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Industrial Electrician


Description

Most people take it for granted but every time they flip a switch, turn up the heat, or warm up a pizza in the microwave, they have an electrician to thank. So many things in homes, offices, restaurants and concert halls are run on electricity, from the frivolousness of a hair crimper to the importance of fire alarm systems--they are run on the power of electricity.

However, homes are not the only place we use electricity. Industry is one of the biggest power consuming sectors of modern life. Meatpacking plants, mills, mines, shipyards, cereal processing plants, clothing manufacturers. All areas of industry require the assistance of well-trained, experienced industry electricians.

Industrial electricians install, maintain, test, troubleshoot and repair industrial electrical equipment specific to the industry they work with. Those in the marine industry wire boats, while those working in factories are responsible for ensuring the equipment functions properly. Industry electricians become experts in their one area, as each job requires specific knowledge--electricity on a ship is much different from electricity in a mine.

When new equipment comes in, these electricians must ensure that it will work with the old wiring plan must be established. As well, they respond to breakdowns and blown fuses, all the while protecting themselves from dangerous gasses, heat, noise, and the possibility of electrical shock.

Industries could not function without the careful, dedicated electricians who supply the power that gets things done. Without electricians, we would not even have a books to read, let alone lights to read them by.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Interested in working as an industrial electrician? These individuals need to be good at math, and have good communication and reading skills. They require good mechanical abilities, as well as strength, stamina, and manual dexterity. Good eyesight, as well as normal color vision are important. Industrial electricians should be comfortable with heights as well as small confined spaces. They should also have a logical, analytical mind and be methodical as well as precise.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Troubleshoot electrical problems
  • May draw wiring diagrams
  • Study and interpret architectural drawings, electrical code specifications, and wiring diagrams to determine wiring layouts of industrial electrical equipment installations
  • Estimate costs
  • Install and maintain electrical wiring and equipment (switch boxes, conduits, lighting fixtures, etc)
  • Supervise assistants
  • Repair or replace faulty electrical equipment
  • Test electrical work for safety
  • Keeps records of the problems found and fixed
  • Maintain switchgears, transformers, switchboard meters, regulators and reactors
  • Maintain electrical motors, generators, industrial storage batteries and hydraulic and pneumatic electrical control systems
  • Look into any other electrical mishaps on site
  • They work with electrical assistants, and on their own to look after the electrical needs of industries. Industrial electricians may work outdoors but most of the work is done indoors. They may work underground, in loud, noisy factories, or on boats. They are often exposed to dangerous situations, especially when working in industries involving gases, heat sources, and machinery. They work regular hours, unless there is an emergency situation that requires them to work longer hours. If the industry they work with is in operation 24 hours a day, they may work overnight or weekend shifts.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Industrial electricians work with electrical contractors or with the maintenance departments of many different industries, including mining, marine, and manufacturing. They also work on telecommunications equipment and offshore drilling rigs. Industrial electricians work in buildings or sites specific to their industry.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Industrial electricians may branch out into general electrician work and open up their own business, or find a permanent place on staff with a construction company. With experience Industrial electricians may move to positions such as foreperson or superintendent. Industrial electricians may also choose to work as safety code or by-law inspectors.
 

  Educational Paths  
Industrial electricians receive their training either through informal, on-the-job training or through an apprenticeship program. Trade certification can be obtained either through an apprenticeship program or after several years of work experience. While trade certification is not mandatory in all areas to become an industrial electrician, it can be a requirement for many employers and can also help secure employment.

Apprenticeship programs involve a combination of on-the-job training with classroom instruction. A pre-apprenticeship course may also be available which takes about five to six months to complete at a community college and is designed to help you get connected with a good company to apprentice with. It is important to apprentice with a reputable company as that is your education. While some apprenticeship programs may not require a high school diploma, it is important to note that employers generally prefer to hire high school graduates.

Apprenticeships can vary, however a typical apprenticeship lasts four to five years. The apprenticeship is a paid position, however wages are about 50 percent of what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the industrial electrician a certificate of completion.
 

Sources:
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002, http://www.bls.gov/oes/2002/oes_nat.htm

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