Electrical Drafter

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Electrical Drafter


Every electrical structure or object -- from hand blenders to factory machines -- has a set of design or drafting diagrams to accompany it. Electrical inventions do not just pop out of thin air; they are carefully designed by a team of electrical engineers and drafting technologists. Electrical drafters support the work of engineers and architects by preparing and producing technical drawings used to build everything electrical. Using industry standards and regulations, they perform calculations and research prior to creating designs. Their drawings technically explain the details of products and structures, specify materials to be used and procedures to be taken. Electrical drafters will usually write a technical report to accompany the drawings, including cost estimates.

Electrical drafters serve as the intermediary between engineers and technicians. They perform functions such as designing electrical installations, determining the fault level of current, coordinating relays and completing a harmonic analysis of a feeder circuit. Electrical drafters work in areas like power systems and protection, electrical design or field testing, construction, industrial automation, industrial networks and communication, electrical maintenance, system operations, metering, energy management, lighting design, programmable logic controllers and technical sales.

Electrical drafters complete the technical details of a design project using calculations previously made by electrical engineers. For example, they use their knowledge of machines to determine how to design with the proper elements. They are also involved in related activities such as estimating, contract administration, and specification preparation. Traditionally, the drafting element of this job involved hand drawing blue prints and designs, but with the increase in computer-aided design (CAD) systems, almost all design now takes place on computers.

In fact, some electrical drafters are often referred to as CAD technologists or technicians. Electrical drafters use CAD systems create realistic geometric models of objects which can simulate and analyze the effects and potential problems of designs. The system sorts drawings electronically so that revisions, variations and duplications can easily be made. Although electronic drafters use CAD extensively, it is still only a computer tool. In other words, drafters should still possess design skills and have extensive knowledge of electronics equipment in addition to CAD skills.

They may work independently, in teams with electrical design engineers or as support for engineers and industrial designers. Electronic drafters are required to constantly update their skills and knowledge in order to keep up with technological advancements in this quickly changing field.
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  Interests and Skills  
Electrical drafters will possess the ability to adapt to changes and adopt new ideas and have an aptitude for mathematics and science. They can draft and interpret plans and diagrams, troubleshoot circuits and test materials and products. They can identify and choose colors for safety, and work with a variety of different people or on their own.

Electrical drafters should enjoy working with tools, computers, instruments and machinery at tasks requiring precision. They also enjoy taking a methodical approach to analyzing problems and finding innovative solutions.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Design or modify drawings for electrical installations in residential, commercial and industrial buildings
  • Write electrical specifications for electrical designs and equipment
  • Design drawings for electrical transmission and distribution systems
  • Oversee industrial networks and data communications
  • Manage electrical energy systems through load flow, power quality and energy management
  • Prepare project cost estimates from electrical drawings
  • Participate in project maintenance and risk management
  • Write and perform commissioning procedures for electrical installations
  • Install and maintain electrical control systems and industrial automation systems
  • Maintain electrical equipment such as switch gear, control circuits, transformers, motors, protective relays, variable speed drives and programmable logic controllers
  • Use computers to test and control electrical equipment and perform specialized functions
  • Most electrical drafters work standard hours in engineering, consulting or sales offices. Longer hours may be required to meet deadlines. A typical day is spent designing on the computer however; drafters will also work in laboratories testing their designs. They must cautiously follow safety procedures to avoid injury or death from electrical shock.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Electrical drafters work for electrical and electronic suppliers, utility companies and industrial plants, electrical and construction contractors, engineering consulting firms, manufacturers and distributors, agencies for electrical industry de-regulation, government and regulatory agencies, building and industrial maintenance firms, and oil and gas companies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
There is definite room for advancement as an electrical drafter. Entry-level positions involve heavy supervision, but with experience, most electrical drafters develop greater competency and advance to positions in the management or supervisory nature. Electrical drafters may also advance to senior drafting positions, taking on larger, more complex problems. With more education, some may go on to become engineers or architects. Experienced electrical drafters may also establish their own businesses.

  Educational Paths  
Completion of a two- or three-year college program in electrical engineering drafting technology is usually required for electrical drafters. A certification in electrical drafting technology or a related field is available through associations of engineering or applied science technologists and technicians, and may be required for some positions.

Since a great deal of electrical drafting work takes place on the computer, taking courses in CAD systems is useful for obtaining employment.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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