Essential skills for success as a construction electrician

Construction electricians use essential skills to complete trade-related tasks. Use this fact sheet to:

  • learn how essential skills are used on the job;
  • find out the skills you need to succeed in your trade; and
  • help prepare yourself for your career.

Reading

  • Read completed forms, such as purchase order agreements.
  • Read instructions for installing equipment, such as light fixtures or electric heaters.
  • Read Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for information on hazardous materials.
  • Read notes explaining the sequence of operations when wiring controls for mechanical equipment.
  • Read safety manuals.
  • Read and understand the Canadian Electrical Code, which contains legal and highly technical language.
  • Read other tradespersons' plans and specifications to understand the sequences of installation and locations of apparatus.

Document use

  • Read digital displays, gauges and dials on measuring devices.
  • Scan Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) labels for safe handling information.
  • Read a list of worksite procedures for each new worksite, such as information on the voltage being used.
  • Complete time cards with information, such as the number of hours worked.
  • Read invoices and packing slips to check and cross reference materials received.
  • Study maps and refer to directions to find job sites.
  • Read and integrate information from several diagrams in a repair manual to troubleshoot a problem.
  • Interpret drawings when installing, assembling or repairing electrical equipment.
  • Translate two-dimensional prints into three dimensions when studying drawings and schematics to troubleshoot problems with electrical components.

Numeracy

  • Determine the correct placement of switch boxes using a tape measure.
  • Estimate the time and materials required for a particular job.
  • Calculate the average amount of power being used in a building.
  • Ensure that installations meet electrical code requirements by taking measurements and performing calculations.
  • Calculate a bill charging for time, materials and taxes.
  • Make calculations using angles, vectors and trigonometric constants.
  • Use formulae, such as Ohm's law, to design or modify electrical installations.

Writing

  • Write notes on pipes to indicate the wiring inside.
  • Make a list of materials needed for a job.
  • Record information about daily work, including hours worked, job locations and details of conversations about the job.
  • Write change orders for customers, such as to indicate items that were not included in the original bid.
  • Write a grievance report to explain the circumstances that justify an accident claim.

Oral communication

  • Talk to suppliers to order materials or equipment.
  • Relay messages, give directions and coordinate tasks with co-workers.
  • Discuss electrical code requirements with safety or building inspectors.
  • Interact with supervisors and other tradespersons to solve technical problems and to discuss work progress.
  • Discuss safety issues on the worksite during regular crew meetings.
  • Negotiate with other tradespersons when there are conflicts on a job site, such as the correct placement of an electrical outlet.
  • Interact with engineers, owners, architect inspectors and other tradespersons to ensure that work can meet scheduling and code requirements.
  • Exchange opinions with co-workers regarding critical safety issues related to complex installations.

Working with others

  • Work with a co-worker or team to complete installations.
  • Work with supervisors, owner's representatives, architects, engineers, inspectors and suppliers on a job site.
  • Participate in discussions about work processes or product improvement.
  • Demonstrate how to perform tasks to other workers.
  • Orient or train new employees.

Thinking

  • Decide what materials are required for a particular job and which supplier to purchase from based on past service and pricing.
  • Refer to several manuals for details regarding complex or unusual installations.
  • Refer to the Canadian Electrical Code to find relevant information on installation specifications.
  • Decide how to route power, taking into account potential obstacles, customer specifications and code restrictions.
  • Decide what type of wire to use based on variables, such as wet or dry conditions.
  • Seek advice from other experienced tradespersons, manufacturers' representatives or engineers to solve technical problems.
  • Decide where to place power services based on the layout required, code requirements and customer specifications.
  • Identify problems by reading blueprints.
  • Plan workdays to ensure efficient use of time and resources.

Computer use

  • Use spreadsheets to estimate costs.
  • Use software to control electrical equipment to aid in troubleshooting equipment failure.

Continuous learning

  • Stay up-to-date with changing requirements of the electrical code.
  • Stay up-to-date with changes in technology, such as computer controls.
  • Enroll in classes offered through unions, employers or other groups.
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