Guides to Occupations
 

Working in the Electricians Industry

 

Overview of the Industry

In BC there is a shortage of skilled electricians caused by the retirement of the baby-boomer generation combined with the anticipated increase in construction. As such, electrical contractors are once again seeking men and women who are prepared to learn an electrical trade.

Source: A Career as an Electrician: Becoming an Electrician in BC
http://www.ejtc.org/electrician-apprenticeships/become-an-electrician.aspx

Because electricity is used for a variety of purposes, including climate control, security and communications, electricians need to be proficient in many applications of electricity. They are employed by electrical contractors, maintenance departments of large institutions such as hospitals or industrial plants, or they may be self-employed. Electricians work on new construction sites and on renovations to existing buildings. They ensure that all electrical connections are safe and meet the electrical code.

Electricians interpret architectural drawings and electrical code specifications at construction sites. They install lighting fixtures and electrical equipment as well as connect electrical wire to fixtures and components to form circuits, according to the plans. Also, they test circuits to ensure the compatibility and safety of systems. In many cases, they are called on to troubleshoot faults in electrical and electronic systems as well as to connect sound and visual communication equipment, signalling devices and heating and cooling systems. At some sites, they conduct preventive maintenance programs.

Source: British Columbia Electrical Association. http://www.bcea.bc.ca/electrician.php

There are three main categories of electricians:

  • Electricians (except industrial & power systems) primarily employed by electrical contractors
  • Industrial electricians primarily employed by electrical contractors and heavy industry maintenance departments: factories, plants, pulp mills, mines, shipyards, and other industrial establishments
  • Power System electricians primarily by electric power generation, transmission, and distribution companies
 

Employment Outlook in BC

Region Estimated Employment 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Average Annual % Change (2010-2015)
Vancouver Island 2,080 2,520 4.2%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 6,720 7,300 1.7%
Thompson-Okanagan 1,520 1,460 -0.9%
Kootenay 420 470 2.3%
Cariboo 360 320 -1.9%
North Coast & Nechako 130 350 33.6%
Northeast 230 280 4.6%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions. http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/LabourIncome/OtherData/RegionalEmploymentProjections.aspx

The chart above provides job openings projections for Electricians within BC regions.

The chart below provides job openings projections for Industrial Electricians within BC regions:

Region Estimated Employment 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Average Annual % Change (2010-2015)
Vancouver Island 590 610 0.8%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 1,450 1,600 2.0%
Thompson-Okanagan 520 540 0.8%
Kootenay 270 290 1.0%
Cariboo 270 280 1.3%
North Coast & Nechako 150 180 4.4%
Northeast 150 180 3.6%

The chart below provides job openings projections for Power Systems Electricians within BC regions:

Region Estimated Employment 2010 Estimated Employment 2015 Average Annual % Change (2010-2015)
Vancouver Island 60 80 4.8%
Lower Mainland/Southwest 230 220 -0.4%
Thompson-Okanagan 100 100 0.7%
Kootenay 30 40 5.7%
Cariboo 30 20 -7.3%
North Coast & Nechako 10 10 -8.1%
Northeast 20 20 -1.9%

Source: Regional Employment Projections, BC Stats. Projections for development regions.
http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/LabourIncome/OtherData/RegionalEmploymentProjections.aspx

You can learn more about working as an electrician in BC from:
    Work BC http://www.workbc.ca
  • Electricians (construction and maintenance) [search 7241 and choose “occupation profile”]
  • Industrial Electricians [search 7242 and choose “occupation profile”]
  • Power System Electricians [search 7243 and choose “occupation profile”]

 

Duties

Electricians (except industrial and power system) perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Read and interpret drawings, circuit diagrams, and electrical code specifications to determine wiring layouts for new or existing installations
  • Pull wire through conduits and through holes in walls and floors
  • Install brackets and hangers to support electrical equipment
  • Install, replace, and repair lighting fixtures and electrical control and distribution equipment, such as switches, relays, and circuit breaker panels
  • Splice, join, and connect wire to fixtures and components to form circuits
  • Test continuity of circuits using test equipment to ensure compatibility and safety of system following installation, replacement, or repair
  • Troubleshoot and isolate faults in electrical and electronic systems and remove and replace faulty components
  • Connect electrical power to audio and visual communication equipment, signalling devices, and heating and cooling systems
  • Conduct preventive maintenance programs and keep maintenance records.

