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www.tradesecrets.orgElectrician

Electricians install, alter, repair and maintain electrical systems that are designed to provide heat, light, power, control, signals or fire alarms for all types of buildings, structures and premises.

Also Known As:Construction Trades
NOC Number(s):7241, 7242
Minimum Education:Apprenticeship Trade
Employment Outlook:Job openings: turnover plus new jobs due to below average growth in occupation in Alberta 2013-2017
Interests:O i m ; O i m

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Duties | Working Conditions | Personal Characteristics | Education | Employment | Salary | Other Information | Related Occupations | Related School Subjects | Related Field of Study

Duties

Duties vary from one position to another but, in general, electricians:

  • read and interpret electrical, mechanical and architectural drawings and electrical code specifications to determine wiring layouts
  • cut, thread, bend, assemble and install conduits and other types of electrical conductor enclosures and fittings
  • pull wire through conduits and holes in walls and floors
  • position, maintain and install distribution and control equipment such as switches, relays, circuit breaker panels and fuse enclosures
  • install, replace, maintain and repair electrical systems and related electrical equipment
  • install data cabling
  • splice, join and connect wire to form circuits
  • test circuits to ensure integrity and safety
  • install and maintain fibre optic systems.

Electricians specialize in construction, maintenance and other types of electrical work, or in specific types of installations:

  • residential (housing developments)
  • commercial (office buildings)
  • institutional (hospitals)
  • industrial (plants, factories).

Working Conditions

Working conditions vary from one job to another. Electricians who work indoors may encounter anything from clean, open areas to dirty, cramped spaces. Those who work outdoors may sometimes work on scaffolds. They may be required to lift or move items that weigh up to 20 kilograms. There is some risk of injury due to accidental electric shock.

Electricians usually work a 40 hour, five day work week and overtime when required.


Personal Characteristics

Electricians need the following characteristics:

  • good communication skills including reading skills
  • an aptitude for math
  • mechanical ability
  • physical strength and stamina
  • the ability to distinguish colours to work with colour-coded wiring
  • the ability to work in high places
  • the ability to get along well with co-workers
  • the ability to keep up to date with changing technology
  • creativity
  • the ability to do precision work.

Those who install or maintain equipment in existing homes or businesses also must be neat and have good customer service skills.


Educational Requirements

To work in Alberta, an electrician must be ONE of the following:

  • a registered apprentice
  • an Alberta-certified journeyperson
  • someone who holds a recognized related trade certificate.

To register with Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training, apprentices must:

  • have an Alberta high school transcript with at least English Language Arts 20-2, Math 20-3 and Science 10, or equivalent, or pass an entrance exam.
  • find a suitable employer who is willing to hire and train an apprentice. Most employers prefer to hire high school graduates. Courses in English, math and physics are particularly important. 

The term of apprenticeship is four years (four 12 month periods) that include a minimum of:

  • 1,500 hours of on-the-job training and eight weeks of technical training in each of the first three years
  • 1,350 hours of on-the-job training and 12 weeks of technical training in the fourth year.

High school students can earn credits toward apprenticeship training and a high school diploma at the same time through the Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP).

Applicants who have related training or work experience may be eligible for credit or certification.

Electrician apprentices may take the interprovincial exam in the final period of their apprenticeship training to earn a Red Seal (certification recognized in most parts of Canada).

Technical training is arranged by Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training and is currently offered at:

  • Grande Prairie Regional College
  • Keyano College in Fort McMurray 
  • Lakeland College in Vermilion
  • Lethbridge College
  • Medicine Hat College
  • the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton
  • Northern Lakes College in Slave Lake
  • Portage College in Bonnyville 
  • Red Deer College
  • the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

Lethbridge College, NAIT and SAIT also offer technical training by distance delivery. 

For more information, visit the Technical Training Centre on the Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website.

Outside the apprenticeship program, NAIT and SAIT offer two year Electrical Engineering Technology diploma programs. For more information, see the Electrical Engineering Technologist occupational profile.

Pre-employment programs for prospective apprentices and continuing education programs for journeypersons may be offered on an as needed basis by the institution(s) listed above or other schools.

To find more information on the certification process see Electrician Qualification Certificate Program Process on the AlbertaCanada.com website.

Section revised June 2013

Employment and Advancement

Electricians are employed by construction and maintenance contractors, manufacturers, resource companies and other large organizations. Especially in construction, there may be no guarantee of permanent work. 

Experienced electricians may advance to supervisory, estimator or electrical inspector positions, or start their own contracting businesses. Alberta certified journeyperson electricians who have the supervisory or management skills required by industry may apply for an Achievement in Business Competencies Blue Seal by contacting Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training. 

Membership in a trade union is voluntary but some contractors employ only union people.

In Alberta, electricians are part of two larger National Occupational Classifications: 7241 Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System) and National Occupational Classification 7242 Industrial Electricians.

92 per cent of people employed in the Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System) group work in the Construction industry

83 per cent of people employed in the Industrial Electricians group work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Over 18,900 Albertans are employed in the Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System) occupational group which is expected to have an annual below average growth of 1.9 per cent from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta. It is forecasted that about 359 new positions will be created each year in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. (Note: Since electricians form only a part of the larger occupational group on which this forecast is based, only a portion of the new positions created will be for electricians.)

Over 6,000 Albertans are employed in the Industrial Electricians occupational group which is expected to have an annual below average growth of 1.0 per cent from 2013 to 2017 in Alberta. It is forecasted that about 60 new positions will be created each year in addition to job openings created by employment turnover. (Note: Since electricians form only a part of the larger occupational group on which this forecast is based, only a portion of the new positions created will be for electricians.)

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Section revised November 2013

Salary

Journeyperson wage rates vary, but generally range from $25 to $40 an hour plus benefits (2009 estimates). Apprentice electricians earn at least 50 per cent of the journeyperson wage rate in their place of employment in the first year, 60 per cent in the second, 70 per cent in the third and 80 per cent in the fourth. 

According to the 2011 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey, Albertans working in the:

  • Electricians (Except Industrial and Power System) occupational group earned on average from $24.17 to $37.61 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $34.42 an hour. For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo
  • Industrial Electricians occupational group earned on average from $24.35 to $44.13 an hour. The mean wage for this group was $35.72 an hour. For more detailed information, see WAGEinfo
Section revised February 2012

Other Sources of Information

Alberta Apprenticeship and Industry Training website: tradesecrets.alberta.ca

Alberta Construction Industry "Trade Up!" website: www.tradeupalberta.com

Calgary Construction Association website: www.cca.cc

Construction Sector Council website: www.csc-ca.org

Electrical Contractors Association website: www.ecaa.ab.ca

EDinfo website: www.alis.alberta.ca/edinfo

Section revised February 2013

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Related High School Subjects
Science; and Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation (Electro-Technologies)

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
Trades, Industrial and Related Training

Produced April 2009
Top of Profile

For more information on career planning, occupations and educational programs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website at alis.alberta.ca, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

The information contained in this profile was current as of the dates shown. Salaries, employment outlook and educational programs may change. Please check the information before making any career decisions.


Government of Alberta, Human Services