what is an electrician?

An electrician is a skilled craftsman who works on electrical wiring for buildings and other structures. For safety reasons, preventing electrical wiring and components risks is essential. A poor wiring system is hazardous and eventually leads to injuries or fire. This position requires you to know safety measures, have solid maths and mechanical skills, and understand electrical tools and materials.

An electrician usually trains for at least four years in an apprenticeship, which is the first level. The higher levels are journeyman and master electrician. An apprentice electrician works under the supervision of an experienced electrician and has an apprenticeship licence to work on electrical components.

A journeyman has completed their apprenticeship, and the local government recognizes the individual as a competent electrical professional who can work unsupervised. The most advanced electricians become master electricians. They have several years of experience in the trade and perform supervisory roles.

Apprentices complete hundreds of hours of training to reach higher levels. The extensive training is due to the safety risks associated with electrical work. Since the electrician's and others' safety is at stake, the training is rigorous. You usually work as an apprentice for three to six years under the general supervision of a master electrician and the direct supervision of a journeyman electrician.

You have steady work as an electrician to install, maintain and repair electrical wiring for commercial, industrial and residential buildings. In addition, some electricians continue to study and work on sub-specialty electrical systems, such as ships, aeroplanes and other mobile structures.

Data and computing are growing technologies, and electricians also find work on data and cable lines. There are frequent job openings due to the growth in construction and vacancies resulting from retirement.

Would working as an electrician suit your diagnostic skills? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an electrician role.

electrician roles

average electrician salary

According to Job Bank, electricians earn an average salary of $64,281 per year. In an entry-level position, you earn $55,575 annually. With experience, you earn over $77,075 yearly. The earnings depend on experience, educational qualifications and additional certifications.

To increase your salary, consider earning a trade certification to qualify for high-paying roles. You can work on construction projects and other high-paying industries with a trade certification.

Would you like to know what an electrician earns? Where the highest salaries are paid for an electrician? Then download our Randstad salary guide and find out all about the salary of an electrician in Canada.


types of electricians

An electrician goes through an apprenticeship, followed by journeyman and master electrician roles. You'll choose one of these five specialisms in the field:

  • installation electrician: as an installation electrician, you install and lay down wiring fixtures and equipment. You install wires to commercial buildings and residences and connect them to transformers and breakers. You also make sure the connections are safe.
  • lineman: a lineman works on power lines, both overhead and underground. Your job is to repair and install electrical lines. You also check meters to ensure they work properly.
  • automotive or auto electrician: your job involves wiring ignition systems, heating and air conditioning systems and anti-lock brakes to ensure they work properly.
  • industrial electrician: you ensure electrical components in a manufacturing company function properly. You perform installation and maintenance duties.
  • maintenance electrician: you focus on keeping electrical systems up to standard in commercial, residential and industrial settings. You test voltages and repair faulty wiring.
blue collar worker in an industrial setting
blue collar worker in an industrial setting

working as an electrician

As an electrician, you can work in the construction or manufacturing industries. If you are interested in the career, here are the specific duties and responsibilities of electricians.


electrician skills and education

The educational requirements for working as an electrician differ by territory or province. Some of the requirements include: 

  • apprenticeship: the minimum age for joining an apprenticeship program in Canada is 16 years, having completed tenth grade. The apprenticeship program takes four to five years, and the requirements differ by province. For instance, in Alberta, you should register with the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and find a suitable employer to offer the training. You also require a passing mark in all 5 Canadian General Education Development (GED) tests or pass an entrance exam. The apprenticeship period should have a minimum of 1,560 hours of work experience and eight weeks a year of college work in the first three years. Complete 1,440 hours of on-the-job training and 12 weeks of classroom work in your fourth year. When you complete the apprenticeship program in Alberta, take an interprovincial exam to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most provinces and territories in Canada).
  • trade certification: if you want to work in the construction industry, you require a trade certification. Trade certification is not compulsory in some provinces like Yukon, British Columbia, and Northwest Territories. However, you cannot work without the certification in Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia. 

competencies and characteristics of electricians

You need the following qualities to succeed in an electrician role:

  • technical electrician skills: as an electrician, you need technical skills to complete your work. Apart from safety knowledge, electricians should have standard skills in installing cables, using power tools and repairing equipment.
  • teamwork skills: as an electrician, you need teamwork skills like communication and patience. People skills help you collaborate with others during a project. You can provide clear instructions and listen to constructive feedback from other team members.
  • problem-solving skills: as an electrician, you face multiple challenges that should be resolved promptly. You need problem-solving skills to rectify the problems and avoid further issues. Having problem-solving skills helps you assess different circumstances critically and weigh the diverse solutions for the problem.
  • physical skills: as an electrician, you need physical skills to lift heavy weights, climb ladders and scaffolding or stand for an extended period. Physical fitness reduces the chances of injury. Good vision is also crucial due to the colour-coded nature of electrical wiring.
  • communication skills: as an electrician, you require communication skills to relay information clearly, effectively and efficiently. Electrical contractors and technicians also interact with clients and possess strong communication skills come in handy.

FAQs about electrician jobs

Here, you will find the answers to the most frequently asked questions about the profession of an electrician.


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