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To become a mechanical drafter requires excellent drawing skills, an ability to visualize designs and concepts, and familiarity with Computer-Aided Design and Drawing (CADD) programs. The successful mechanical drafter also has strong math and communication skills, familiarity with drafting standards, plus engineering practices and technology. There are a variety of educational options that can lead to a drafting job, each having their own advantages. At a minimum, most drafters obtain a two-year degree before seeking a job.
While most employers require some post-secondary school training, prospective drafters can take classes in high school that will help to ready them to become a mechanical drafter. Some high schools offer design and drafting classes, as well as science and technology courses that can give future drafters a solid foundation on which to build their knowledge of drafting. Since communicating with engineers and others is an essential part of the drafter's job, classes that will improve your written and spoken language skills will also be advantageous. Some military jobs involve drafting skills which may be transferable to the civilian jobs. Typically though, the veteran with military drafting experience will require additional training to compete in the civilian job market and to become a mechanical drafter.
Training to become a mechanical drafter is offered by technical institutes as well as two- and four-year colleges. Technical institutes often offer accelerated, intensive programs that will ready the student faster for the job market. Many of them offer two-year associate degrees, as well as certificate programs. The curriculum is typically tightly focused on classes dealing with drafting. By contrast, two-year community colleges and four-year colleges and universities offer a more well-rounded curriculum that includes exposure to subjects in math, science, and computer technology. Inquiring about the educational requirements of prospective employers can help you to pinpoint the education needed to become a mechanical drafter.
A certification program is offered by the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA). While an ADDA certificate is not usually a prerequisite in applying for a mechanical drafter position, it demonstrates your knowledge of accepted drafting standards and practices. The test, administered by the ADDA, requires the candidate to demonstrate a knowledge of design terms and standards, fundamental drafting concepts, and geometric construction. That said, some companies hire entry-level or junior mechanical drafters who do not possess a certificate or other specific training. They are usually supervised closely and work on routine projects.
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