Becoming an electrician in British Columbia is about more than just learning how to splice a few wires together. Maybe you’ve already tried that once or twice. Please tell us it wasn’t a shocking experience! So, you think you’d like to be an electrician?
At Stapleton Electric we’re a bit biased, but we think being an electrician is the best career ever! But it’s not a cakewalk. Here’s what we hope is a realistic primer on how to get started and what to expect.
Generally speaking, getting electrical certification in BC is a four-year process. About 20 percent of your time will go towards technical training and 80 percent towards on-the-job training as an apprentice. The Industry Training Authority (ITA) leads and coordinates British Columbia’s skilled trades system. Their website is a good place to learn about electrical certification apprenticeship programs.
Your educational goal is to get the B.C. Certificate of Apprenticeship, B.C. Certificate of Qualification, and the Inter-provincial Standard Endorsement, also known as Red Seal. To do this, you’ll need to achieve a passing grade on the inter-provincial exam.
If you’re still in high school, you may be able to get a foundation level of training before you complete high school, depending on where you’re going to school. Your high school diploma or GED should include a foundation in math (such as one year of algebra), science (such as physics) and practical courses (such as electronics).
What skills do you need?
How is your numerical ability? What about your motor coordination, manual dexterity, and spatial perception? These are the essential foundational skills for aspiring electricians. It’s also important to be detail-oriented. Like any career, your success will depend on your willingness to both learn new skills and refine your existing ones.
You’ll need to use your head for this job.
The brainy part of being an electrician involves tasks like interpreting drawings, circuit diagrams, and electrical code specifications for wiring layout. It also involves testing the continuity of circuits to ensure that an electrical system safety; troubleshooting faults in electrical systems; running preventive maintenance programs and keeping maintenance records. No room for slouchy work — mentally or physically — in this career.
Like a good physical workout? You’ll be getting that, too.
Being an electrician can be a physically demanding job. The tasks you will be asked to perform aren’t usually as backbreaking as those done by a carpenter or a cement finisher, for example. But you can count on a pretty good workout– pulling wire through walls and floors; installing brackets and hangers to support electrical equipment; installing or repairing various pieces of electrical equipment; and splicing, joining and connecting wires to fixtures and components. Still interested? Practice your eyeball dexterity and read on brave one!
Let’s get (inter)personal.
Strong interpersonal skills and are a must for a career as an electrician, too. You need to have the ability to deal with other tradespeople — on a busy construction site, for example — as well as directly with customers.
Is variety the spice of your life?
The variety of work situations and challenges attract many to an electrical career. But if you thought it might be glamorous work, we’re not finished yet. Imagine yourself climbing a ladder in the cold and rain. Or, spending a time in confined spaces. Enjoy heavy lifting? These situations are likely to “come with the territory” of being an electrician– or a performer with the Cirque du Soleil.
Safety. It’s always a big deal.
In whatever situation you find yourself working, you’ll always need to be thinking about your safety, as well as the safety of co-workers and the population at large. (Again, like the Cirque du Soleil. But we’re digressing further.)
Is all this skill and training worth big bucks?
The average salary is a decent 44-53k per year. Is it all worth it? Only you can decide that. Still interested? Here are a few apprenticeship programs being offered:
If you decide to take the first steps to becoming an electrician, we wish you well. Maybe someday you’ll become part of our experienced, high-wire, low wire, wires-everywhere, professional team at Stapleton! Good luck!