If you’re planning to become an electrician apprentice in Ontario, you’ll need to follow a specific set of steps from total beginner to licensed journeyperson.
Those steps usually start with some kind of pre-apprenticeship electrician training. This is followed by a mandatory apprenticeship with a licensed electrician. And finally, you can apply to become certified and registered as a journeyperson in the trade.
So, what exactly is it like to work as an electrician apprentice? How long does it take to complete this stage of training, and what kinds of tasks will you do on-the-job?
Let’s take a look at some typical electrician apprentice responsibilities, and the strict requirements you’ll need to fulfill through the Ontario College of Trades.
You Must Get Certified to Legally Become an Electrician in Ontario
First of all, it’s important to know that Construction and Maintenance Electrician is a trade regulated by the Ontario College of Trades. This means you must obtain a Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) to legally work in this field.
To get your C of Q, you’ll need to:
- become a member of the College of Trades
- complete your electrician apprenticeship (and get a Certificate of Apprenticeship)
- pass the electrician certification exam
- meet registration requirements
- apply to become certified and registered as a journeyperson in the trade
Obviously, completing your electrician apprenticeship is an essential part of the overall licensing process. This is how you’ll prove you meet the College of Trade’s strict standards of practice for electricians.
You must show you have the skills, knowledge, and experience to work safely in this trade—it’s how the College enforces high quality standards, and protects the public from amateurs posing as professionals.
Electrician Apprenticeships Combine In-class with On-the-job Training
So, your first step is to become a member of the Ontario College of Trades. Then, you can apply for apprenticeship jobs in Ontario. Electrician apprenticeships take 9000 hours (or about 5 years) to complete.
That breaks down into:
- 8160 hours of on-the-job work experience
- 840 hours of in-school training
For example, you might work as an apprentice during the day and take electrician courses at night, combining your study of theory with hands-on practice. The biggest advantage here, is that you’ll get paid to learn.
Of course, there are many options for completing the in-school portion of your apprenticeship, including:
- online electrician training
- intensive, full-time electrician programs (that run for a set number of weeks)
- one day per week training
- night school programs
However you go about it, you must achieve both in-class learning outcomes, and on-the-job performance goals.
Your trainer will sign-off your apprentice training log book, to verify that you have met requirements for each designated skill area. This is how your progress is documented and tracked, as you work toward finishing your electrician apprenticeship.
Essential Learning Goals for Electrician Apprentices
The skills you must learn during your apprenticeship are laid out by the Ontario College of Trades. Your trainer/sponsor is responsible for assigning you tasks, and providing training, that help you develop those competencies.
The essential skills you’ll be studying and practising during your apprenticeship include:
- interpreting blueprints, drawings, and specifications
- applying electrical codes and regulations
- working with transformers, generators, conductors, and cables
- instrumentation and power distribution
- installation methods
- fire alarm and building systems
- electrical equipment maintenance
- grounding and bonding
- protective devices
The exact ways you’ll approach learning these skills on-the-job depends entirely on your trainer/sponsor, and the type of electrical work he/she does. You might become an electrician apprentice for a construction and maintenance company—or find work with someone who specializes in elevators, fire alarms, or power lines.
Just remember: regardless of where you complete your apprenticeship, the learning goals remain the same. You must fulfill the guidelines set out by the College of Trades, and your trainer must sign-off on your mastery of those essential skill areas.
It’s not uncommon to begin your apprenticeship with one trainer or company, and finish it with another—gaining experience in different kinds of electrician work as you complete your training, and check off that list of learning goals.
Getting Started with Pre-apprenticeship Electrician Training
One way to compete better for electrician apprenticeships, is to complete quality pre-apprenticeship electrician training.
Most employers are looking for apprentices who already have basic knowledge of power tools, electronics, construction practices, the Canadian/Ontario Electrical Code, and safety protocols.
The more you know starting out, the better chance you’ll have of landing a great apprenticeship with a growing company.
Pre-apprenticeship electrician programs typically include 360 hours of training, and offer classes both during the day, and in the evening. Courses include fundamental skills you can carry with you into your apprenticeship, such as :
- blueprint reading
- workplace safety (Occupational Health and Safety Act, WHMIS, Working at Heights, Lock Out & Tag Safety, Confined Spaces Hazard Awareness, etc.)
- how to use common hand and power tools
- electrical installation methods
- rules and regulations of the Canadian Electrical Code
The best way to learn more about electrician training is to talk with an academic advisor at a trusted trades school. The advisor will walk you through admission requirements, courses, and how to successfully become an electrician apprentice.
At the Pre-apprenticeship Training (PAT) Institute, we offer several ways to get in touch with an advisor, and explore electrician training programs.
PAT delivers electrician programs in Toronto and Cambridge, during the day, and at night. Use the links below to learn more…we look forward to meeting you!
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