Mechanical drafters produce detailed plans, drawings and diagrams for mechanical and machinery devices. They also provide information such as the dimensions for fabrication and assembly, fastening methods and material specifications.
Mechanical drafters need to have a broad-based understanding of design techniques and the principles involved in producing technical plans, models and drawings. They must be knowledgeable in the practical application of engineering science and technology. In addition, they need to be proficient with computer-aided design and drafting (CADD) systems.
Mechanical drafters benefit by having good near vision and good verbal communication skills. Part of their work also includes visualizing how objects and assemblies are going to appear after they have been altered or rearranged.
- Produce detailed design drawings and specify technical devices, equipment and parts. Provide detailed instructions and documentation regarding the fabrication, construction, assembling, usage or modification of equipment, devices and parts.
- Produce schematics which show the functional relationships of various components, systems, assemblies and machines.
- Coordinate and confer with co-workers and associates in order to design, layout and detail components and systems.
- Consult with project team members to resolve design problems.
- Evaluate and assess factors related to component designs.
- Modify designs.
- Examine information and evaluate results in order to solve problems and select the best solution.
- Process information and verify data.
- Determine if processes abide by regulations, laws or standards.
- Review drawing and schematics with customers and answer questions regarding system installations.
Drafters usually work in comfortable environments. The majority of their time is spent at computer terminals performing detailed work. Mechanical ability, mathematical skills, and identifying the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions are important skills for the profession. Visual aptitude and being detailed oriented are also important factors. In addition, good communication skills are helpful due to working with engineers, architects and other professionals.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, projects the growth rate for drafters in general will be about 6% from 2006 to 2016, which is a slower rate than the average for all occupations. Employment opportunities for drafters may increase due to industrial growth and also by drafters handling procedures typically given to engineers and architects. However, improvements in CADD systems make simple procedures easier to complete which may decrease the demand for lower skilled drafters since these tasks can be completed by other technical professionals.
Outsourcing of mechanical drafting work may rise due to the Internet providing the opportunity of sending CADD files to workers abroad. Mechanical along with civil drafters are projected to see the highest demand in the profession. In addition, mechanical drafters, with solid technical skills, who have at least two years of post-secondary training and have experience with CADD systems are projected to have the best employment opportunities. In addition, the demand for mechanical drafters mainly comes from industries that have a sensitivity to the cyclical changes of the economy.
About 30% of all drafting jobs are held by mechanical drafters. According to government statistics, there were approximately 74,000 mechanical drafters employed in 2007. Also, in 2007 the mean hourly pay was $22.45 and the mean annual wage was $46,690.
Mechanical Drafting Training, Certification, and Licensing
Mechanical drafters need to be very proficient at drafting and design and have expertise with CADD systems. Training is offered by community colleges, technical schools and by the armed forces. Students may earn a two-year associate degrees in drafting. The quality of training offered in these settings may vary.
Degrees in drafting are not available at most four-year colleges. However, many of the colleges offer CADD classes in their architecture, engineering and computer science programs. Also, the non-CADD coursework included in these programs are useful in the profession. In addition, the American Design Drafting Association offers a certification program for drafters. Students interested in a mechanical drafting career may want to contact prospective employers and ask for a list of the schools they prefer.
- Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology
- American Design Drafting Association
Some of the major employers are engineering firms, architectural firms and major manufactures such as automobile companies and semiconductor firms.
Schools for Mechanical Drafters are listed in the Browse Schools Section.