Electricians are in charge of installing the wirings and systems that provide electrical power to any building or facility. Being an Electrician involves a great deal of problem-solving, since these professionals often need to test existing systems to identify and fix any abnormality—a process more commonly known as “troubleshooting”.
An Electrician’s job is very demanding and it requires manual physical manipulation of electrical wiring, cabling conduit and, in some cases, even telephone wire. Depending on their skills and knowledge, some Electricians may even repair engines, transformers, generators, and electronic controllers.
Electricians usually work as freelancers, either being employed on a project-basis by different construction companies or securing these contracts themselves when having their own company. The latter implies a lot of self-promotion and might also lead them to carry out more clerical tasks.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Electricians are required to complete.
- Determining and calculating requirements after studying the necessary layouts and any applicable regulations.
- Installing several types of electrical systems, always adhering to safety regulations and ensuring efficient energy consumption and distribution:
- Setting up lighting systems with all their necessary components (e.g. switches, breakers, and sensors), as well as providing regular maintenance;
- installing, inspecting, and replacing or repairing generators and alternators;
- arranging wire systems in order to complete the necessary circuitries;
- performing tests on wires and electrical circuits to verify their conductivity and functionality; and
- installing electric outlets in order to connect electrical appliances, taking standardized voltage levels in consideration.
- Identifying electrical problems through the use of the adequate equipment and replacing wires and devices if necessary:
- Applying the required troubleshooting processes, from establishing whether equipment is plugged in or not, to looking at computerized diagnostics in order to locate the problem and its nature; and
- fixing wiring and connections where necessary in order to prevent damage and hazardous conditions.
- Ensuring the effective and safe functioning of electrical and electronical equipment:
- Using specific tools (e.g. voltmeters and ammeters) to carry out tests on continuity, current, voltage, and resistance of electrical and electronic equipment;
- guaranteeing that all electrical devices, systems, electrical wiring, and tools meet the safety, compatibility, and construction requirements, and replacing them when necessary (e.g. failure to meet the established codes, defects, and unrepairable damage);
- inspecting and maintaining old wiring and any stripped cable in order to prevent any accident or breakdown of systems;
- providing input and solutions related to any design or installation issues;
- making sure all maintenance operations comply with applicable regulations and standards; and
- keeping track of all maintenance work and drafting reports when necessary.
- Assisting the Construction Manager in the coordination of on-site activities:
- Overseeing the installation and repair of broken equipment or damaged wires; and
- ordering missing supplies and equipment, when required.
- Preparing estimates, tenders, and invoices:
- Analyzing, collecting, calculating, and comparing data.
- Installing, maintaining, troubleshooting, and repairing a wide range of electrical equipment.
- Preventing hazardous situations from happening by conducting maintenance tests and reporting and resolving any design or installation issues.
The average Electrician salary is $59,252 per year or $30 per hour. This is around 1.8 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $41,000 while most experienced workers make up to $83,000. These results are based on 1,612 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Interpersonal, communication, and customer service skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment with clients and colleagues, using a non-technical language as required;
- being able to work cohesively as part of a team, interacting with production crews to coordinate repairs to their equipment; and
- being able to use technical language in order to liaise with manufacturers and report malfunctioning equipment in an efficient and precise manner.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Prioritizing and planning work activities in order to manage time efficiently while managing a high volume of work;
- multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment; and
- being able to work well under pressure, individually or as part of a team.
- Analytical skills and problem-solving skills:
- Approaching tasks in a reliable and resourceful manner; and
- troubleshooting and providing an alternative solution when encountering malfunctions in equipment.
- High degree of initiative and self-supervision:
- Displaying willingness to learn new skills;
- making sure that all operations comply with safety requirements;
- gathering information from pre-maintenance work orders to determine the location and the kind of work to be done; and
- using creativity and imagination to develop new insights and to apply new solutions to problems.
- Continual focus on safety, cost control, and client satisfaction:
- Wearing hearing protection to protect workers from excessive noise, especially when working in factories around noisy machinery; and
- wearing anti-dust respirator masks, steel-toed work boots, helmets, and glasses, as well as other personal protective equipment (PPE) as required.
- Manual dexterity, motor coordination, and physical strength:
- Displaying good hand skills with a high regard for neat workmanship;
- being able to move around construction sites and to lift or carry objects weighing up to 40 pounds; and
- being able to climb ladders and being comfortable working at heights.
All Electricians start off as Apprentice Electricians, working one (1) to four (4) years in an industrial or commercial setting. Prior to being hired, Apprentice Electricians must have completed a pre-apprenticeship training program at an accredited trade school. On-the-job training and specialty training courses are usually preferred, as well as proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite.
Aside from having completed their apprenticeship training, Electricians are also required to have a minimum of 2 to 5 years of experience within a related industry, including experience in the maintenance and troubleshooting of technical equipment.
In Canada, Electricians must have completed an Industrial Electrician Certificate (442A) or a Construction and Maintenance Electrician Certificate (309A). A Journeyman Certificate and/or an Electrician Red Seal Certification is usually preferred. Electricians also need to demonstrate a thorough understanding of the Canadian Electric Code, health and safety standards, as well as piping and instrumentation diagrams/drawings (P&IDs).
Additional certifications are usually preferred, including, but not limited to, the following:
- First-Aid Training;
- H2S Certification;
- Construction Safety Training System (CSTS);
- Petroleum Safety Training (PST); and
- Oil Sands Safety Association (OSSA) Fall Protection Training.
Finally, Electricians must be able to work flexible schedules, including weekends, as well as to stand for an eight-hour long shift. They also need a valid driver’s licence and a good driving record, as well as a reliable mean of transportation, in order to get themselves and their tools to job sites within their designated area.