This article is written for a female wanting to become an electrician in Canada 🙂.
Electricians are also called “Sparky’s” on a jobsite!
Hopefully this makes the process easy for you to figure out if an electrician is a career you’d like to pursue. I’ve written it to prepare you for the pros, cons, and common questions!
READ: How to become an electrician in Canada (for male/female).
Here’s some pictures of my work in a commercial setting (you will learn about commercial vs. residential electrician below).
You can learn about me – I was an electrician for 10 years in Canada, finished all my schooling, but pursued my passion of beatmaking education. (I just use this website to teach what I’ve learned through my years as an electrician!)
Being an electrician taught me A LOT about life skills, provided a good income to move ahead in life, and presented many opportunities I would have never imagined.
What We Cover in this Article:
- What Does an Electrician Do?
- Different Types of Electricians
- How Does the Schooling Work?
- What Hours Do Electrician’s Work?
- What Tools Do I Need as an Electrician?
- Where to Go to the Washroom (and How Breaks Work)
- What’s the Worst Part of Being an Electrician?
- How to Get Started
What Does an Electrician Do?
An electrician has a lot of responsibility on the job. It can be very rewarding, repetitive, and dangerous. The pay is pretty good, but make sure you’re at a good company (as how they treat you and how much an electrician gets paid differs from company to company!)
In short, electricians deal with a lot of wires, and provide power for people to use their electrical devices like their TVs, Computers, Ovens, Fridges, Motors, and anything else that requires electricity!
A bit longer, electricians typically drill holes, pull wires, staple the wires to secure them, strip wire jacket off the wire, enter the wires into electrical boxes, strip single conductor insulation, then splice wires during the rough-in stage. (In a commercial setting, there’s a lot of pipe bending [which a lot of people enjoy], and then we pull wires into the pipes).
An electrical inspector is then called out to check an electrician’s work in the rough-in stage. If approved, insulators and drywallers then seal up the walls and ceilings, then the job transitions into the finishing stage.
The finishing stage is when electricians install lights, plugs, switches, put on cover plates, and if working in a commercial building, fire alarm and security systems!
Electricians are one of the first trades on the jobsite, and one of the last to leave.. that is good news for job security, which means there’s LOTS of work for electricians!!
We also read electrical prints, and other jobsite prints to figure out what is going on. It’s very important you learn how to read prints, because they literally tell you what to do.. so always ask questions about them!
Electricians work on ladders A LOT, so be prepared for working at heights.
And.. always make sure to dress for the weather (leave a jacket in your vehicle), because you may also be out in the cold in the winter months (depending on the stage of the jobsite). However, there’s lots of times where you’re inside and there’s air-conditioning or heat, too!
Different Types of Electricians
There’s three main types of electricians in Canada.
There’s Residential, Commercial, and Industrial.
I would suggest Residential or Commercial for female electricians 🙂.
Residential means working on homes (personal residences). It’s a great place to start learning the basics of an electrician. (Such as.. drilling holes, pulling wires, stapling wires, stripping wires and splicing wires!)
Depending on your company, the residential scene can be “cookie cutter homes”, which are typical basic homes, and the environment can be stressful and fast paced (especially if new). However, you can also work on custom homes, which often give a much better environment and learning experience.
These are the questions you should be asking the company when you have an interview.. you should ask them what kind of jobs they usually get.
This residential setting is typically wood frame construction, which means lots of holes being drilled and wood chips. But it’s generally a fun environment with other co-workers and loud music being played. Work is expected to get done, but there’s a lot of good laughs and things to be learned along the way.
The commercial scene is a bit rougher, but you typically learn a lot more like bending pipe, and everything is just a bit “bigger”. The commercial setting can be easier going, but there are also crunch times, too.
Commercial typically means working on big box stores like a Walmart or a grocery store.. however it can also be things like schools, hospitals, or apartments and condos.
Working in custom homes is also considered “commercial” because they are much more involved than a typical home and have things like mechanical rooms for a pool, etc.
A Condo/Apartment is both residential and commercial because people live upstairs in the “residential” area, and the below is often a parkade where all the vehicles park, which is a commercial environment.
Because a condo/apartment is a multi-family dwelling, there’s also fire alarm systems, exit signs, emergency lighting, and other requirements needed in a public facility like that!
The reason you learn a lot as a commercial electrician is because you become pretty well-rounded, and get to experience many areas of the electrical industry.
An industrial electrician is quite a different type of electrician. Most often you are on the road, away from home. The pay can be higher, but the average electrician vehicle you’d see driving around on your local roads is usually a residential or commercial electrician.
I do not have any experience here, as I’ve only done commercial + residential electrical. I have worked with many females in both residential and electrical, and they were treated just like anyone else on the crew 🙂.
How Does the Schooling Work?
Make sure to watch my becoming an electrician video, as it breaks this all down in-depth, with my own electrical apprentice experience!
To become an apprentice electrician (it doesn’t matter for females or males), there’s two approaches you can take:
- Pre-Apprenticeship Program
- Go and Apply and Get Hired!
The Pre-Apprenticeship electrical program is a great choice because you learn both hands-on, and get your first year of schooling. You definitely come out more confident and prepared.
For myself personally, I actually just applied at a random electrical company and got the job! (My company offered an electrical hand-tool starter kit, and they showed me what to do on the jobsite!)
The Electrical Schooling Process
When you become an electrician, you become an apprentice, and enter into an apprenticeship. You are not locked in, and you don’t have to continue if you don’t want to, but there are grants available that help pay for your schooling.
