What is an Electrician?

Electricians are tradesmen and women whose responsibilities are to design, install, maintain, and troubleshoot electrical wiring systems.

These systems can be located in homes, commercial or industrial buildings, and even in machines and large pieces of equipment. Electricians work either inside or outside to make possible the use of lights, televisions, industrial equipment, appliances, and many other essential items.

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What does an Electrician do?

Electricians are either inside wiremen or outside linemen. These are the main concentrations, but there are various areas of specialization within each category. Duties also vary widely with each type of position or specialization.

An electrician troubleshooting an electrical wiring system.

Electricians who fall into the inside wiremen category focus almost solely on the wiring of buildings. Structures range from a newly built home to an aged industrial building that's being repurposed for a new use. Inside wiremen, as their name implies, spend most of their careers working indoors. Working with blueprints, they install new electrical systems in new buildings and troubleshoot problems or replace older systems.

Outside linemen, by contrast, work outdoors most of their careers. They must exhibit a moderate amount of physical fitness due to the requirement of climbing telephone and power poles when a lift bucket is not available. Outside linemen must also endure inclement weather in order to repair power outages for all the homes, businesses and other structures in the area affected by the outage. These electricians work with transformers, transmission lines and traffic signals. They may also be required to trim trees or assemble electrical substations.

These main categories are subdivided into several areas.
Service electricians, for instance, specialize in troubleshooting wiring problems and making repairs.
Construction electricians, in contrast, focus on laying wiring for new buildings and rarely perform maintenance. Electricians also specialize in marine, air, research, and hospital-specific applications.

Are you suited to be an electrician?

Electricians have distinct personalities. They tend to be realistic individuals, which means they’re independent, stable, persistent, genuine, practical, and thrifty. They like tasks that are tactile, physical, athletic, or mechanical. Some of them are also investigative, meaning they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

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What is the workplace of an Electrician like?

Depending on their area of specialty, electricians work either indoors or outdoors year round. In either case, their work is often labour intensive and requires manual physical manipulation of electrical wiring, cabling conduit and, in some cases, even telephone wire. A growing number of electricians gain competency in several types of electrical work, allowing them to work both indoors and outdoors.

In many cases, travel is an essential part of the day. Electricians may travel to upwards of 100 miles to a job site and may only work that job for a few days before travelling to another location. These electricians generally fall into the independent contractor category or work under an electrical contractor. Their hours of work vary from week to week.

Maintenance electricians, by contrast, work a standard 40-hour week. In some instances, these electricians may work on an on-call basis, commit to overtime hours, or work night shifts. Their work is steady and regular and consists mostly of routine maintenance and troubleshooting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Electricians like?

Based on our pool of users, Electricians tend to be predominately investigative people. And we should all be grateful for that! Because without the professionally trained eyes of these trade professionals, our safety – in our homes, at our places of work, and everywhere – would be at risk.

Should I become an Electrician?

Many practising electricians were drawn to the field because the skilled work allows them to use both their hands and their minds. The following required skills are evidence of this.

Physical strength and stamina
For the most part, electricians work on their feet and they often have to crawl through tight spaces and lift heavy mechanisms.

Excellent eyesight
Manipulating wires and tiny components and distinguishing between subtle colors to ensure proper wiring and safety demands excellent eyesight.

Critical thinking and attention to detail
Electricians are consistently called upon to consider reasons why an electrical component is not working. The reason, of course, is not always evident. Determining the answer takes a critical and detailed approach to solving problems.

Teamwork, communication, and customer service
While it is true that electricians often work alone, they may also work in teams, especially when designing and installing electrical systems for new residential or commercial projects. They must be able to effectively communicate and collaborate with colleagues, construction crews, and homeowners.

Numeracy and technical ability
Electricians must be comfortable working with numbers and interpreting technical plans.

Steps to becoming an Electrician

While pre-training at a trade or vocational school is highly recommended, the process of becoming an electrician is centered on an electrical apprenticeship.

How long does it take to become an Electrician?

• Trade/Technical/Vocational School Training program
– nine months (Certificate Program)
- two years (Associate Degree Program)

• Apprenticeship to become a Journeyman Electrician – four to five years

Electricians are also known as:
Maintenance Electrician Journeyman Electrician Inside Wireman Control Electrician Electrician Technician Industrial Electrician Journeyman Wireman Outside Lineman Construction Electrician Apprentice Electrician