So, what does it actually involve being an electrician? This article is meant to explain the tasks of an electrician especially for you, who might be thinking about becoming an electrician one day and are interested in knowing what an electrician actually does out in the field on a day-to-day basis.
On a daily basis, an electrician is responsible for implementing and maintaining electrical installations. The most important part of being an electrician involves verification and safety procedures for making sure that new and existing electrical components meet the requirements of current electrical standards.
In this article, the daily tasks of an electrician will be explained further in-depth. The trade of electricians is in an ever-changing development, and an electrician is therefore required to do more things as the technological field expands.
So, What Does an Electrician Actually Do?
Being an electrician is one of those jobs, where you can plan all you want, but the daily tasks will almost always never go entirely the way you planned. Also installing a power outlet can seem like a simple task, but many things are involved, if you are to meet safety standards and procedures.
An electrician has tools and knowledge, and as an electrician gets more experienced the problem-solving in installing and maintaining electrical components gets easier. But the main thing to know is that the daily life of an electrician can be varied and also involves a lot of planning and preparation. The following things are work tasks an electrician has to be able to complete in a typical workday:
Planning and Preparation
An often-overlooked task and little-known task involved with being an electrician on a day-to-day basis are planning the electrical work. This includes being able to have the right tools, order the specific materials and manage the hours needed to complete the job.
Getting the right tools for the job: No electrical task will ever get done if you don’t have the tools for the job. There is nothing more excruciatingly annoying than being on the worksite ready to work, and you have forgotten to bring with you that little specific tool, that is needed. Being an electrician and being an office worker obviously need different equipment. Where the office worker often times only need a laptop for the daily tasks an electrician need tools such as screwdrivers, drills, measuring tape, ladders, and tools for verification and safety protocols.
Sometimes you will find yourself as an electrician on the 11th floor in a building, and you’ve forgotten one crucial thing, that is needed to change for an outlet for example. This takes valuable time out of a workday, and means other tasks will be postponed. Planning which tools is needed and bringing them with you is therefore the first thing an electrician needs to get in order.
Ordering materials for the task: Most times, if you are employed by a Master Electrician, and if the electrician contractor is structured appropriately, the materials will be provided for you. All you do as an electrician is doing the installing the electrical components. If not, you will do this yourselves, and an electrician sometimes needs to do this themselves – either beforehand or during the completion of the task.
Time Management: Again, if you are employed by a Master Electrician, the time required to do the job will be planned by them, but you will have to have some idea yourself of how long you will need. Related to this, while you are at the customer doing the installation, you have to treat your time as a valuable resource. But you also have to be realistic in your expectations with how long it is going to take to install a power outlet, a lamp, or cable trays. Because you will often, if not most, of your time, be surprised by other things, that you were not expecting.
A pro tip for electricians is to mostly overshoot how much time an assignment needs. In this way, you will be in a situation where, if the job gets done sooner the employer and the customer will be pleasantly surprised.
Verification and Safety Procedures
The most important part of an electrician’s job is to make sure that we are working in a safe environment. We have made a guide for how to make sure, that a typical electrical installation can be considered safe to work on here. In this guide, you will get an introduction to the important safety procedures such as turning off the power in the electrical panel and testing for a powerful current in a power outlet between phase and neutral.
Verifikation explained: Verification, in an electrician’s vocabulary, means to verify that the installation is working properly – before handing it over for public use. Testing the RCD is one of those steps involved. Another important measure is to test for a proper connection on the earth line and testing for insulation resistance (basically making sure that the phase and neutral are not touching each other). Here is just one example of the steps included in the verification process of an electrician:
Testing the Residual-current Device (RDC): The RCD is an important component typically found in any electrical panel. This is also commonly known as a circuit interrupter meaning. The RCD device is constantly measuring if the electrical circuit is having a leak.
An electrician tests the RCD by providing a self-imposed short circuit on the RCD itself. If it shuts off by doing this, it is working properly. This procedure needs – in theory – to be taken before and after any electrical work.
If the RCD is noticing any difference in the amperes (30 milli-amperes in some countries) running out and back, it will automatically turn off the power in the entire installation. The task of an electrician, related to this, is making sure that the RCD is working properly. This is important as in any situation where a person gets exposed to a leaking current with no RCD, this individual will be in a very bad situation as there are no appropriate measures for turning off the power.
Safety procedures: There is a variety of safety procedures that an electrician needs to know for both his and the customer’s safety. The list of safety protocols involved with being an electrician is long and rich in content. When you are in electrical trade school and working as an apprentice, this will actually be the most important topic, as both your employer and perhaps you also want you to be able to work for many years forward. In electrical trade school and in working as an actual electrician, the following are some of the things you will become very familiar with.
- Safety clothes and safety shoes.
- Ladders in all shapes and sizes.
- Working safely on a scaffolding.
- Becoming familiar with a variety of tools.
- Applying goggles and dust masks.
- test equipment such as a non-contact voltage stick and a multimeter
This list could, and should, be way longer, but in the measures and intent of this article, we will move on to another and obvious part of being an electrician.
Doing the Actual Electrical Work
So, you have acquired the tools, the needed materials and you or your employer have estimated how much time you need. Added to this, you have made sure, that we are in a safe work environment. Now is the time to get down to the nitty-gritty and hands-on electrical work. This part of the job can take many shapes and will take place in different environments.
But, if you have made sure to prepare for the job properly, this part can actually oftentimes prove to be the thing that takes up the least amount of time. Because how much time does it really take to install a power outlet? Sure, if your task is to install cable trays for an entire building it is a completely different story, and that just proves that the job of an electrician can and will be different from a day-to-day basis.
Customer Service and Up-selling
If you are working at a construction site as an electrician, you can go months and even years without ever interacting directly with costumer (as this is also chosen by some electricians for that exact reason). But most of the time an electrician will need to provide customer support when they are working as a standard service electrician for households.
The amount of customer support part can surprise new electricians, but it doesn’t have to be the burden that some electricians see it as. When working as an electrician at a private household, we are often there to solve a problem, and the customer is actually happy, that we are there to provide solutions.
To become a great and valuable electrician, especially for your employer and customer, you can also provide new solutions that will both make you more money and the customer a better electrical installation.
Documentation as an Electrician
The last thing to mention is a requirement but for most electricians also the most boring part. Documentation. It is a requirement for a bunch of reasons, such as making sure that any electrician working on the installation in the future can easily take over. One other reason to properly document as an electrician is to provide proof that you have complied with the right verification process and safety procedures.
Final Thoughts on What Electrician’s Really Do
As other professions might recognize, there is much more to a job, than the public might be familiar with. Surely an electrician needs to know his or her way around how to properly manage a drill and how to change a simple light bulb. As explained in this article the job of an electrician does involve many other things such as verification, safety procedures, customer support, and documentation.
It is not without reason, that the education of an electrician has been referred to as a minor degree in engineering, as an electrician not only works with electrical components but also has to know the theory of electrical circuits.
Being an electrician requires a broad skill set and the electrical trade is ever-expanding. So, if you are a hands-on individual who is not afraid to learn new things, being an electrician might just be the right choice for you.