One of the common concerns of aspiring electricians is whether or not the trade is particularly hard on the body. Being an electrician is obviously not the same as working in an office, as an electrician are working actively on their own two feet – all the time. And oftentimes in quite challenging work environments, that can prove to be physically demanding. But to what degree is the work of an electrician hard on the body?
For Electricians, the various work positions, heavy equipment, and shifting environments can over an extended period of time prove to be hard on the body. However, by approaching the daily tasks properly and with caution, an electrician can have a long and physically sustainable job for many years to come.
There are a lot of factors that can influence how physically demanding the job of an electrician can be. Also, different types of electricians will be more or less be exposed to physically demanding work tasks. In this article, you will learn more about the 3 common reasons why the job of an electrician can be hard on the body. And I will also give my own thoughts on why that is, and what to look out for as a new electrician apprentice in the trade.
Is Being an Electrician Particularly Hard on the Body?
When I first started out working as an electrician apprentice, I was a little overwhelmed about how different this job was, physically speaking, from my previous one. Before becoming an electrician, I worked at an office and was quite frankly getting tired of sedentary work. Therefore I obviously wasn’t surprised, that the job of an electrician was more physically demanding, as the “active” part actually was something I was looking forward to.
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Over the first month or so, there was truly some getting used to on my part. One thing I noticed was especially related to the amount of walking from one place to another. And added to that, the constant carrying off tools and equipment. While you will have most of the essential tools on you, equipment like drills, ladders, and materials were also something to carry on a daily basis.
While these tasks were initially straining, I quickly became used to them and started to really like being physically active throughout the days. Compared to my previous office job, I was getting more energized by being active, which was a big relief.
3 Reasons Why Electricians Get Physically Strained
There are some common reasons as to why the job of an electrician can prove to be hard on the body. The great thing is that, even though these things are initially challenging, you will mostly get used to the physical demands over time. These are the following common factors, that I have experienced myself working in the electrical trade.
Kneeling, Crouching, Walking, and Crawling
In your daily life as an electrician, you sometimes have to reach different locations, in order to do the electrical tasks. Electrical components and wiring will oftentimes be hidden behind walls, in attic’s and even under the floor. If the assignment is to install a cable underneath a floor, your work position will mostly be on your knees.
One of the common reasons why electricians get physically strained over the years is the various awkward positions they will find themselves in. The best way to avoid possible injuries, especially kneeling, crouching, and crawling, is to shift positions throughout the days and to wear proper workwear.
Luckily the clothing as an electrician includes knee pads, as a fixed part of your pants. This makes the task much more manageable, as many hours can be spent doing this kind of work. Knee pads also come in handy, when installing electrical outlets and reaching certain parts of an electrical panel.
Also, some heavy-duty work gloves will become a great help, in the daily life of being an electrician. While reaching places, you will sometimes crawl around on all fours. By becoming comfortable with knee pads (they take some getting used to) and wearing gloves, this becomes much more manageable.
Heavy lifting and Carrying of Equipment
Being an electrician will not only involve the installation of small electrical components like power outlets and other small materials. Sometimes you will also need to do heavy carrying of both materiel, tools and equipment. In the following example, I will tell you about one such experience.
It is important to mention, that my assignment is one of the more rare experiences I’ve had. Some of the more regular tasks that can be categorized as being more physically demanding has been in relation to mostly:
- Carrying electrical tools like drills, heavy duty wire-cutters and specialized machinery.
- Lifting and transportation of ladders and steel scaffolding.
- Installation of heavy lamps in high places.
I remember a particular physically straining task, I was assigned to at the beginning of my apprenticeship. It was an entire month of installing tv monitors for a number of elementary schools. The multiple tasks included taking down projectors and whiteboards, with a mechanism of being held up by a heavy cement block (I’m not kidding).
Also Read: Is Being an Electrician Stressful?
The first half of the day involved taking the former installation apart and taking it to the junkyard. The next few hours included unpacking of monitors, installation of electrical components, and lifting up the tv monitors. Even though we were oftentimes three people doing the lifting, doing this up to thirty times a day became quite physically straining. Oh, and did I mention, that these monstrous devices were about 225lb each? When the week came to an end, the entire team looked very much forward to the weekend.
Working With Your Hands Above Your Head
The shoulder of an electrician can, if one is not being careful, take a good beating throughout the workdays. In order to install various electrical components above your head, you will get to be familiar with some muscles in the shoulder, that you might not think you had.
Working with electrical components with the hands above your head is one of the most common reasons for developing injuries, especially in the shoulders, neck, and also lower back. Electricians will often need to reach high places like lamp outlets, which requires the individual to work with their hands above the head for extended periods.
The first few times when doing tasks above your head possibly involve some swear words out of pure frustration. This is a combination of both the physical task and fine-tuning of electrical components, where the shoulders will almost certainly be giving you a hard time.
One of the things, I have learned over the past years working as an electrician, is that patience really should become your friend. And you should not pressure yourself to get the task done all in one time. Sure you want to impress others and maybe even yourself, but you need to have healthy shoulders for the next 30 years or so. No need to rush.
Worried About the Physical Aspect of Being an Electrician?
I get it. I’m right there with you because I’ve been there myself. Will I be able to handle the physical demands of working as an electrician on a daily basis? And what about the long term? One key takeaway is that the physical part becomes way easier as the days, weeks, and months pass by.
I have seen several electricians in their 60’s thriving while working actively throughout the day. However, I have also seen young journeymen with physical problems early on in their careers. Obviously, genetics play a big role in how much your body can handle.
The key things, that I’ve noticed about the electricians that thrive physically, have the following way of approaching their work.
- They prioritize their physical health and eat healthy
- They have established limits as to what they are physically capable of
- They wear proper workwear and follow safety guidelines
- They are proud of being an electrician and like their job
- They dont rush and dont stress about the daily tasks
There’s a reason why electricians and craftsmen, in general, have a reputation of being more physically tough than other professions. We do actual physical work, and will by consequence also adapt physically. And so will you, if you decide to stay on the path. Although, you need to know how to keep your body healthy for the many years to come. By prioritizing your health, wearing proper workwear, and knowing your physical capabilities, you are already more prepared than most.