The electrical trade tends to be one of the most sought-after apprenticeships, meaning there is high competition for the limited number of positions that are available each year.
Recent evidence has shown that obtaining an electrotechnology or telecommunications trade can have the best income return outcomes, followed by those in the automotive and engineering trades. There are also very strong labour market outcomes for electrotechnology graduates, only beaten by those working in the traditional construction trades.
So you might be wondering how to become an electrician and increase your chances of obtaining that lucrative electrical ticket?
1. Getting interested in Electrical – what does it really involve?
Electricians can install and maintain, repair and test electrical equipment and systems for industrial, commercial and domestic purposes.
But it’s more than just laying some wires and making sure it works. Electricians should have the ability to read and interpret complex electrical, architectural and mechanical diagrams to assess the safest, most efficient and cost effective electrical solution. Being able to visualise and interpret drawings from paper to the real thing is imperative for success in this trade.
There’s also the opportunity to specialise within the electrical field; there are significant opportunities for electricians within the sustainable energy sector, with the surging popularity of solar panels in commercial and domestic buildings (and a shortage of qualified tradies in that sector!). Electricians are also required in the automotive sector, within both commercial and civil construction sectors, and as specialists in the instrumentation field.
Did you know that Air Conditioning & Refrigeration apprenticeships are very similar to Electrical ones? You don’t get your ticket, but there is still an abundance of opportunities for those who are keen!
2. Study the right subjects
Electricians need to have a very high understanding of mathematics, and are usually required to have completed Maths B as a minimum in High School. Employers will also look favourably upon students who’ve shown an interest in scientific subjects, particularly Physics, as well as computer science subjects for technical skills. As with any apprenticeship, the electrical trade is extremely hands-on, so any manual subjects are a good aptitude indicator as well.
These subjects help you to understand how things work, how they fit together and allow you to apply logic and problem-solving skills – all extremely important when working with electricity!
3. Obtain the right skills
Doing the right subjects are a great start on your road to becoming a licenced electrician, but there are important everyday skills you should be able to demonstrate to ensure a successful future in the industry. Developing your people skills is very important, as electricians are usually involved in face to face customer interaction. You should be able to clearly and concisely explain what your intentions are for the job and how it will affect your customers.
It’s worth mentioning here that electricians need to have normal colour vision – so important when selecting the right wire! Electricians should also have good physical fitness and manual dexterity, as you will sometimes be working with very small objects. You should have a demonstrated ability to work within strict deadlines and be able to demonstrate strong time management and organisational skills.
4. Sign up for industry experience
After selecting the right subjects at school, we highly recommend electrical hopefuls do what they can to get relevant experience. Many employers will only look at electrical apprentice applicants who have previously completed some kind of pre-apprenticeship course, usually resulting in a Certificate II in Electrotechnology. These are valuable learning experiences that will not only set you apart and give you an advantage over other applicants, but also gives you a taste of the trade and proves your commitment to being an electrician.
Did you know that school-based apprenticeships and traineeships can roll over into full-time apprenticeships after imparting valuable knowledge and work experience while still at school?
5. Complete an apprenticeship!
Electricians must have completed their trade and obtained their electrical licence to be able to legally work within the industry! There’s no two ways around this one. Search for an electrical apprenticeship on job sites, and contact local GTOs, AASNs and electrical businesses to see what they have available. Hit the pavement and get your face out there; persistence is key in this industry.
As with most apprenticeships, the Electrotechnology apprenticeship is a four-year journey, so be sure of your capability to commit to such a long term learning process!
Ready to give it a go? Find an apprenticeship on the MIGAS jobs board.