Mechanical Drafting and Design - CAD

Learn about the professional duties, employment outlook and salary for those working in the field of mechanical drafting and design. Get info about careers in computer-aided design (CAD).

Is Mechanical Drafting and Design for Me?

Career Overview

Mechanical drafting and design workers, also known as draftsmen, CADD operators or AutoCAD designers, use computer-aided design (CAD) software to prepare technical plans and drawings. These programs allow you to save or print your work for future reference. You can even input your work into a main manufacturing system for the production of products or devices. Formal training in mechanical drafting and design is usually required to obtain a job in the field.

Professional Duties

As a mechanical drafting and design specialist, you'll use computer-based and hand-drawn techniques to illustrate the construction and mechanized aspects of devices, equipment and tools. These drawings will detail the measurements and other specifications used in products and machinery.

Career Options

Many employers prefer candidates with formal academic training, preferably in drafting. As a graduate of a mechanical drafting technology program, you may begin work as a detail drafter. You might also work in the department of engineering at a product development and manufacturing plant. Other opportunities may be found at engineering companies, electro-mechanical firms or manufacturing facilities. After you've acquired some experience, you might qualify for a position as an assistant engineer.

Employment and Salary Information

Nationwide, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has projected a 5% decline in employment of mechanical drafters from 2012-2022. Large manufacturing areas may offer the best opportunities, especially for mechanical drafters who are skilled in the use of building information modeling (BIM) and product data management (PDM) applications. As of May 2013, mechanical drafters earned an average annual wage of $54,510, noted the BLS (www.bls.gov).

How Do I Work in Mechanical Drafting and Design?

Education

Undergraduate certificate and degree programs, such as an associate degree in mechanical computer-aided design or an associate degree in mechanical drafting, are commonly available. You can find these types of programs at community and technical colleges. In addition to training in CAD, course topics might include the study of manufacturing materials, engineering processes, sketching and production techniques. Online mechanical drafting programs are also available.

Certifications

The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) offers voluntary certifications for drafters (www.adda.org). Be prepared to complete and pass an exam, after which you'll be awarded the Certified Design Drafter designation with a specialization in mechanical drafting.

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