Trades are a great choice because you get paid as you learn on the jobsite through your apprenticeship, and you even get paid to go to school through unemployment!
But typically, you work for 9 months, then go to school for 3 months.
You do this 4 times, as there’s 4 Levels of Electrical Schooling:
- First Year
- Second Year
- Third Year
- Fourth Year
When you complete your fourth year, you become a “journeyman/journeywoman” electrician. But you have one final test to take, and that’s your Red Seal exam.
This Red Seal is very important to pass because it means your electrical schooling can be used Canada-wide! Otherwise, your electrical schooling is just good for that province you’re in!
This is called your apprenticeship, and it’s a great way to make money, learn, and build a career. Once you get your Red Seal, you don’t have to continue, but you can always fall back on the electrical career if you ever need to. It’s a great financial vehicle to help you reach your goals.
As I mentioned, I was an electrician for 10 years, but my true passion was making beats and running my online beatmaking education business.. so after putting in my hours, saving up enough money, and working very hard to build my business on the side, I was able to move on from electrical.
Electrical is great career, and is tremendously flexible! If it wasn’t for electrical, I would be here typing this to you today.. I hope it’s helping!
What Hours Do Electrician’s Work?
Every company is different, as well as how they approach breaks..
But generally it was 7AM-3:30PM.
Good companies would offer you two 30 minute breaks (one coffee and one lunch), where one break was paid! Sometimes companies would only give you one 30 minute break.
A typical day is 8 hours, and you almost always get your 40 hour work week in (especially if you’re working for a more commercial company).
Overtime is not always available, as companies are often a bit cheap, but if overtime is present, sometimes it’s a good way to get ahead, and you often learn a lot in these overtime sessions, as you may work with new people, or see a different side of people.
If you have the option to do out of town work, many times it’s a great way to get ahead as they usually offer some type of financial incentive to go away for work away from home.
What Tools Do I Need as an Electrician?
When you apply for an electrical job, they will often give you an outline of what tools you’re required to have.
There’s two types of tools in construction.
- Hand Tools
- Power Tools
Typically, a company requires you to have your own hand tools.. these are things like pliers, a hammer, screwdrivers, wire strippers, and similar hand tools.
The best way to approach your electrical hand tools is an electrical hand tool starter kit.
I personally liked having two tool bags.. a power tool bag, and a hand tool bag.. it gave a great experience.
Some companies try to push you to wear a tool belt, but as an electrician, you can typically work just as fast WITHOUT a tool belt.. but it’s a fight you will lose if your boss is forcing it for everyone 😥.
Power tools are often provided by your company, but sometimes they make you have your own drill.. but the bigger power tools will usually always be provided like saws, and heavy duty drills.
Also, there are things called “consumables”. These are things like cutting blades, drill bits, AA and AAA batteries, safety glasses, ear plugs, and stuff like that. Companies provide these things for you.. if your company says you need to buy them, do your research!
Where to Go to the Washroom (and How Breaks Work)
Going to the washroom is a big question for females on a construction jobsite, and also a concern for men, too.
If you are on a commercial jobsite, there are portable washrooms (blue boys, portajohn.. etc).
Many companies have FEMALE ONLY WASHROOMS that have a lock on them! I guess this is because men are pigs and pee on the seat 😁.
But that is comforting for women, as they are trying to make the jobsite a welcoming environment.
When you work on a commercial jobsite, you are often there for quite awhile, so you get to know most people on the jobsite (all construction trades), and it’s a good environment.
However, sometimes if you work residential, or sometimes certain jobs, there are no washrooms available.. in those cases, you can often just drive to a gas station. It would be wise to have toilet paper in your vehicle if you think this will be a concern for you. (90% of the time, there was always an easy way to go to the washroom).
What’s the Worst Part of Being an Electrician?
Being an electrician is generally a pretty good job. You get paid well (depending on the province you live and your employer).
However, sometimes electrical can be repetitive. You can be doing the same task over and over for days at a time.. for example…
You may pull wires for days or weeks.. then you get into the splicing for days.. then you may spend days or weeks installing plugs and lights.
The work isn’t overly hard, and if you are working with a good crew, and company, it will give you tremendously better experience, especially if you have people WILLING to teach you the ins-nd-outs of the trade!
I would also suggest looking into new construction plumbing, as you often get paid a little more, and the work provides much more variety.
How to Get Started to Become an Electrician as a Female
So I hope this article helps you get started as a female electrician.
There really is no difference from a male to female wanting to become an electrician.
If you’ve never worked with tools before, it can be intimidating for both of us! But I want to assure you that typically your boss will look out for you, and assign you to work with someone who will train you what to do and make sure you’re doing the job properly.
You can do the pre-apprenticeship program, but it does cost money, and takes about a full year of your time, but it will build more confidence as you’ll see a lot of the common materials and tasks you’ll be doing on the jobsite.
But as mentioned, if you try to apply and get hired without knowing anything, that company will teach you as you go along.
At the end of the day, these companies just need workers to get more work done.
You can do it! 🙂
Leave a comment below if I’ve missed something out, or if it’s too confusing for you.
(Make sure to click the links within this article as I’ve created videos and many images showing how things work such as splicing, reading prints, and many other common things electricians need to know!)
Oh yes, there’s also a women in trades grant right now, too!
You may also want to be aware of these apprentice electrician jokes!