Electrician Job Description
An electricians typical day is difficult to explain due to the sheer amount of different tasks an electrician can be doing. This will also greatly depend on his or her specific field they are currently working in. As an Electrician you will encounter a wide variety of challenges and learning opportunities.
New Construction Job Description
This list is by no means exhaustive but is a general guide to an Electricians Job Description. If you're working in the construction of new buildings or equipment then you will:
- installing conduit (metal pipe specifically designed to encase electrical wire) and then pulling wire through them.
- terminating (hooking up) outlets, lights and switches.
Residential electricians must also be able to read and understand blueprints and technical diagrams as well as the following:
All of the above must adhere to the National Electrical Code or it will not pass inspection. Yes everything gets inspected! If it doesn't pass then it has to be redone costing money and causing a lot more work than necessary.
Repair and Modify Existing Structures and Systems
After the construction all of these electrical systems must be maintained, modified or even rebuilt. Again all of this is an Electricians job. Installing new systems is actually easier in most cases than repairing them. The reason for this is that you have easy access to the components when building it. Once the walls go up or the scaffolding comes down it gets a lot harder.
At this point troubleshooting comes into play. This is one of the most difficult skills to learn but also one of the most rewarding. It is like being a technical sleuth. Mysteries intrigue us and we must solve them. Once solved bring on the endorphin rush. It takes years of training and practice to be a good troubleshooter.
You will use a variety of tools in the Electrical Trade; hand held, screwdrivers, wire strippers, pliers etc (carried in pouches), portable electric tools like drills and saws, hydraulic tools for conduit bending and cutting, testers like ammeters and voltmeters, thermal scanners, cable testers etc. During your technical training and OJT you will be taught how to properly use these tools and they will, in time almost become part of you.
Who Do Electricians Work With
As an Electrician you will work alone for long periods of time and work in teams or two or more. You will also work in collaboration with other trades. Alongside welders when bending and installing conduit (heavy industrial). With mechanical specialists such as Millwrights and Sheet Metal trades when working electro/mechanical systems such as conveyors, elevators, processors. With instrumentation people when working on oil and gas equipment. Alongside Carpenters, Plumbers and Finishers when working as a Residential Electrician. As you move up in time and experience you will also work with Engineers and Architects plus other senior technical people.
When working on existing structures and equipment the person who will help you the most is the operator. Equipment and Building Operators have intimate knowledge of how it works and can greatly help you find problems quickly. All in all you will work with a multitude of technical and trades men and women throughout your career.
Safety and the Working Environment
Safety equipment will be a big part of your work life. Electricians have a higher rate of injury than the national average (see our page explaining this) with common injuries being electrical shocks, falls, burns and other minor injuries. Protective clothing, equipment and eyewear are a must.
As an Electrician you will work indoors, outdoors, constantly kneeling and standing, in small cramped spaces, in wet and dirty environments, where noise and particulate matter (dust, etc) are a real hazard, at heights in man baskets, scissor lifts and on scaffolding plus in all types of weather and terrain.
Being an Electrician is a challenging and tough job but also a rewarding one in both money and enjoyment. It is not for everyone but it might be perfect for you!