Electronics and Electrical Drafters
|Recommended Degree Level||Associate|
|Number of Jobs, 2012||28,160|
|Annual Job Growth Rate||2.4%|
|Job Openings per Year (est.)||720|
- Most employers prefer to hire individuals who have completed drafting training at a vocational school, community college or university. You will also need to show that you have had extensive training with CAD software.
- Some electronics drafters choose to complete an Associate in Arts (A.A.) or Bachelor in Arts (B.A.) in computer-aided drafting, mechanical drafting or electro-mechanical drafting.
- Drafters may also hold degrees in industrial or graphic design.
What you study:
You will study all of the following while pursuing a degree or certificate in drafting:
- Drafting Fundamentals
- CAD Fundamentals
- Intermediate Algebra
- Intro to Physics
- Die, Tool and Mold Detailing
- Intro to Engineering
This video quickly overviews what electronic and electrical drafters do in their daily work. Produced for the US Department of Labor.
A Day in the Life
As an electronics and electrical drafter, you spend the majority of your day in an office environment. If you choose to focus on electronics drafting, you will create diagrams and schemas to guide engineers and technicians as they develop, assemble and repair a wide variety of electronic devices. You've done this type of work before, but you've recently moved to a company where you handle electrical drafting tasks. Electrical drafting is very similar to electronics drafting but tends to deal with larger systems and devices.
You start your day by checking in with the manager of your department. You wrapped up a project yesterday, so you'll begin work on a new drafting project today. Your boss gives you the guidelines for the project and tells you that you're set to meet with the head engineer in half an hour. You use the time before your meeting to review the work order and to check your phone messages and emails. To prepare for your meeting with the engineer, you jot down a few questions that immediately come to mind about the project.
During your meeting, the engineer explains that work crews will be replacing faulty electrical panels nationwide with a new, more reliable design. He has provided the calculations for this new panel and has provided a working model of the panel. You take extensive notes about the features that the panel should have and check with him to be sure that the scientific calculations with which you were provided are correct. You tell the engineer that working up a first draft will take you a few days and then head back to your work area.
Before you begin work on the new technical drawing, you grab an early lunch. You want to be able to focus on the new drawing without any interruptions when you return. At your work station, you begin by making a preliminary sketch with handheld drafting tools. This old-fashioned way of working helps you to anticipate problems with the drawing and get the extra information that you need from the head engineer in order to complete it successfully.
You spend the rest of the afternoon working on your rough drawing. You send the engineer an email to clarify some of the information he provided and then clean up your work area. When you get to work tomorrow, you'll review the engineer's reply and will begin work on the finalized, computer-aided draft of the design schema. You will likely spend the whole day working on the drawing and making design calculations.
You'll plan to complete the design by the end of the week so that you can give it to the head engineer. You'll then make adjustments as necessary. When the drawing is completed, you'll print blueprints for the engineer and will store the design in your company's archives.
Certifications and Licensing
No formal certification is needed to work as an electronics or electrical drafter. However, gaining professional certification through the American Design Drafting Association, or ADDA, will prove your competence to potential employers.
You will spend the majority of your working day at a drafting desk or in front of a computer. Depending on the company you work for, you may be able to work from home at least part of the time.
- U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook for Drafters: This Bureau of Labor Statistics publication offers a general overview of careers in drafting. Individuals who are thinking of entering this field can review employment projections and salary averages. However, it's important to consult sites that offer a more well-rounded view of electronics and electrical drafting in particular.
- The CAD Society: This membership-based group caters to the needs of professionals who work in computer-aided drafting. The website offers interesting profiles of successful engineers. Students will find the software and equipment discounts offered through the society particularly helpful.
- American Design Drafting Association: ADDA's website offers training and continuing education information for professionals in all areas of drafting. Prospective drafters can use the site to learn more about accredited schools, professional exams and advanced certification in drafting.