Power System Electrician
Power system electricians install, maintain and repair electrical power generation, transmission and distribution systems and equipment.
In general, they work in three distinct areas: substation equipment, protection & control, and metering.
In the substation equipment area, power system electricians work with high voltage equipment such as circuit breakers, transformers, switches and switchgear.
In protection and control power, system electricians work with a variety of equipment such as protective relaying and controls and SCADA systems.
In metering, power system electricians work with a spectrum of recording devices. This work includes the calibration and installation of metering equipment (meters).
For more information regarding tasks and activities, please review the Trade Regulation.
Power system electricians work in variety of conditions. By utilizing safe work practices and procedures the hazards of working near energized equipment are identified and controlled. Shift work, emergency response and on-call duties may be required.
The work is most rewarding for those who enjoy variety and thinking up new ways of doing things.
To be successful in the trade, power system electricians must have:
- the ability to work safely and follow safe work practices and procedures;
- the ability to work with precision instruments;
- the ability to understand the theoretical background of their work;
- the ability to meet the physical demands of the trade;
- good physical coordination and manual dexterity;
- the ability to work as a team member; and
- be willing to adapt to changing work locations and conditions.
Power system electricians are employed by utility companies, large industrial facilities, and their subcontractors. Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $40 to $55 an hour, plus benefits.
Experienced power system electricians may advance to supervisory or management positions.
To work as a power system electrician in Alberta, a person must:
- be a registered apprentice, an Alberta-certified journeyperson, hold a valid recognized credential , OR
- work for an employer who is satisfied that the worker has the skills and knowledge expected of a certified journeyperson, OR
- be self-employed.
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 a power system electrician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1500 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the first and second years, and a minimum of 1425 hours of on-the-job training and 10 weeks of technical training in the third and fourth years.
- An applicant who previously completed courses of study or work experience related to the power system 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 toll-free at 1-800-248-4823.
- 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 power system 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 post-secondary graduates of technical programs, or high school graduates who have good marks in mathematics, physics and drafting.
- 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 power system 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, 67.5 percent in the third, and 75 percent in the fourth year.
- complete all program requirements as identified the course outline
- The PSE trade underwent a change in training in September 2013 when the training for first and second periods switched from common training with the electrician trade to common training in first and second periods with the powerline technician (PLT). Apprentices who completed training with the electricians will continue in the Old PSE program and use the Old PSE course outline while apprentices who are doing their training with the PLT’s use the New PSE course outline. The old program 3rd will be no longer offered after June 2015 and the old program 4th period will no longer be offered after June 2016.
- enroll in technical training
- select an educational institution that offers training for power system 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
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.
The power system electrician trade does not participate in the Red Seal Program.
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.
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.