Skip to main content

Job: Electrician

Role: Electricians help to bring electricity into homes and businesses. They install, repair, test and maintain wiring, fuses and other equipment and systems through which electricity flows.

"The work can be anything from simple house wiring to very complicated fibre-optic connections," says Fred Black, a former electrical contractor and past president of the Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario.

Story continues below advertisement

Journeyman electricians, who have completed their apprenticeship and are licensed, are able to work with electricity up to 750 volts. Any higher voltage and they're considered power line technicians, which is technically another trade, Mr. Black says.

Salary: The wage for an apprentice starts at about $15 an hour, while a journeyman earns about $40 an hour, or about $60, when medical, dental and pension benefits are taken into account.

Education: A minimum of Grade 10 for non-unionized electricians in Ontario, or Grade 12 for those in a union, according to Mr. Black, who says Grade 12 is preferable, given the math required to do electrical work.

Electricians start off as apprentices. In Ontario, an apprentice needs to put in 9,000 hours of work, which includes basic, intermediate and advanced trade school sessions, to obtain their certificate of apprenticeship. Within 300 hours of completing their time, Mr. Black says apprentices can apply to write their certificate of qualification exam. After passing the exam and completing their hours, they become journeyperson electricians. They receive their certificate of qualification, also known as a licence, after paying their fees to the Ontario College of Trades.

By the numbers: There are about 86,000 electricians in Canada, according to Statistics Canada's 2011 National Household Survey. About 1,600 are women. Of the 86,000 total, about 15 per cent are self-employed.

Job prospects: "A tradesman can almost always find work doing something," Mr. Black says. "A good electrician is never out of work for long." He says that's because electricians are employed in a wide range of industries, such as mining and oil and gas, as well as construction, and film and television production, to name a few.

Mr. Black said he does not believe there's a shortage of electricians in Canada, as there is in other trades. "We still have more applicants than we have jobs for, he says. There are shortages in some parts of Canada, such as northern Alberta, "but there are enough tradespeople across the country that can travel."

Story continues below advertisement

Challenges: You have to be good at what do you and pay attention, or you won't get much work, Mr. Black says. "Holding a job is the first challenge. If you're a good electrician, you won't have trouble." It's also a highly technical trade, which requires various mathematical calculations and critical thinking skills. "Like any other job, you have to like it and you have to have a drive for it," he says.

Why they do it: A good electrician can almost always find work, Mr. Black says. The benefits packages are also attractive.

Misconceptions: It's not just simple house wiring. That's only a small portion of what electricians do, Mr. Black says.

Give us the scoop: Are you an electrician? Write a note in the comments area of this story or e-mail your comment to careerquestion@globeandmail.com and let us know what you would tell others who are interested in the profession.

Want to read more stories from our Salaries Series? Find more here.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter