Electricians (except industrial and power system) (NOC 7241)

Minimum education: Diploma, Certificate or Apprenticeship Training

  • Average salary
    57.5%
  • Occupation size
    93.0%
  • Job stability
    9.0%
  • Demand growth
    68.0%
  • Below Average
  • Excellent

Profile last updated: August 31, 2016

Please log in to save this profile. Continue to login page?

On this page

01 Overview

Electricians perform a variety of tasks on the electrical systems of buildings and other structures. Their responsibilities range from layout and planning of wiring to installation, troubleshooting and repair of circuits and electrical devices.

People in this occupation:

  • generally work for electrical contractors or building maintenance departments or may be self-employed
  • have an interest in mechanical processes and wiring
  • have an eye for detail and the ability to conduct precision work
  • need good physical movement and the ability to work in a variety of places
  • must be capable of distinguishing colours to work with colour-coded wiring

02 Earnings

Provincial median salary

$58,188

Source: Estimated median employment income based on 2015 Job Bank median hourly wage rate (median annual salary = hourly wage rate x 40 (hours per week) x 52.14 (weeks per year))

Provincial hourly rate

  • $14.00/hr
    Low
  • $27.90/hr
    Median
  • $39.32/hr
    High

03 Duties

Electricians perform some or all of the following duties:

  • interpret drawings, circuit diagrams and electrical code specifications for wiring layouts
  • pull wire through walls and floors
  • install brackets and hangers to support electrical equipment
  • install or repair various pieces of electrical equipment
  • splice, join and connect wires to fixtures and components
  • test the continuity of circuits to ensure that an electrical system is safe and compatible
  • troubleshoot and repair faults in electrical systems
  • connect electrical power to audio and visual communication equipment, signalling devices and heating and cooling systems
  • run preventive maintenance programs and keep maintenance records

04 Work environment

Electricians typically work 40 hours per week and may occasionally work overtime. Workers are usually indoors, though the work area can often be noisy and dirty.

Work may take place from heights or in confined spaces, and may require lifting of heavy objects. Safety is a big concern and precautions are followed to reduce the risks of injury from accidental electric shocks and falls from heights.

05 Workforce and employment statistics

Workforce characteristics

12,500 workers are employed
48 % of workers are working mostly full time

Employment by gender

Labour force by age group

Source: 2011 National Household Survey

06 Job requirements

Education, training and qualifications

To work as an electrician in B.C., a person must have completed:

  • secondary school
  • a certificate of qualification from the Industry Training Authority or registration in a four-year apprenticeship leading to qualification

For more information, please see the Industry Training Authority website at www.itabc.ca.

The electrician apprenticeship requires a combination of work experience and in-school instruction that:

  • typically takes four 10-week periods, with part-time and distance education available through some institutions
  • is available through secondary schools, colleges and technical institutes or by direct entry to the workplace

Interprovincial Standards Red Seal certification is available to qualified electricians through the Industry Training Authority. For more detailed information, contact the provincial regulator. A list of provincial regulators can be found at www.tilma.ca/pdf/BCRegulatoryAuthorities.pdf

Workers with 9,000 hours of documented, directly related work experience can challenge the Interprovincial Red Seal examination.

For information on public post-secondary education in B.C., please see the Education Planner website at www.educationplanner.ca.

07 Subject Areas & Training Resources

Education Planner

www.educationplanner.ca

Trades/Apprenticeship Resources

Industry Training Authority

www.itabc.ca

Trades Training BC

www.tradestrainingbc.ca

ACE-IT

www.itabc.ca/youth/programs#ace-it

Discover Skills BC

www.discoverskillsbc.ca

08 Career paths

As with many trades, apprentices are often chosen from a company's current employees, such as construction labourers. Experienced electricians can advance to supervisory positions as foremen, superintendents, estimators or electrical inspectors. Some experienced electricians may choose to start their own contracting businesses.

Some electricians may also choose to work as industrial electricians. This requires further education and is generally considered to be a lateral change.

