Electrical drafters create provisions and instructions for installation of voltage transformers, overhead or underground cables and associated electrical equipment used to conduct electrical energy from transmission lines or high-voltage distribution lines to consumers. The tools that electrical drafters use include computer-aided drafting equipment or conventional drafting stations, tables, technical handbooks, calculators and conventional drafting tools, such as pencils, boards, protractors and T-squares. Drafters must be adept in creating drawings, wiring diagrams, wiring connection specifications or cross-sections of underground cables, as required for instructions to installation crew. They must also draw master sketches to scale showing relation of planned installations to current facilities and exact specifications. Electrical drafters must meet with engineering staff and other personnel to solve problems.
Job opportunities for electrical drafters are best for candidates with at least two years of postsecondary training in drafting.
Demand for electrical drafters depends on the needs of local industry.
Overall employment is projected to grow more slowly than average.
Work Environment for Electrical Drafters
Drafters usually work in offices, because they spend long periods of time working on computers. Most drafters work a typical 40-hour week. A small number work part time.
Because electrical drafters work long hours on computers, they are susceptible to physical discomforts including eyestrain, back pain, and hand and wrist problems.
Education, Training and Licensing
For those seeking electrical drafting employment, employers look for applicants who have completed postsecondary school training in drafting. These programs are offered by technical institutes, community colleges and some 4-year colleges and universities. Employers are highly interested in candidates with excellent drafting and mechanical drawing skills, mathematics, science, knowledge of drafting standards, engineering technology and a strong background in CADD techniques.
For those considering a drafting career, high school courses in mathematics, science, computer technology, design, computer graphics, and drafting are useful. Prospective students should contact potential employers to find out which schools they prefer.
Many technical institutes offer 2-year associate degree programs. Technical institutes have concentrated technical training programs, but they provide less general education courses than do community colleges. Either certificates or diplomas may be awarded, and program length and course offerings may vary.
The American Design Drafting Association (ADDA) has established a certification program for drafters. Although electrical drafters are not required to be certified, certification demonstrates knowledge and an understanding of nationally recognized practices. To become certified, candidates must pass the Drafter Certification Test, which is administered at ADDA-authorized sites. Applicants are tested on basic drafting concepts, including working drawings, geometric construction and architectural terms and standards.
Electrical drafters must possess mechanical ability and visual aptitude. Prospective drafters should be able to draw well and complete accurate, detailed work. Artistic ability and knowledge of manufacturing and construction methods are very helpful. Additionally, prospective drafters should have solid communication skills, because they work closely with surveyors, engineers, architects and customers.
Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings
Electrical drafters held 30,590 jobs in May 2009, according to research published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Most electrical drafters held titles including electrical designer, CAD technician (Computer Aided Drafting Technician), line staker, CAD operator (Computer aided design operator), designer, CAD designer (Computer Aided Design Designer), drafter and electrical CAD technician (Electrical Computer Aided Design Technician).
According to the Occupational Network Database (ONET), employment in this field is expected to increase only 2% from 2008 to 2010, indicating little or no change in growth.
BLS reports indicate that the median annual wage for salaried electrical drafters was $52,080 in May 2009. The middle 50% earned between $41,190 and $66,280. While the lowest 10% had an annual income at or below $33,140, the top 10% earned upwards of $80,960 per year.