Career Guide for Electricians
Electricians install and maintain electrical power systems in homes and businesses. They provide maintenance and repair of existing electrical systems.
Job opportunities should be good, especially for those with the broadest range of skills.
Most electricians acquire their skills by completing an apprenticeship program usually lasting 4 years.
About 79 percent of electricians work in the construction industry or are self-employed, but there also will be opportunities for electricians in other industries.
Working as an Electrician
Electricians install and maintain all of the electrical and power systems for our homes, businesses, and factories. They install and maintain the wiring and control equipment through which electricity flows. They also install and maintain electrical equipment and machines in factories and a wide range of other businesses.
Electricians generally focus on either construction or maintenance, although many do both. Electricians specializing in construction primarily install wiring systems into factories, businesses, and new homes. Electricians specializing in maintenance fix and upgrade existing electrical systems and repair electrical equipment. All electricians must follow State and local building codes and the National Electrical Code when performing their work.
Electricians usually start their work by reading blueprints— technical diagrams that show the locations of circuits, outlets, load centers, panel boards, and other equipment. After determining where all the wires and components will go, electricians install and connect the wires to circuit breakers, transformers, outlets, or other components and systems.
How to Become an Electrician
Starting a new career can be confusing at times, and perhaps a bit scary. Don’t worry. We are going to show you everything you need to know about how to become an electrician in our complete step guide.
What is the Electrician’s Salary and Wages?
Let me give you a brief run-down of the electrician’s salary and wages. Not only does the electrician enjoy steady and satisfying work, the electrician’s salary and wages are the highest paid of the skilled trades due to the technical knowledge and diverse skills that are required to perform a broad range of tasks. This is good news when learning how to become an electrician.
Apprentice Electrician Wages
The starting wage of an apprentice is usually 40% of a fully trained electrician’s wage. Your pay should increase along with your skills and value to your employer. Electricians in manufacturing, and power generation and transmission, usually have higher wages than those in construction.
Most electricians work full-time, which may include evenings and weekends. Of course, work schedules can change during bad weather or unpredictable delays. On the other hand, during scheduled maintenance or on construction sites with a looming deadline, you can expect to work overtime.
Consider the Electrician Job Description
It can be challenging deciding on a vocation. Without a clear picture of what you’re getting yourself into, you might feel unsettled or indecisive. The first step in learning how to become an electrician is to make sure you understand what the job entails. With this in mind, take an in-depth look into the electrician job description. It will reveal whether or not a career in the electrical career is a good fit for you.
Your guide on how to become an electrician
There will always be a need for tradespeople who work with wiring, machines, and other electrical equipment. Electricians keep us powered up, and they possess specialized skills to do work that could be dangerous in the hands of an amateur. If you are considering joining the ranks of these essential professionals, there are several things you need to know about becoming an electrician
What do electricians do?
This seems like a no-brainer: electricians work with electrical equipment. That job description is both accurate and completely inadequate because the term “electrical equipment” includes so much and the work is so varied. Electricians perform repairs, installations, and maintenance. We are probably most used to having electricians visit our homes to install new outlets or repair faulty wiring, but they also perform their work in factories, construction sites, shops, and businesses. They work indoors and out, and the equipment on which they work stretches well beyond household appliances and wiring. Electricians may also decide to specialize in wiring airplanes, ships, cable and data systems.
As for the less-specialized electrician, there are four common types:
Residential wiremen, who install and repair household wiring.
Inside wiremen, who install and repair wiring in non-residential structures, such as factories, arenas, airports, schools, and office buildings.
Outside linemen, who lay the cables that connect power plants to residences and buildings.
Telecommunications electricians, who install television, telephone, and Internet cables.
What skills do electricians have?
Electricians do a lot more than connecting cables from one power source to another. They possess a large quantity of skills, both general and specific to their particular areas of specialization.
General skills include:
Understanding the National Electric Code, which is the regional standard for electrical safety requirements
Working with tools such as amp meters, digital multimeters, pliers, measuring devices, drills, saws, etc.
Plotting the installation of wiring throughout buildings
Locating and replacing faulty wires
Working with circuit breakers and fuses
Locating the energy flow to transformers and circuit breakers
Assessing the work of other electricians
Ensuring that electrical work is up to safety standards
Managing electrical crews
How to hire guide: electricians
All electricians need to be suitably qualified for the work they undertake. Much domestic installation work falls under Part P building regulations, which means it must be certified by your local authority building control. The simplest way to do that, is to ensure the work is carried out by someone who is a Part P registered ‘competent-person’, as that way all the relevant notifications and paperwork will be completed for you.
Part P-registered firms are vetted to ensure their work is up to standard. They have specialist equipment and know the standards required to pass an electrical safety check. If you use an uncertified electrician, you may have to pay your Local Authority building control a fee to inspect the work.
Which? Trusted Traders endorses electricians in your area, checking their business practices, terms and conditions and taking references from previous clients to help take the worry out of choosing a trader. All Which? Trusted Traders endorsed electricians have the necessary qualifications to carry out electrical work in your home.
It’s worth checking whether the electricians on your shortlist are registered with one of the government-approved schemes run by bodies such as National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contractors (NICEIC), ELECSA, NAPIT or others. Contact the scheme directly to check that the electrician is registered. In the event of something going wrong, you’ll receive support from the scheme operator.
The Electrical Safety Council says it is seeing a growing problem with tradespeople such as builders or kitchen fitters subcontracting electrical work to unqualified individuals. Rather than assuming a tradesperson will check an electrician’s background, qualification and registrations, the Electrical Safety Council recommends that you ask to see proof of the electrical contractor’s ability yourself. Any electrician who is reluctant to do so should be avoided.
The study of a proposed electrical installation requires an adequate understanding of all governing rules and regulations. A list of most common IEC standards is provided. The total power demand can be calculated based on the location and power of each load, together with the knowledge of the operating modes (steady state demand, starting conditions, non simultaneous operation, etc.).
The power and number of sources required to supply the electrical installation is readily obtained, also taking into account local tariff structures, to allow the best choice of connection arrangement to the power-supply network, e.g. at medium voltage or low voltage level.
Standard voltages between 100 V and 1000 V (IEC 60038 Edition 7.0 2009-06)
* the lower values in the first and second columns are voltages to neutral and the higher values are voltages between phases. When one value only is indicated, it refers to three-wire systems and specifies the voltage between phases. The lower value in the third column is the voltage to neutral and the higher value is the voltage between lines.
* voltages in excess of 230/400 V are intended for heavy industrial applications and large commercial premises.
* concerning supply voltage range, under normal operating conditions, the supply voltage should not differ from the nominal voltage of the system by more than ±10 %.
Note 1: It is recommended that in any one country the ratio between two adjacent nominal voltages should be not less than two.
Note 2: In a normal system of Series I, the highest voltage and the lowest voltage do not differ by more than approximately ±10 % from the nominal voltage of the system. In a normal system of Series II, the highest voltage does not differ by more then +5 % and the lowest voltage by more than -10 % from the nominal voltage of the system.
In most countries, electrical installations shall comply with more than one set of regulations, issued by National Authorities or by recognized private bodies. It is essential to take into account these local constraints before starting the design. These regulations may be based on national standards derived from the IEC 60364: Low-voltage electrical installations.