But are you truly suited to become an electrician? What kinds of natural abilities do you need to excel in training, and build a successful career in this field?
How do you figure out if this trade is your best bet? Start by asking yourself these 7 key questions.
Consider the courses you’ll need to take, the skills you’ll need to learn, and what kind of career you want to have—and by the end of this post, you’ll know if electrician training is right for you. Here we go!
1. Are you genuinely interested in electrical theory & practice?
This is an important point, because genuine interest in your trade will keep you motivated during training, and inspired to work hard on-the-job.
Sure, you can choose a trade based on things like employment outlook and salary—but that probably won’t be enough to keep you going long term.
One way to answer this question is by looking at a course list for an electrician training program. You’ll see the theory and hands-on skills you’d learn in class, and continue building throughout your career.
A quality program covers topics like:
- how to install electrical devices, tubing, cables, and conduits
- safety training and protocols for electricians
- the rules and regulations of the Canadian Electrical Code (ECE)
- how to read architectural blueprints and drawings
- how to complete an entire electrical installation for a dwelling
You’ll also learn general skills, like how to use hand and power tools, but the main focus will be on safely and effectively installing electrical devices and systems.
Does this kind of work spark interest for you? (no pun intended!)
If yes, you have a key ingredient for building a successful electrician career—passion for the trade.
2. Do you know your career options as an electrician?
Electricians do a lot more than routine construction and maintenance work. Although this work is very common, and an excellent way to learn the trade, you have many more career options as an electrician.
Have you thought about which direction you want to go? Some paths require additional training, but as a skilled electrician, you can pursue a range of occupations, including:
- industrial electrician (working in factories, shipyards, and plants doing maintenance on industrial equipment)
- lineworker (working on high power transmission and distribution lines, insulators, transformers, etc.)
- network cabling/CATV specialist (installing, repairing, and upgrading communications networks for industrial, commercial, institutional, and office complexes)
- security & fire alarm specialist (installing and repairing custom alarm devices and security systems)
For more details on these and other occupations, take a look at this post: What Are Your Career Options as an Electrician?
Thinking about your career goals is a good way to determine whether becoming an electrician will get you where you want to go.
3. Do you have good fine motor skills and vision?
Electricians work with their hands, and need to manipulate small objects with precision and care. You’ll need a steady hand, and good eye-hand coordination to do this job.
Clear vision is also important—and you can’t be colour blind. Electrical wiring is colour-coded, so you’ll need to be aware of those differences when doing installation and maintenance work.
4. Are you reasonably fit?
You don’t have to be an athlete to be an electrician (obviously!) However, a reasonable level of fitness is important, because electricians spend a lot of time crouching, bending, standing, and climbing up and down ladders, stairs, and scaffolding.
You’ll need to spend hours on your feet, squeeze into and out of tight spaces, and be strong enough to do some heavy lifting once in a while.
Again, you don’t have to be in the best shape of your life—but you do need a certain level of strength, endurance, and dexterity.
5. Are you a strong team player with good communication skills?
Electricians rarely work in total isolation. You’ll have other tradespeople to deal with on-site, project managers to report to, and clients to keep happy.
It takes teamwork and strong communication skills to gain respect and earn customers as an electrician.
How would you rate your “people” skills? Can you get along easily with others? Do you understand what good customer service is? Can you be patient, polite, and flexible?
These are all key attributes for successful electricians.
6. Are you prepared to study math?
Electricians need math. They use it on a daily basis for things like:
- routine measurements (room dimensions, wiring lengths, conversions from watts to kilowatts, etc.)
- calculating voltage, current, and resistance
- calculating angles (for bending pipe and conduit around obstacles, for example)
A pre-apprenticeship electrician program will include plenty of math practice, covering everything from simple addition and subtraction, to algebra and geometry.
This process is key for building the problem-solving and logic skills you’ll need to succeed as an electrician. Not too confident in this area?
Don’t be discouraged. These skills can be learned and strengthened over time. We recently interviewed 4th-year electrician apprentice, Jon Kerr, who overcame dyslexia to successfully complete his program, and become an electrician:
“I was never good at math in high school. I was constantly failing tests, and barely passed grade 12 math. I had dyslexia, but it was never diagnosed, and I really struggled to make it through.
But at the end of the day, I put in the extra effort and I got it done. My electrician instructors were always helpful and supportive. If you have the drive, and are willing to work hard, you can master these skills.”
Get a good overview of the kind of math you’ll study in electrician school here: How Much Math Do You Need to Become an Electrician?
7. Are you ready for the responsibilities of an electrician?
If you choose to become an electrician, you will carry the responsibility of protecting others from electrical-related accidents and injuries.
You should never underestimate just how important this is. Installation and repairs that are done incorrectly, or failure to follow the right safety procedures, can literally result in death (you, a client, or a team member).
Jon told us he didn’t realize just how serious this responsibility is, when he first started training:
“At the beginning, I didn’t realize how important it is to follow lockout/tagout and other safety procedures. Over time, it really sunk in that as an electrician, people’s lives are in your hands. I’ll never forget the first really bad shock I got, just from being a bit careless. I won’t make that mistake again.”
And there you have it. 7 questions that should help you clarify your goals, and make an informed decision about your future.
Think this list is an accurate description of your interests, career goals, and natural abilities? Ready to take the next step, and learn more about electrician training? We’re here to help.
Use the links below to browse the Construction & Maintenance Electrician Program offered at the Pre-apprenticeship Training Institute—Ontario’s leading trades school.
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