Mechanical Drafters

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Mechanical Drafters

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.

Course Studies Purpose
Introduction to Technical Drafting Theory 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 Geometry Mathematics 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 Reading Interpretation 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 Drafting Creation 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 Design Principles 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.

State City / Region Typical Salary Salary Range Job Count % of All Jobs
AK Anchorage $71050 $48K – $112K 110 0.06%
AL Birmingham – Hoover $46940 $27K – $88K 190 0.04%
AL Florence – Muscle Shoals $28370 $22K – $55K 40 0.07%
AL Huntsville $55960 $33K – $90K 160 0.08%
AL Mobile $76560 $41K – $93K 80 0.05%
AL Montgomery $46980 $35K – $58K 30 0.02%
AR Fayetteville – Springdale – Rogers $54990 $38K – $72K 80 0.04%
AR Fort Smith $42880 $29K – $58K 60 0.06%
AR Little Rock – North Little Rock – Conway $58290 $30K – $76K 100 0.03%
AZ Phoenix – Mesa – Glendale $54930 $33K – $82K 670 0.04%
AZ Tucson $48680 $39K – $93K 110 0.03%
CA Bakersfield – Delano $56780 $39K – $83K 80 0.03%
CA Fresno $40620 $23K – $63K 80 0.03%
CA Los Angeles – Long Beach – Glendale (Metro Area) $51350 $31K – $83K 1150 0.03%
CA Modesto $48410 $34K – $93K 40 0.03%
CA Oakland – Fremont – Hayward (Metro Area) $69340 $39K – $131K 240 0.02%
CA Oxnard – Thousand Oaks – Ventura $46240 $22K – $91K 130 0.04%
CA Riverside – San Bernardino – Ontario $57290 $36K – $82K 310 0.03%
CA Sacramento – Arden – Arcade – Roseville $55260 $36K – $72K 160 0.02%
CA San Diego – Carlsbad – San Marcos $51510 $38K – $84K 350 0.03%
CA San Francisco – San Mateo – Redwood City (Metro Area) $53370 $39K – $87K 160 0.02%
CA San Jose – Sunnyvale – Santa Clara $64020 $43K – $92K 540 0.06%
CA San Luis Obispo – Paso Robles $48480 $37K – $60K 40 0.04%
CA Santa Ana – Anaheim – Irvine (Metro Area) $52820 $36K – $84K 530 0.04%
CA Santa Barbara – Santa Maria – Goleta $57280 $36K – $100K N/A N/A
CA Stockton $45100 $39K – $65K 80 0.04%
CA Vallejo – Fairfield $57050 $35K – $122K 50 0.04%
CA Visalia – Porterville $41570 $33K – $58K 60 0.04%
CO Boulder $59620 $40K – $90K 30 0.02%
CO Colorado Springs $45260 $34K – $70K 160 0.07%
CO Denver – Aurora – Broomfield $56790 $37K – $89K 600 0.05%
CO Fort Collins – Loveland $56300 $35K – $77K 90 0.07%
CO Greeley $46310 $36K – $62K 40 0.05%
CT Bridgeport – Stamford – Norwalk $49720 $36K – $75K 180 0.04%
CT Danbury $61650 $34K – $90K 70 0.10%
CT Hartford – West Hartford – East Hartford $55250 $39K – $74K 500 0.09%
CT New Haven $50780 $23K – $73K 150 0.06%
CT Norwich – New London $53310 $38K – $89K N/A N/A
DC Washington – Arlington – Alexandria (Metro Area) $54500 $30K – $85K 620 0.03%
DE Wilmington (Metro Area) $53420 $29K – $77K 140 0.04%
FL Cape Coral – Fort Myers $41980 $28K – $63K 40 0.02%
FL Deltona – Daytona Beach – Ormond Beach $38570 $31K – $66K 30 0.02%
FL Fort Lauderdale – Pompano Beach – Deerfield Beach (Metro Area) $45090 $33K – $73K 140 0.02%
FL Jacksonville $49510 $32K – $75K 100 0.02%
FL Miami – Miami Beach – Kendall (Metro Area) $57160 $40K – $89K 230 0.02%
FL North Port – Bradenton – Sarasota $49160 $34K – $77K 90 0.04%
FL Orlando – Kissimmee – Sanford $44790 $31K – $72K 330 0.03%
FL Palm Bay – Melbourne – Titusville $53930 $40K – $77K 130 0.07%
FL Pensacola – Ferry Pass – Brent $41270 $26K – $78K 60 0.04%
FL Tampa – St. Petersburg – Clearwater $52900 $37K – $67K 220 0.02%
FL West Palm Beach – Boca Raton – Boynton Beach (Metro Area) $63930 $38K – $82K 50 0.01%
GA Atlanta – Sandy Springs – Marietta $50350 $34K – $77K 710 0.03%
GA Augusta – Richmond County $42750 $31K – $59K 110 0.05%
GA Macon $51190 $32K – $61K 30 0.04%
HI Honolulu $58310 $43K – $82K 60 0.01%
IA Cedar Rapids $43990 $30K – $61K 60 0.04%
IA Davenport – Moline – Rock Island $44440 $33K – $68K 150 0.08%
IA Des Moines – West Des Moines $44850 $35K – $61K 90 0.03%
IA Sioux City $40590 $31K – $59K 40 0.06%
IA Waterloo – Cedar Falls $37840 $27K – $59K 80 0.09%
ID Boise City – Nampa $44350 $27K – $72K 200 0.08%
ID Coeur d’Alene ID $38080 $32K – $53K 40 0.07%
IL Chicago – Joliet – Naperville (Metro Area) $51040 $34K – $74K 990 0.03%
IL Decatur $41670 $23K – $68K 40 0.08%
IL Lake County – Kenosha County (Metro Area) $48380 $35K – $72K 150 0.04%
IL Peoria $46780 $36K – $76K 70 0.04%
IL Rockford $53360 $39K – $73K 170 0.12%
IN Columbus $51000 $41K – $61K 160 0.35%
IN Elkhart – Goshen $38960 $27K – $58K 130 0.12%
IN Evansville $50710 $32K – $75K 120 0.07%
IN Fort Wayne $38170 $26K – $54K 90 0.05%
IN Gary (Metro Area) $49380 $36K – $76K 100 0.04%
IN Indianapolis – Carmel $52820 $36K – $72K 450 0.05%
IN Muncie $47200 $32K – $59K 50 0.12%
IN South Bend – Mishawaka $44570 $32K – $61K 80 0.06%
KS Topeka $45740 $32K – $59K 30 0.03%
KS Wichita $60440 $34K – $90K 340 0.12%
KY Lexington – Fayette $47460 $33K – $67K 130 0.05%
KY Louisville – Jefferson County $46550 $32K – $75K 290 0.05%
LA Alexandria $44150 $33K – $74K 40 0.06%
LA Baton Rouge $58580 $32K – $106K 270 0.08%
LA Houma – Bayou Cane – Thibodaux $40340 $32K – $57K 70 0.08%
LA Lafayette $49280 $34K – $69K 110 0.07%
LA Lake Charles $72040 $41K – $113K N/A N/A
LA Monroe $53890 $39K – $85K 50 0.07%
LA New Orleans – Metairie – Kenner $60540 $38K – $94K 260 0.05%
MA Boston – Cambridge – Quincy (Metro Area) $64840 $35K – $91K 440 0.03%
MA Brockton – Bridgewater – Easton (Metro Area) $61300 $31K – $76K 40 0.05%
MA Framingham (Metro Area) $49550 $39K – $97K 50 0.03%
MA Haverhill – North Andover – Amesbury (Metro Area) $54570 $38K – $93K 80 0.10%
MA Lowell – Billerica – Chelmsford (Metro Area) $51890 $34K – $85K 50 0.05%
MA New Bedford $60110 $28K – $86K 30 0.05%
MA Peabody (Metro Area) $83960 $65K – $94K 80 0.08%
MA Springfield $55570 $32K – $78K 140 0.05%
MA Worcester $55870 $36K – $86K 80 0.03%
MD Baltimore – Towson $52160 $33K – $83K 550 0.04%
MD Bethesda – Rockville – Frederick (Metro Area) $49550 $36K – $86K 60 0.01%
MD Hagerstown – Martinsburg $54080 $37K – $80K N/A N/A
ME Portland – South Portland – Biddeford $50560 $32K -align=”center”>$34K – $73K 110 0.06%
MI Battle Creek $40910 $30K – $75K N/A N/A
MI Detroit – Livonia – Dearborn (Metro Area) $52400 $34K – $80K 640 0.09%
MI Grand Rapids – Wyoming $46390 $33K – $61K 740 0.19%
MI Holland – Grand Haven $43860 $23K – $58K 170 0.17%
