Why become an electrician? There are all sorts of different benefits to embarking on a career within the electrical industry, from the various progression pathways available to an ability to work all over the country.
This all starts with completing an electrical apprenticeship – a process that countless electricians have gone through as part of their training. Just as importantly, an apprenticeship offers the opportunity to ‘learn while you earn,’ which means that you’ll effectively be starting your career immediately, learning via on-the-job training instead of having to waste time completing extensive study before joining the workforce.
Before you start, you’ll need to understand what to expect in an electrical apprenticeship, and how to get one in the first place.
Outstanding apprenticeship candidates are those who can prove they already have an aptitude for electrical work.
Securing an electrical apprenticeship
The electrical apprenticeship selection criteria in Australia can vary from employer to employer. In general though, the outstanding candidates are those who can prove they already have an aptitude for electrical work. In some cases this may be by demonstrating prior work experience in a related trade, such as construction, but for other candidates it can be a bit trickier to gain the necessary skills.
A great example of this is recent high school graduates, who may already know they want to pursue a career as an electrician, but don’t know how to boost their chances of securing an apprenticeship. One of the best options is to complete an electrical pre-apprenticeship. This is a 12-week course that provides graduates with all of the basic skills they’ll need to succeed as an apprentice, proving to potential employers that they’re ready for the challenge.
Regardless of how you go about proving your value as an apprentice, securing a position with an experienced electrical contractor or group training organisation is only the start of the process. From there, you’ve got four years of on-the-job training to look forward to including one day a week of schooling. The end result is a full qualification as a licensed electrician once you sit for your electrical A Grade licence.
An electrical apprentice will learn how to read and understand electrical plans.
Completing an electrical apprenticeship
As an electrician, you’re responsible for all sorts of different electrical systems and the technologies associated with them. Learning the skills required to complete work in all of these areas is the main focus of your apprenticeship, which combines on-the-job training with traditional classroom learning to ensure you have both the practical and theoretical knowledge you’ll need to succeed.
In the initial stages of your time as an electrical apprentice, your supervising A Grade will provide constant monitoring to ensure your work is of the right quality. Over the four years of the apprenticeship, however, you’ll steadily learn more complex elements of electrical work, while also operating more independently.
A few of the most important areas covered during an electrical apprenticeship include
- Safe work practices
- CPR, low voltage rescue and lock out safety processes
- How to install various cables
- How to understand electrical plans and diagrams
- How to fit off and terminate various cables and equipment
- Working with relays, control devices, motor controls
- Fabrication, assembly and dismantling of utilities
- Magnetism and electromagnetism
- Inductors and induction
- DC machines and measurement instruments
- Renewable energy
- Designing and wiring switchboards
- Heating and lighting
- Fault-finding and rectification
- How to interpret Australian electrical standards; and much more
At the end of your apprenticeship, you’ll receive the Certificate III in Electrotechnology (Electrician). The course also meets the Electrical Regulatory Authorities Council (ERAC) requirements for an Electrician’s Licence, which you’ll need to apply for to begin working.
Many electrical contractors decide to open electrical businesses, managing other contractors and eventually taking on apprentices of their own.
Progressing as an electrician
Of course, you don’t necessarily have to jump directly into full-time work as an electrician once you’ve completed your apprenticeship. If you’d prefer to continue learning and specialise even more specifically – in an area such as solar or optical fibre technology – there are plenty of other electrical industry courses available. These courses can be taken at any time during your career, meaning it’s possible to work for a few years as an electrician before deciding to further specialise.
Alternatively, many electricians decide to become their own bosses, opening electrical businesses, managing other contractors and eventually taking on apprentices of their own. This is a fantastic way to give back to the industry, and allows for greater control over the type of work you do, and how you do it.
Regardless of the pathway that you chose to take after completing your apprenticeship, the team at NECA Education & Careers will be here to provide support, even after you’ve completed your time as an apprentice. To find out more about the process, get in touch with us today.