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Career profile Mechanical Drafter

Also known as CAD Designer (Computer Aided Design Designer), CAD Operator (Computer Aided Design Operator), Design Drafter, Drafter, Drafting Technician, Mechanical Designer, Mechanical Drafter, Product Designer, Project Designer

Mechanical Drafter

Also known as CAD Designer (Computer Aided Design Designer), CAD Operator (Computer Aided Design Operator), Design Drafter

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Conventional
Pay Range
$37,100 - $92,410 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Mathematics
Knowledge Areas
  • Design
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Mechanical
Core tasks
  • Develop detailed design drawings and specifications for mechanical equipment, dies, tools, and controls, using computer-assisted drafting (CAD) equipment.
  • Produce three-dimensional models, using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
  • Lay out and draw schematic, orthographic, or angle views to depict functional relationships of components, assemblies, systems, and machines.
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What does a Mechanical Drafter do?

Mechanical Drafters prepare detailed working diagrams of machinery and mechanical devices, including dimensions, fastening methods, and other engineering information.

What kind of tasks does a Mechanical Drafter perform regularly?

Mechanical Drafters are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Develop detailed design drawings and specifications for mechanical equipment, dies, tools, and controls, using computer-assisted drafting (CAD) equipment.
  • Produce three-dimensional models, using computer-aided design (CAD) software.
  • Lay out and draw schematic, orthographic, or angle views to depict functional relationships of components, assemblies, systems, and machines.
  • Modify and revise designs to correct operating deficiencies or to reduce production problems.
  • Review and analyze specifications, sketches, drawings, ideas, and related data to assess factors affecting component designs and the procedures and instructions to be followed.
  • Check dimensions of materials to be used and assign numbers to the materials.
  • Design scale or full-size blueprints of specialty items, such as furniture and automobile body or chassis components.
  • Compute mathematical formulas to develop and design detailed specifications for components or machinery, using computer-assisted equipment.
  • Coordinate with and consult other workers to design, lay out, or detail components and systems and to resolve design or other problems.
  • Confer with customer representatives to review schematics and answer questions pertaining to installation of systems.
  • Position instructions and comments onto drawings.
  • Supervise and train other drafters, technologists, and technicians.
  • Lay out, draw, and reproduce illustrations for reference manuals and technical publications to describe operation and maintenance of mechanical systems.
  • Draw freehand sketches of designs, trace finished drawings onto designated paper for the reproduction of blueprints, and reproduce working drawings on copy machines.

The above responsibilities are specific to Mechanical Drafters. More generally, Mechanical Drafters are involved in several broader types of activities:

Working with Computers
Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
Drafting, Laying Out, and Specifying Technical Devices, Parts, and Equipment
Providing documentation, detailed instructions, drawings, or specifications to tell others about how devices, parts, equipment, or structures are to be fabricated, constructed, assembled, modified, maintained, or used.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Thinking Creatively
Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

What is a Mechanical Drafter salary?

The median salary for a Mechanical Drafter is $58,270, and the average salary is $61,490. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Mechanical Drafter salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Mechanical Drafters earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Mechanical Drafters earn less than $37,100 per year, 25% earn less than $46,150, 75% earn less than $73,700, and 90% earn less than $92,410.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Mechanical Drafters is expected to change by -4.9%, and there should be roughly 4,700 open positions for Mechanical Drafters every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$37,100 - $92,410
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Mechanical Drafters?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Mechanical Drafter are usually higher in their Realistic, Investigative, and Conventional interests.

Mechanical Drafters typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Mechanical Drafters typically have moderate Investigative interests. Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.

Lastly, Mechanical Drafters typically have moderate Conventional interests. Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Mechanical Drafter tend to value Support, Working Conditions, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Mechanical Drafters strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Mechanical Drafters moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Lastly, Mechanical Drafters moderately value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Mechanical Drafters must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, analytical thinking, and dependability.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Mechanical Drafters, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Analytical Thinking
Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being honest and ethical.
Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.

What education and training do Mechanical Drafters need?

Mechanical Drafters often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

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 this occupation.

Educational degrees among Mechanical Drafters

  • 1.5% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 10.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 23.6% completed some college coursework
  • 33.0% earned a Associate's degree
  • 24.1% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 5.5% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.7% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Mechanical Drafters

Mechanical Drafters may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as design, engineering and technology, or mechanical knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Mechanical Drafters might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

Important Abilities needed by Mechanical Drafters

Mechanical Drafters must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Mechanical Drafters need abilities such as near vision, mathematical reasoning, and visualization in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Mechanical Drafters, ranked by their relative importance.

Near Vision
The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Mathematical Reasoning
The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.

Critical Skills needed by Mechanical Drafters

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Mechanical Drafters frequently use skills like reading comprehension, active listening, and mathematics to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Mechanical Drafters, ranked by their relative importance.

Reading Comprehension
Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work-related documents.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Using mathematics to solve problems.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Active Learning
Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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