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Power System Electrician

Duties

 

Power system electricians are employed in the utility, industrial, oil and gas, renewable energy sectors. The duties include the installation, maintenance and repair of electrical power generation (including coal, natural gas and renewable energy), transmission and distribution systems and equipment.

 

In general, they work in the distinct areas of power generation, substation equipment, protection and control, and metering. Each of these areas has their own physical and technical requirements.

 

  • Power generation includes generators, wind turbines, solar arrays, biomass and associated equipment.

 

  • Substation equipment includes high voltage equipment such as circuit breakers, transformers, switches and switchgear.

 

  • Protection and control include a variety of equipment such as protective relaying and various remote control and monitoring systems (SCADA systems).

 

  • Metering includes 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.

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Working Conditions

Power system electricians work in a variety of conditions including:

  • Maintenance, operations and construction
  • Working near energized equipment
  • Hands-on and computer-based work
  • Working indoors, outdoors and in all weather conditions
  • Working at heights
  • Working in confined spaces
  • Working in urban and rural environments
  • Working away from home for extended periods of time
  • Shift work
  • Emergency response
  • On-call duties

By utilizing safe work practices and procedures, hazards of the job are identified and controlled.

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Skills and Abilities

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 understand and master complex concepts and apply this to their work with precision
  • the ability to work independently and as a team member
  • the willingness to adapt to changing work locations and conditions
  • good verbal and written communication skills
  • the ability to coach and mentor
  • the ability to plan and organize
  • an aptitude for mathematics
  • high-level computer and networking skills
  • strong mechanical aptitude
  • the ability to distinguish colours
  • the ability to work at heights and constrained spaces
  • troubleshooting and problem-solving skills
  • the ability to be creative and innovative
  • the willingness to adapt and learn new technologies in the field

General physical requirements include good manual dexterity, continuous standing, frequent walking and climbing ladders and stairs, and occasional sitting, bending, kneeling, reaching, crawling, operating valves, pushing, pulling and lifting up to 25 kilograms.

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Employment and Advancement

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.

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Working in Alberta

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.

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Apprenticeship Training

The term of apprenticeship for a power system electrician is 4 years (four 12-month periods) including a minimum of 1590 hours of on-the-job training and 7 weeks of technical training in the first and second years, and a minimum of 1560 hours of on-the-job training and 8 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:

Most employers prefer to hire post-secondary graduates of technical programs, or high school graduates who have good marks in mathematics, physics and drafting.

For holders of an existing trade certificate, it can serve as your entrance requirement equivalency when registering in an additional trade.

  • 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 in the course outline
  • enroll in technical training
  • successfully complete all required exams
  • Technical Training Resource List
    • Each period of technical training will require apprentices to purchase specific resources and supplies.
    • Contact the training provider where you will be attending training for a complete list.

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.

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Interprovincial Standards Red Seal Program

The power system electrician trade does not participate in the Red Seal Program.

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Qualification Certificate 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.

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Equivalency Program

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.

Click here for more information on the Equivalency Program.

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