Electricians install, alter, repair and maintain electrical systems designed to provide heat, light, power, control, signal or fire alarms for all types of buildings, structures and premises.
In general, but not limited to, electricians:
- read and interpret electrical, mechanical and architectural drawings, specifications, and applicable codes to determine wiring layouts
- cut, thread, bend, assemble and install conduits and other types of electrical conductor enclosures and fittings
- pull wire through conduits and holes in walls and floors
- position, maintain and install distribution and control equipment such as switches, relays, circuit breaker panels and fuse enclosures
- install, replace, maintain and repair electrical systems and related electrical equipment
- install data cabling
- splice, join and connect wire to form circuits
- test circuits to ensure integrity and safety
- install and maintain fibre optic systems and
- install, replace, maintain and repair electrical generation sources and related equipment
Some electricians specialize in specific types of installations:
- residential (housing developments)
- commercial (office buildings)
- institutional (hospitals)
- industrial (plants, factories)
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Electricians may be involved in construction or maintenance, or do a variety of electrical work. Electricians usually work a 40-hour, five-day week plus overtime when required. Some types of work may be considered seasonal work. Working conditions can change dramatically from one job to another, varying from indoors in clean conditions to outdoors on scaffolding, and to confined and restricted locations. Safe work practices are essential.
To be successful in their trade electricians must have:
- good communication and reading skills
- an aptitude for mathematics
- mechanical ability, strength and manual dexterity
- the ability to distinguish colours to work with colour-coded wiring
- the ability to plan and organize
- the ability to work at heights
- the ability to use proper lifting techniques for weights up to 25 kilograms
- the ability to get along well with co-workers
- the ability to coach and mentor
- the willingness to keep up with new developments in the field
- the ability to create new ways of completing tasks
- the ability to do very precise work
- problem solving
- computer skills
Those who install or maintain equipment in existing homes or businesses also must be neat, friendly and able to deal with customers professionally.
Electricians work for construction and maintenance contractors, manufacturers, resource companies, and other large organizations. They must be willing to go where the work exists. Membership in a trade union is voluntary; however, some contractors employ only union people.
Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $30 to $50 an hour and may include benefits.
Electricians may advance to positions such as foreman, superintendent, estimator, electrical inspector, or move into a management role. Some electricians start their own contracting businesses.
Membership in a trade union is voluntary, although some contractors only employ union workers.
In Alberta, a valid Master Electrician Identification Number is required in order to pull electrical work permits. Alberta-certified electricians may apply to the Alberta Safety Codes Council to become Master Electricians following three years of certification (see http://www.safetycodes.ab.ca/ME/Pages/default.aspx).
To work as an electrician in Alberta, a person must be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, or hold a valid recognized credential.
Individuals possessing a valid recognized credential in Alberta are eligible to receive a Blue Seal business credential after completing the necessary requirements.
The term of apprenticeship for an electrician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 8 weeks of technical training in each of the first three years, and a minimum of 1350 hours of on-the-job training and 12 weeks of technical training in the fourth year.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the electrician trade or holds a related journeyperson certificate and has the employer's recommendation, may qualify for credit that could reduce the term of apprenticeship. Inquiries about credit for previously completed courses of study or work experience can be directed to an apprentice representative at any Apprenticeship and Industry Training Office.
- A person who has previous training or work experience in the trade and wants to determine their level of skill and knowledge for entry or advanced standing in an apprenticeship program may complete the online Prior Learning Assessment Application. For more information, see the online Prior Learning Assessment Guide.
- A high school student can become an apprentice and gain credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time under the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).
To learn the skills required of a electrician in Alberta and be issued an Alberta Journeyman Certificate, a person must:
- satisfy the entrance requirements or pass the entrance exam (see Entrance Level Competencies, Exam Counselling Sheet, Entrance Exam Study Guide, and Entrance Exam Support Materials List)
- find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice
Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates and may select apprentices from among their current employees.
- complete the online Apprenticeship Application and Contract
- pay the non-refundable application fee as part of the application process
- complete the required on-the-job training
- during on-the-job training, apprentice electricians earn at least 50 percent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 60 percent in the second, 70 percent in the third, and 80 percent in the fourth year.
- complete all of the program requirements as identified in the course outline
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for electrician apprentices, and a time to attend training
- determine requirements for enrolling at the selected institution, and forward completed enrolment form to the selected institution
- review books and materials required for training
- successfully complete all required exams
Apprentices involved in the Career and Technology Studies (CTS) stream in high school may be eligible for credit towards their apprenticeship first period training.
Apprentices are encouraged to prepare for and write the Interprovincial Exam in the final period of their training and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal.
When apprentices attend technical training, they are required to pay the applicable tuition fee and purchase course supplies.
Student loans, grants, scholarships and other financial assistance may be available. For more information see Financial Assistance, visit an Apprenticeship and Industry Training office or call toll-free to 1-800-248-4823.
An electrician who holds a valid trade certificate from Alberta or from another Canadian province or territory may apply to write the Interprovincial Exam and, if successful, be granted a Red Seal under the Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program. The Red Seal is recognized throughout most of Canada.
For a Qualification Certificate based on a recognized credential or work experience, in order to prepare for the exam(s) please refer to the Exam Counselling Sheets and review available resource materials.
The Electrician Qualification Certificate Program-Based on Work Experience is participating in a pilot project that creates an alternate route for the verification of trade competencies, called the Trade Competency Verification (TCV) Pilot. See the TCV Fact Sheet for details and the Electrician TCV Sample Book.
Time spent on supervisory or foreman duties, counter work, heading the tool crib, or on training course is NOT counted as 'hands-on' work experience.
A person who holds a valid recognized credential does not require an Alberta equivalency document to work in the trade in Alberta.
However, some employers may require Alberta documentation as proof that the holder is allowed to work in the trade or that the holder's credential is recognized.
More information regarding the Equivalency Program can be found here.