Design and Engineering
Required Education, Credentials, and Licenses
- Certificate or associate degree
Preferred Education and Credentials
- Knowledge of HVAC/R system design and equipment
- 2+ years of experience
- Computer literate, including drafting software
Mechanical designers, also referred to as mechanical drafters, use computer programs to translate the design ideas of architects and engineers into technical drawings and workable plans.
Mechanical designers in the HVAC/R field work alongside mechanical engineers. They review and analyze engineers’ original sketches and then use computer-aided design (CAD) software to prepare detailed drawings for mechanical equipment, controls, and building systems, and they work to improve designs to correct operating deficiencies. Mechanical designers need to be creative and detail-oriented to accurately transform engineers’ preliminary designs into technical schematics. Some mechanical designers perform load and ductwork calculations that affect the dimensions and layout of mechanical systems and the size of equipment needed. The computer software programs that are most in-demand by employers of mechanical designers in the HVAC/R field are AutoCAD, Revit, and the Microsoft Office suite of software.
Mechanical designers must enjoy working in a collaborative environment and need strong interpersonal skills to effectively communicate with engineers, construction managers, and other team members. It is important for mechanical designers to be organized and manage time well, because they often work under deadline and may work on multiple projects simultaneously.
Mechanical designers spend most of their time working on computers in offices. They may also visit worksites to meet with engineers, architects, or construction personnel. Mechanical designers typically work full-time, and working additional hours to meet deadlines might be necessary.
According to the New York State Department of Labor, there are approximately 2,300 mechanical designers in New York State. They project this occupation to decrease by 100 jobs between 2018 and 2028 and describe employment prospects as “very unfavorable”.
Entering the Field
A post-secondary education is typically needed to work as a mechanical designer. Jobs are often accessible to workers with an associate degree or undergraduate certificate in drafting or, for mechanical designers in the HVAC/R field, a related degree program such as mechanical engineering technology. Entry-level positions are available to workers without prior experience, but some employers may prefer to hire mechanical designers with a few years of relevant hands-on experience with HVAC/R equipment and systems.
Some mechanical designers prepare for the work by earning certification from the American Design Drafting Association (ADDA), which offers credentialization as a Mechanical Apprentice Drafter or Mechanical Certified Drafter (among other specialties). Most employers do not require ADDA certification.
In New York State, the median wage for mechanical designers is approximately $60,300. Entry-level workers earn about $42,600 and experienced workers earn about $73,900.
Annual Wage (Q1 2021 dollars, rounded to 100s) – Statewide and by Labor Market Region
|New York State||$42,600||$60,300||$73,900|
|Central New York||$47,900||$60,400||$70,900|
|New York City||$44,500||$63,100||$81,800|
|Western New York||$43,800||$59,000||$69,200|
Source: New York State Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Survey, SOC Code 17-3013 (Mechanical Drafters)
Mechanical designers in the HVAC/R field may be hired by manufacturing companies that design and produce HVAC/R equipment and parts, engineering or consulting firms that design building mechanical systems for clients, or building equipment contractors that configure and install HVAC/R systems. While mechanical designer was the most common job title used in online job advertisements in 2020 for this occupation in the HVAC/R field, other online job postings listed these positions with “drafter” in the title, and some referenced specific software used on the job (e.g., mechanical drafter, Revit draftsman). Searching online job boards using those titles and keywords such as “HVAC,” “refrigeration,” “mechanical,” “drafting,” “computer-aided design,” or “CAD” can help to identify opportunities to work in this occupation.
Workers in architectural and engineering occupations, including mechanical designers, are not highly unionized. Within the HVAC/R field, some workers who do computer-aided drafting may be members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers (SMART), which has seven local chapters across New York State. Some labor market regions have more than one active local chapter. Visit their websites (shown below) to see which ones represent mechanical designers in different parts of the state.
Mechanical designers who work for New York State or local governments might belong to a union representing public sector employees. Check with local public unions in the community to see if they represent mechanical designers or see if local employers that hire mechanical designers of HVAC/R equipment and systems have a union affiliation that includes these jobs.
Central New York
New York City
Western New York
Education and Training Programs
Individuals who want to work as a mechanical designer in the HVAC/R field can prepare for employment by enrolling in a certificate or associate degree program in CAD, CAD technology, mechanical engineering technology, or mechanical technology.
|Hudson Valley Community College||School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Central New York|
|Cayuga County Community College||School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Onondaga Community College||School of Computing & Applied Technologies||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|SUNY Morrisville||Design & Engineering||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Finger Lakes Community College||Mechanical Technology||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Genesee Community College||Science & Technology||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Monroe Community College||Engineering Technologies||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Rockland Community College||School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics||•Yes||No||No||No||No|
|SUNY Westchester Community College||School of Mathematics, Science and Engineering||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Ulster County Community College||Computer Aided Drafting (CAD)||•Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Suffolk County Community College||Construction Technology / Architectural Technology||•Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Mohawk Valley Community College||School of STEM||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|New York City|
|New York City College of Technology (CUNY)||School of Technology & Design||No||•Yes||•Yes||No||No|
|Queensborough Community College (CUNY)||Engineering Technology||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Clinton Community College||Technology||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|SUNY College of Technology at Canton||Canino School of Engineering Technology||No||•Yes||•Yes||No||No|
|SUNY Broome Community College||Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|SUNY Corning Community College||Technology and Manufacturing||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|SUNY at Delhi||School of Applied Technologies||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Western New York|
|Erie Community College||Mechanical Engineering Technology||No||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Jamestown Community College||Engineering, Manufacturing, & Applied Technology||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|Niagara County Community College||Business & STEM||•Yes||•Yes||No||No||No|
|SUNY at Alfred||Mechanical and Electrical Engineering Technology||No||•Yes||•Yes||No||No|