$32K -align="center">$34K – $73K1100.06%
MIBattle Creek$40910$30K – $75KN/AN/A
MIDetroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area)$52400$34K – $80K6400.09%
MIGrand Rapids – Wyoming$46390$33K – $61K7400.19%
MIHolland – Grand Haven$43860$23K – $58K1700.17%
MIJackson$37580$32K – $56KN/AN/A
MIKalamazoo – Portage$45180$31K – $66K800.06%
MILansing – East Lansing$42460$27K – $58K1100.06%
MIMuskegon – Norton Shores$50140$32K – $60K700.13%
MINiles – Benton Harbor$44120$33K – $74K1000.18%
MISaginaw – Saginaw Township North$50390$35K – $62K700.08%
MIWarren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area)$51330$34K – $72K13700.13%
MNDuluth$45500$37K – $62K600.05%
MNMankato – North Mankato$41360$32K – $67K400.08%
MNMinneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington$57540$41K – $81K21400.12%
MNSt. Cloud$44430$33K – $61K700.08%
MOKansas City$45210$32K – $64K5000.05%

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