Mechanical Designer

Design and Engineering

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    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


    • Creative
    • Detail-oriented
    • Technical
    • Computer literate, including drafting software
    • Organization
    • Teamwork
    • Communication


    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.

    Job Outlook

    According to the New York State Department of Labor, there are approximately 1,400 mechanical designers in New York State. They project this occupation to decrease by 10 jobs between 2020 and 2030 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 $66,500. Entry-level workers earn about $48,400 and experienced workers earn about $86,300.

    Annual Wage (Q1 2023 dollars, rounded to 100s) – Statewide and by Labor Market Region

    New York State$48,400 $66,500 $86,300
    Capital Region$49,700 $66,300 $84,900
    Central New York$48,400 $66,300 $87,600
    Finger Lakes$45,200 $61,300 $71,700
    Hudson Valley$51,800 $77,900 $99,100
    Long Island$50,200 $67,500 $88,500
    Mohawk Valley$45,800 $62,100 $67,600
    New York City$53,800 $82,200 $99,400
    North Country$38,200 $52,900 $62,100
    Southern Tier$44,900 $64,300 $71,300
    Western New York$47,000 $63,800 $75,900

    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 2022 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.

    Labor Unions

    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.

    Capital Region

    Central New York

    Finger Lakes

    Hudson Valley

    Long Island

    Mohawk Valley

    New York City

    North Country

    Southern Tier

    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.

    Educational InstitutionDepartmentCertificateAssociateBachelorMasterPhD
    Capital Region
    Hudson Valley Community CollegeSchool of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)YesYesNoNoNo
    Central New York
    Cayuga County Community CollegeSchool of Science, Technology, Engineering and MathematicsNoYesNoNoNo
    Onondaga Community CollegeSchool of Computing & Applied TechnologiesNoYesNoNoNo
    SUNY MorrisvilleDesign & EngineeringNoYesNoNoNo
    Finger Lakes
    Genesee Community CollegeScience & TechnologyYesYesNoNoNo
    Monroe Community CollegeEngineering TechnologiesYesYesNoNoNo
    Hudson Valley
    SUNY Westchester Community CollegeSchool of Mathematics, Science and EngineeringYesYesNoNoNo
    Ulster County Community CollegeComputer Aided Drafting (CAD)YesNoNoNoNo
    Long Island
    Farmingdale State CollegeMechanical Engineering TechnologyYesNoYesNoNo
    Suffolk County Community CollegeConstruction Technology / Architectural TechnologyYesNoNoNoNo
    Mohawk Valley
    Mohawk Valley Community CollegeSchool of STEMYesYesNoNoNo
    New York City
    New York City College of Technology (CUNY)School of Technology & DesignNoYesYesNoNo
    Queensborough Community College (CUNY)Engineering TechnologyNoYesNoNoNo
    North Country
    Clinton Community CollegeTechnologyNoYesNoNoNo
    SUNY College of Technology at CantonCanino School of Engineering TechnologyNoYesYesNoNo
    Southern Tier
    SUNY Broome Community CollegeScience, Technology, Engineering and MathematicsNoYesNoNoNo
    SUNY Corning Community CollegeTechnology and ManufacturingYesYesNoNoNo
    SUNY at DelhiSchool of Applied Technologies and ArchitectureNoYesNoNoNo
    Western New York
    Erie Community CollegeMechanical Engineering TechnologyNoYesNoNoNo
    Jamestown Community CollegeEngineering, Manufacturing, & Applied TechnologyYesYesNoNoNo
    Niagara County Community CollegeBusiness & STEMYesYesNoNoNo
    SUNY at AlfredMechanical and Electrical Engineering TechnologyNoYesYesNoNo

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