One of the most common concerns among aspiring electricians is whether the trade is hard and physically demanding. In many cases, and in my own experience, being an electrician can honestly be challenging at certain times and even physically exhausting while simultaneously working in difficult environments. But how tough is the work of an electrician, really?
Being an electrician can be hard (and physically challenging) for most people due to strenuous work positions, heavy equipment, and constantly changing environments that require physical exertion. However, an electrician should have a healthy and long-lasting career for many years to come if they approach daily tasks correctly and cautiously.
In my experience, there are three common reasons why being an electrician can be physically hard and demanding. These reasons are the following.
There are truly numerous variables that can affect how physically demanding an electrician’s job can sometimes be. Furthermore, different types of electricians will be exposed to physically demanding work tasks to different degrees. This article will explore the three most common reasons why working as an electrician can be hard and sometimes challenging. And I’ll share my thoughts on why that is, as well as what to look for as a new electrician apprentice in the trade.
Is Being an Electrician Physically Demanding? (According to an Actual Sparky)
When I first started working as an electrician apprentice, I quickly learned what physical hard labor was all about. However, I wasn’t negatively surprised, since the “active” part was something I was actually looking forward to.
It truly took some getting used to on my part for the first month or so. One thing I noticed was that there was a lot of walking from one place to another. Add to that the constant carrying of tools and equipment.
Although I initially found these tasks to be taxing, I quickly grew accustomed to them and began to really enjoy being physically active throughout the day. I was finding that being active gave me more energy than my previous office job did, which was a huge relief.
The work of an electrician can be physically demanding for a number of reasons. The good news is that while these things may seem difficult at first, you will eventually grow accustomed to the physical demands. These are the common factors that I have personally observed while working in the electrical industry.
1. Kneeling, Crouching, Walking, and Crawling
As an electrician, you occasionally need to work in different environments in order to complete electrical tasks. Frequently, electrical components and wiring are hidden behind walls, in attics, or even below the ground. If your task is to install a cable under a floor, for example, you will be on your knees for the majority of the time.
The various awkward positions electricians frequently find themselves in are one of the main causes of physical strain over time. The best way to prevent injuries is to switch up your position throughout the day and wear appropriate work attire, especially when kneeling, crouching, or crawling.
Also Read: Is being an electrician a dirty job?
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.
Additionally, having some sturdy work gloves will be very beneficial in the day-to-day activities of being an electrician. You occasionally have to crawl around on all fours to get to places. This is significantly easier to handle if you get used to wearing knee pads (they take some getting used to) and gloves.
2. Heavy lifting and Carrying of Equipment
- 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.
Installing small electrical parts like power outlets and other small materials is just one aspect of being an electrician. You may occasionally need to perform strenuous carrying of supplies, tools, and machinery. I’ll give you an example of one such experience in the example that follows. I should point out that this example was one of my more unique experiences.
I can still clearly recall one particular physically demanding task I was given at the start of my apprenticeship. For several elementary schools, installing TV monitors took up an entire month. Projectors and whiteboards had to be taken down as part of the numerous tasks, and (I’m not kidding) a heavy cement block was used to support them.
Also Read: Is Being an Electrician Stressful?
Taking apart the old installation and transporting it to the junkyard took up the first half of the day. Over the course of the next few hours, the monitors were unpacked, electrical parts were installed, and the televisions were raised.
Even though there were frequently three people helping with the lifting, it became physically taxing to repeat this up to thirty times per day. Oh, and did I mention that each of these enormous machines weighed about 225 pounds? The entire team eagerly anticipated the weekend as the workweek came to an end.
3. Working With Your Hands Above Your Head
If one is not careful, the shoulder of an electrician can take a good beating throughout the workday. You will become familiar with shoulder muscles you might not have known existed as you install various electrical components above your head.
One of the most frequent causes of injuries is working with electrical components with your hands above your head, especially in the shoulders, neck, and lower back. Electricians frequently need to reach high places, like lamp outlets, which necessitates working for extended periods with their hands above their heads.
Also Read: How many calories do electricians burn?
When performing tasks above your head for the first time, you may use profanities out of pure frustration. This involves both physical labor and fine-tuning electrical components, and your shoulders will undoubtedly be sore as a result.
Working as an electrician for the past years has taught me a few things, one of which is that patience should truly be your friend. Additionally, you shouldn’t put any pressure on yourself to complete the task all at once. Even though you may want to impress yourself as well as others, your shoulders must remain strong for the next 30 years or so. No rush is necessary.
How Hard Is It (Really) To Be 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 Physical Demands of Being an Electrician: What It Takes to Succeed
As an electrician, physical fitness is an important aspect of your job. Not only does it help you feel your best and perform at your highest level, but it also helps you stay safe on the job. The key characteristics of electricians who are physically fit, in my experience, include the following approach to their work.
- They have established limits as to what they are physically capable of
- They prioritize their physical health and eat healthily
- They wear proper workwear and follow safety guidelines
- They are proud of being an electrician and like their job
- They don’t rush and don’t stress about the daily tasks
There are several (and obvious) reasons why craftsmen and electricians in particular have a reputation for being physically stronger than people in other professions. We perform actual physical labor, and as a result, we will physically adapt. And if you choose to continue down the path, you will as well.
However, you must learn how to maintain your body’s health for many years to come. You are already better prepared than most people because you prioritize your health, wear appropriate work attire, and are aware of your physical limitations.