By Steffani Cameron
Skilled trades in Canada have a critical shortage of workers, as older journeypersons stare down the retirement while job opportunities are booming. In fact, across Canada they expect nearly 170,000 trades jobs to open in just the next six years. At the fore are electricians, now critical to everything from home construction right through to green energy innovation.
The trades can be an amazing career for so many reasons, across all age groups, but when it comes to women and Indigenous women, it’s one seldom considered. With just 4% of the trades filled by women, they want women to know they can thrive in the trades. And while all the trades want fresh faces, one trade’s shortage impacts every industry, business, and home in the nation – the electrical trades. So, do you have what it takes to be an electrician?
1. Sometimes, people think you’re a nerd.
Ding-ding-ding! You love to learn. You’ve probably never met a Sudoku puzzle you didn’t like. Math is fun and you love solving problems. Anyone who’s good at STEM subjects is often well-suited for electrical trades. In fact, physics, algebra, and pre-calculus are used daily by electricians for figuring out load calculations, running circuit analysis, deducing panel and transformer sizes, and more.
2. You enjoy responsibility.
When it comes to keeping the lights on, that’ll be all on you. Some worksites will have other trades standing by while you’re hooking up the power or solving an outage, and nothing can happen till you’ve done your thing. But it’s cool, you work well under pressure.
3. Variety is the spice in your life.
Indoors and out, old homes and cutting-edge new builds, working alone and being on a team – all these are possible for electricians. If the idea of “the same old, same old” every day is something you crave, being an electrician won’t turn you on. Plus, there are other avenues – fire alarm technicians, security alarm jobs, undersea cable technicians, hospital call system maintenance, and more, and they all require an electrician’s ticket.
4. You’re not daunted by danger.
When storms roll in and power goes out, it’s electricians that save the day, and they do so in unnerving scenarios – foul weather, perched in boom trucks, scaling poles. They work in dark homes with high voltages. But you, you respect safety and you follow best practices, so you know how to stay grounded throughout it all.
5. You like money.
The BC trades training motto is, “earn while you learn.” If you’re adverse to student loan debt for enrolling in trades training, then you must be talking about some other program, because debt’s not a thing. Nope. You won’t just graduate debt-free, you’ll graduate with money in your pocket and a well-paid job in a world that’s increasingly reliant upon electricians – and if you get your Red Seal accreditation and move into green technologies, your earning potential may shock you.
6. You’ve always loved hobbies with dexterity, like beadwork, knitting, and LEGO.
What do these have in common? Fine motor skills. An electrician’s ability to excel is dependent on working with tiny wires and sensitive circuits. With great dexterity on your side, you’re a great candidate – provided you’re not colour-blind, since colours matter when working with wires. Other traits that work well for electricians include being observant, recognizing pattern behaviour, and taking care in everything you do.
7. You’re a fan of the future.
You love to know about future technologies. You’re dialed into the green energy movement. Maybe you’ve built your own CPU in the past. Great! Our future is wired, and electricians are the front-line people making it happen, not just in delivering the juice to run things, but in maintaining and developing systems, including stuff like computer-controlled relays.
8. Communication is a strong suit.
Being good at talking is a strong skill for electricians, since you’ll need to communicate with other trades, clients, and even civic authorities and inspectors. Writing is needed too. But if you’re shy, don’t sweat it, because you can work on engaging with others through your apprenticeship. The good trades communicators can go on to run their own companies or earn the big bucks as foreperson.
If all this has you nodding your head, thinking “that’s me,” then take this quiz to see what kind of electrical training might suit you best. Want to learn more? The Electrical Joint Training Committee runs regular open houses for women and Indigenous women interested in joining the trades, and you can sign up for the next info session on TKTK here.