09Employment outlook

N/A - Data not available or not provided due to data quality issues

Provincial Outlook:

Unemployment rate

  • 10.5%
    2015
  • 10.2%
    2020
  • 9.3%
    2025

Job openings

  • 470
    2015
  • 600
    2020
  • 380
    2025

10 Insights from industry

Demand for these workers depends largely on growth in the Construction industry. Over the last decade, low interest rates and a growing economy resulted in an increase in construction activity in B.C., which led to increased demand for electricians.

Over the next few years, the pace of residential construction is expected to slow, while industrial construction is expected to remain stable. Demand for these workers will remain, despite the shift in construction activity.

In general, those working as maintenance electricians tend to find more stable employment than construction electricians. Employment in the Construction industry is typically project-based, so workers may experience gaps in employment between projects.

Work performed by electricians is expanding to include alternative energy supplies, such as solar power, wind power and fuel cells, wiring for smart homes and automated systems for high-tech industries and complex computer offices. Electricians who specialize in new technologies are expected to be in demand.

11 In their own words

My Career Path

1.  How did you get started in this job?

I was helping a friend with a job. He is an electrician. I found it very hands-on and quite different from the work I'd been doing. I was able to use my technical skills and visualize things in 3-D, quite a change from working in a lab.

2.  What were you doing before you started the electricians apprenticeship?

I have a master's degree in physics from UBC and I was working in a research lab at the university. I didn't enjoy the report writing and all the paperwork I was having to do. Working as an electrician was a real change, though I must say my math and writing skills, and my technical knowledge, have given me the confidence to quickly figure out new technologies. That continues to help me in this job.

3.  If you knew then what you know about your job now, would you have done anything differently?

I started the career later in life and by the time I started the apprenticeship, I felt I'd learned to make good decisions. I really valued the schooling. I might have been able to get around it, but I also know that once you start working it’s re ally hard to go back to school. You just can't afford it.

4.  What would you say to someone starting out in this career today?

When you're starting out, get the best schooling you can. It'll be hard to go back and the education really lets you tune up your math skills for the context of the work. I also see a lot of people in this trade who don't have good writing skills. Even though I'm not crazy about writing, being able to write up a design and cost quotes really helps. If you want to get into supervisory work, it will be important to express yourself clearly in writing. Also it's important to learn all you can from some of the other trades. Cross-trade training can be really helpful. Electrical work very often resembles construction carpentry.

5.  Where do you see yourself going with this job in the future?

You know, I'm not too sure. I haven't thought too much about it because I'm still focused on the trade. Computerized control systems are becoming more common. I think that with my technical training and willingness to figure new things out, my future in this career might have some bright spots in those areas.

6.  What are some of the main forces of change in the industry right now? How will those affect you?

The main thing that's happening in the industry is the trend toward specialization in areas of the trade. It might not affect people who already have a wide range of experience in the trade, but it might mean new electricians have a hard time learning some of the different areas of the trade. That will make it harder for them to solve some of the problems encountered in this job. It will be possible to learn new technologies, such as computerized controls, through specialized training, and that will be an exciting opportunity.

A typical workday

6:00 am Annacis Island, B.C.- We have a big job today. We've been working on rerouting some of the power controls for the Annacis Island sewage treatment plant. Often on these big sites the power can't be shut down because of the critical machinery being operated, so we have to work quickly and to a plan.
8:30 am We've mapped out the power supplies. One of the relays on high load kept tripping the thermal shutdowns, which are the fuses that respond to higher-than-correct heat and shut out the offending power supply. Now we must run new conduit, which requires us to install armoured Teck cable between two junctions.
10:45 am We've switched a few of the wires. The work schedule requires that we switch the power supply back on at 11:00 am. The pumps can only be off for four hours before they lose their prime. We've worked hard so now we'll take a break for lunch.
12:30 pm The power supply is back on and it's time to resume the rewiring. The connections have to be wired and immersed in quick-set epoxy. I wear Nitrile gloves to do this task.
1:40 pm Those connections look good so we'll run some system checks because we're almost done.
3:30 pm We plug a laptop into the digital power switch controller and run some circuit testing routines. Everything looks good and its time to turn the power back on. Mission accomplished.

12 Additional resources