What do electricians do?

Kelly ReaburnApprenticeships, Electrical Sector, Electrical TrainingLeave a Comment

If you're thinking about becoming an electrician in Australia, you're probably wondering what exactly the job entails. After all, the process of completing an apprenticeship and learning about the industry via on- and off-the-job training is an extensive journey, so it's critical to understand exactly what sort of work you'll be completing at the end of the process.

While there can be huge variation in the paths that licensed electricians take, there are a few aspects of electrical work that are common to all of them. This is particularly true in the early stages of an electrician's career, when they've just completed an apprenticeship and are able to take on residential and commercial work.

Electricians are tradespeople, and their job is to plan, install and maintain electrical wiring systems.

What do electricians do?

Electricians are tradespeople, and their job is to plan, install and maintain electrical wiring systems across a wide variety of environments. These may be located in residential homes and commercial buildings, or even large pieces of equipment such as industrial machinery. Electricians may work inside or outside, depending on the particular circumstances of a certain job, and without their skills, everyday Australians wouldn't have access to the lights, televisions, appliances and equipment that are essential to modern life.

The daily life of an electrician is never the same, with the enormous variety of electrical work to be undertaken meaning there's always something new to learn, understand and master. In general, however, a typical electrician will:

  • Read electrical, architectural and mechanical diagrams or drawings.
  • Understand electrical specifications and electrical theory to determine job requirements.
  • Plan appropriate layouts for electrical wires and wiring systems.
  • Identify the right electrical equipment for a particular job.
  • Install lighting, power outlets, conduits, cable trays, ladder racks, circuit breakers and emergency lighting.
  • Carry out fault-finding.
  • Test, repair and maintain electrical equipment.
  • Connect electrical equipment and appliances.
  • Install motors and switchboards.
  • Install automated electrical controls.
  • Install voice and data cabling.

In addition, electricians are responsible for more specific jobs depending on their specialisations and the industries they choose to work in. For example, an industrial electrician will complete a slightly different set of jobs to commercial electricians. This may mean working with slightly different types of electrical equipment, but the core responsibilities remain largely the same – keeping the electrical systems used by a particular client in top-notch condition. 

There are all sorts of different tasks that an electrician will face on a day-to-day basis. An electrician's day-to-day can vary widely, depending on the specific job they're working on.

The electrical industry offers all sorts of different opportunities for specialisation and progression.

Progressing as an electrician

While the description of electrical work that we've covered so far is the most general form of electrical work that an experienced electrician will deal with, the industry also offers all sorts of different opportunities for specialisation and progression.

The first of these options is to become an expert in a particular area – such as electrical engineering, solar power or refrigeration. Not only does this approach make it possible to focus in on a certain facet of the industry that interests you, it also brings greater earning potential, thanks to the scarcity of expertise in certain areas, and increasing demand in areas such as solar. To effectively specialise, it's important to undertake the relevant training. This is an area where NECA Education & Careers is able to assist, offering a variety of short electrical specialisation courses that provide electricians with the additional skills they'll need to develop in their desired field.

Solar technology is one of the most common electrical specialisations.  As a growing field, the ability to work with solar panels is valuable to any electrician.

In addition to specialising in technical aspects of the electrical industry, many electricians decide that they'd like to be their own boss, managing a team of electricians and gaining increased flexibility over how, where and when they work. This can be a hugely rewarding career path, but as with specialisation, it requires a certain set of skills, which can be learned on a range of NECA Education & Careers courses tailored towards business and management.

Lastly, electrical contractors also liaise with clients directly, both before a job to determine the scope of work and afterwards when invoicing and securing payment. Again, this may vary depending on the circumstances of an individual electrician. Some may operate as sole traders and have complete control over what jobs they take on and how they interact with customers, while others that operate within an electrical business will have a safety net in terms of accountancy and support. Both approaches have their benefits, and the best working arrangement for a particular individual will largely depend on their personal preferences.

Ultimately, it's important to remember that no day is the same for an electrician, with the huge variety on offer within the industry a key selling point for many would-be apprentices. However, to take full advantage of everything the electrical sector can provide in a career, it's important to handle your training in the right way. That's another area where NECA Education & Careers can help, guiding students through the process from pre-apprenticeship to full qualification. To find out more, get in touch today.

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