From: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=7241

Industrial electricians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Read and interpret drawings, blueprints, schematics, and electrical code specifications to determine layout of industrial electrical equipment installations
  • Install, examine, replace, or repair electrical wiring, receptacles, switch boxes, conduits, feeders, fibre-optic and coaxial cable assemblies, lighting fixtures, and other electrical components
  • Test electrical and electronic equipment and components for continuity, current, voltage, and resistance
  • Maintain, repair, install, and test switchgear, transformers, switchboard meters, regulators, and reactors
  • Maintain, repair, test, and install electrical motors, generators, alternators, industrial storage batteries, and hydraulic and pneumatic electrical control systems
  • Troubleshoot, maintain, and repair industrial, electrical, and electronic control systems and other related devices
  • Conduct preventive maintenance programs and keep maintenance records
  • May install, maintain, and calibrate industrial instrumentation and related devices.

From: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=7242

Power system electricians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • Install and maintain electrical power distribution equipment such as transformers, generators, voltage regulators, switches, circuit breakers, capacitors, inductors, and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems
  • Install and maintain electrical equipment and apparatus in generating stations or powerhouses
  • Inspect and test installed electrical equipment and apparatus to locate electrical faults and check their operation using volt meters, ammeters, and other electrical test instruments and equipment
  • Repair or replace faulty electrical equipment and apparatus
  • Complete test and maintenance reports.

From: http://www5.hrsdc.gc.ca/NOC/English/NOC/2011/QuickSearch.aspx?val65=7243

 

Industry Sectors and Types of Employers

Electricians (except industrial and power system)
Electricians in this unit group lay out, assemble, install, test, troubleshoot, and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, control devices, and related equipment in buildings and other structures. They are employed by electrical contractors and maintenance departments of buildings and other establishments, or they may be self-employed.

Industrial Electricians
Industrial electricians install, maintain, test, troubleshoot, and repair industrial electrical equipment and associated electrical and electronic controls. They are employed by heavy industry and maintenance departments of factories, plants, mines, shipyards, and other industrial establishments. Some electricians specialize in restorative, insurance, or retrofit work rather than new construction.

Power System Electricians
Power system electricians install, maintain, test, and repair electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution system equipment and apparatus. They are employed by electric power generation, transmission, and distribution companies.

 

Wages and Salaries in the Industry

Fully-qualified journeyperson electricians who work on a full-time basis often earn somewhere between $35,000 and $75,000 a year. Contractors who operate their own businesses can earn well over $75,000 a year. Industrial electricians tend to earn more than electricians in other specialities. 

Apprentices earn a percentage of a fully trained, or “journeyperson,” electrician’s salary as they train. Usually this means they begin by making about 50% of what a journeyperson makes. They then receive increases in pay as they complete each year of their apprenticeship. Apprentices can earn anywhere from $9 to $27 an hour. If they work 40 hours a week, this translates to about $19,000 to $56,000 a year.

Work BC provides average salaries in BC for each type of electrician:

Electricians (except industrial and power systems)

Power Systems Electricians and Industrial Electricians

Source: Work BC http://www.workbc.ca

 

Typical Hours of Work

Electricians typically work 8 hour days, 5 days a week. This may vary for independent electrical contractors, depending on the work available. Some contractors work 12 to 14 hour days. Electricians usually work 1 weekend a month and take 2 to 3 weeks of vacation in a year. Maintenance electricians may have to work evenings and weekends on a regular basis, and may be on-call when not at work.

Source: From Career Cruising database (Profile for Electrician). http://www.vpl.ca/extDB/login.remoteDB?CareerCruising