MI Jackson $37580 $32K – $56K N/A N/A
MI Kalamazoo – Portage $45180 $31K – $66K 80 0.06%
MI Lansing – East Lansing $42460 $27K – $58K 110 0.06%
MI Muskegon – Norton Shores $50140 $32K – $60K 70 0.13%
MI Niles – Benton Harbor $44120 $33K – $74K 100 0.18%
MI Saginaw – Saginaw Township North $50390 $35K – $62K 70 0.08%
MI Warren – Troy – Farmington Hills (Metro Area) $51330 $34K – $72K 1370 0.13%
MN Duluth $45500 $37K – $62K 60 0.05%
MN Mankato – North Mankato $41360 $32K – $67K 40 0.08%
MN Minneapolis – St. Paul – Bloomington $57540 $41K – $81K 2140 0.12%
MN St. Cloud $44430 $33K – $61K 70 0.08%
MO Kansas City $45210 $32K – $64K 500 0.05%
MO Springfield $42640 $30K – $58K 110 0.06%
MO St. Joseph $44760 $34K – $63K 40 0.08%
MO St. Louis $51190 $34K – $78K 600 0.05%
MS Gulfport – Biloxi $33730 $24K – $58K 30 0.03%
MS Jackson $41380 $23K – $49K 60 0.02%
NC Asheville $51680 $37K – $67K 100 0.06%
NC Charlotte – Gastonia – Rock Hill $48910 $31K – $74K 320 0.04%
NC Durham – Chapel Hill $44670 $33K – $68K 60 0.02%
NC Greensboro – High Point $46360 $33K – $60K 160 0.05%
NC Hickory – Lenoir – Morganton $41740 $28K – $60K 60 0.04%
NC Raleigh – Cary $46460 $31K – $70K 170 0.03%
NC Wilmington $65320 $32K – $80K 40 0.03%
NC Winston – Salem $56120 $41K – $75K 60 0.03%
ND Fargo $42400 $28K – $66K 130 0.11%
ND Grand Forks $41790 $28K – $60K 60 0.13%
NE Lincoln $40240 $29K – $49K 110 0.07%
NE Omaha – Council Bluffs $48580 $35K – $70K 150 0.03%
NH Manchester $55860 $38K – $72K 60 0.06%
NH Nashua (Metro Area) $54810 $41K – $75K 60 0.05%
NJ Camden (Metro Area) $55560 $35K – $90K 220 0.04%
NJ Edison – New Brunswick (Metro Area) $61700 $40K – $96K 330 0.03%
NJ Newark – Union (Metro Area) $51370 $35K – $99K 400 0.04%
NJ Trenton – Ewing $71180 $38K – $107K 40 0.02%
NM Albuquerque $56210 $37K – $83K 170 0.05%
NV Las Vegas – Paradise $34530 $25K – $60K 140 0.02%
NV Reno – Sparks $51450 $25K – $161K 40 0.02%
NY Albany – Schenectady – Troy $46330 $33K – $76K 180 0.04%
NY Buffalo – Niagara Falls $49880 $33K – $65K 340 0.06%
NY Elmira $45290 $34K – $65K 50 0.13%
NY Nassau – Suffolk (Metro Area) $65530 $39K – $91K 320 0.03%
NY New York – White Plains – Wayne (Metro Area) $58430 $34K – $103K 1060 0.02%
NY Poughkeepsie – Newburgh – Middletown $50920 $34K – $72K 70 0.03%
NY Rochester $48160 $28K – $77K 210 0.04%
NY Syracuse $48980 $33K – $76K 190 0.06%
NY Utica – Rome $45230 $29K – $67K 60 0.05%
OH Akron $45870 $32K – $72K 190 0.06%
OH Canton – Massillon $44160 $33K – $62K 120 0.07%
OH Cincinnati – Middletown $50220 $31K – $72K 350 0.04%
OH Cleveland – Elyria – Mentor $46150 $31K – $70K 910 0.09%
OH Columbus $42410 $25K – $61K 280 0.03%
OH Dayton $47780 $35K – $67K 230 0.06%
OH Springfield $54090 $27K – $63K 30 0.07%
OH Toledo $45400 $32K – $61K 210 0.07%
OH Youngstown – Warren – Boardman $42040 $27K – $68K 110 0.05%
OK Oklahoma City $47170 $33K – $67K 470 0.08%
OK Tulsa $54460 $34K – $80K 660 0.16%
OR Eugene – Springfield $40360 $29K – $58K 80 0.06%
OR Portland – Vancouver – Hillsboro $51250 $34K – $67K 570 0.06%
OR Salem $46670 $40K – $60K 40 0.03%
PA Allentown – Bethlehem – Easton $51180 $34K – $85K 280 0.08%
PA Erie $38040 $23K – $57K 270 0.21%
PA Harrisburg – Carlisle $52100 $37K – $70K 80 0.03%
PA Johnstown $55640 $30K – $74K 40 0.07%
PA Lancaster $49120 $33K – $61K 160 0.07%
PA Philadelphia (Metro Area) $52620 $34K – $89K 1040 0.06%
PA Pittsburgh $44890 $31K – $70K 1100 0.10%
PA Reading $46680 $31K – $60K 170 0.10%
PA Scranton – Wilkes – Barre $39090 $31K – $65K 210 0.08%
PA State College $38440 $22K – $59K 50 0.07%
PA Williamsport $36850 $27K – $67K 40 0.07%
PA York – Hanover $49920 $32K – $72K 280 0.16%
PR Aguadilla – Isabela – San Sebastian $31840 $26K – $54K 160 0.37%
PR San Juan – Caguas – Guaynabo $24650 $18K – $38K 100 0.01%
RI Providence – Fall River – Warwick $52060 $37K – $62K 220 0.04%
SC Anderson $45050 $32K – $73K 40 0.07%
SC Charleston – North Charleston – Summerville $48110 $17K – $71K 150 0.05%
SC Columbia $43990 $35K – $59K 130 0.04%
SC Florence $45830 $34K – $62K 30 0.04%
SC Greenville – Mauldin – Easley $58880 $43K – $78K 350 0.12%
SC Spartanburg $50470 $20K – $63K 40 0.03%
SD Sioux Falls $36350 $31K – $46K 60 0.05%
TN Chattanooga $49690 $30K – $81K 240 0.10%
TN Clarksville $46420 $37K – $62K 30 0.04%
TN Kingsport – Bristol – Bristol $43840 $32K – $56K 40 0.03%
TN Knoxville $51320 $32K – $71K 160 0.05%
TN Memphis $46780 $33K – $65K 160 0.03%
TN Nashville – Davidson – Murfreesboro – Franklin $47180 $30K – $69K 250 0.03%
TX Austin – Round Rock – San Marcos $49260 $32K – $75K 80 0.01%
TX Beaumont – Port Arthur $51670 $33K – $97K 90 0.06%
TX Brownsville – Harlingen $36500 $28K – $58K 40 0.03%
TX Corpus Christi $55230 $36K – $94K 100 0.05%
TX Dallas – Plano – Irving (Metro Area) $45530 $32K – $87K 820 0.04%
TX Fort Worth – Arlington (Metro Area) $56410 $36K – $76K 800 0.09%
TX Houston – Sugar Land – Baytown $55270 $31K – $94K 1750 0.07%
TX Longview $40810 $31K – $69K 60 0.07%
TX Lubbock $36270 $17K – $68K 30 0.03%
TX Odessa $49310 $33K – $73K 60 0.09%
TX San Antonio – New Braunfels $48660 $31K – $83K 200 0.02%
TX Tyler $102000 $45K – $147K 30 0.03%
TX Victoria $50670 $31K – $113K 40 0.08%
TX Waco $41940 $32K – $55K 30 0.03%
UT Logan $30060 $19K – $76K 30 0.06%
UT Ogden – Clearfield $50640 $26K – $73K 110 0.05%
UT Provo – Orem $46430 $30K – $67K 110 0.06%
UT Salt Lake City $44860 $29K – $73K 240 0.04%
VA Blacksburg – Christiansburg – Radford $48000 $37K – $64K 40 0.06%
VA Harrisonburg $40500 $33K – $49K 40 0.07%
VA Lynchburg $42350 $27K – $62K 70 0.07%
VA Richmond $47660 $19K – $76K 200 0.03%
VA Roanoke $38580 $28K – $62K 50 0.03%
VT Burlington – South Burlington $47990 $41K – $61K 60 0.05%
WA Seattle – Bellevue – Everett (Metro Area) $75930 $51K – $98K 2250 0.16%
WA Spokane $43860 $33K – $74K 110 0.06%
WA Tacoma (Metro Area) $63140 $42K – $105K 80 0.03%
WI Appleton $47320 $33K – $66K 120 0.11%
WI Eau Claire $45980 $34K – $71K 100 0.12%
WI Fond du Lac $46340 $34K – $70K 70 0.16%
WI Green Bay $51630 $33K – $77K 270 0.16%
WI Janesville $44000 $33K – $64K 60 0.09%
WI La Crosse $45330 $35K – $68K 60 0.09%
WI Madison $47320 $28K – $87K 210 0.06%
WI Milwaukee – Waukesha – West Allis $50610 $34K – $77K 910 0.11%
WI Oshkosh – Neenah $44000 $31K – $65K 60 0.07%
WI Racine $47400 $34K – $63K 100 0.14%
WI Wausau $39120 $33K – $52K 120 0.18%
WV Charleston $38500 $27K – $69K 50 0.03%

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