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Plant Electrician


Description

Plant electricians install, maintain, test, troubleshoot and repair industrial electrical equipment and associated electrical and electronic controls in plant settings.

Homes are not the only place we use electricity. Industry is one of the biggest power consuming sectors of modern life, and is used in locations are diverse as power generating plants and meat packing plants, mills, cereal processing plants, and clothing manufacturers. All areas of industry require the assistance of well-trained, experienced plant electricians.

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

Plants and factories could not function without the careful, dedicated electricians who supply the power that gets things done. The electricians look after everything from keeping the light switches working to ensuring the key machines in the production rooms do not overload a circuit.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
These individuals must 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. Plant technicians should be comfortable with heights and small, confined spaces. They must 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
  • Plant electricians work with electrical assistants, and on their own to look after the electrical needs of industries. This can involve work in loud, noisy rooms, as well as exposure to dangerous situations, especially when working in a plant that uses gases, heat sources, and machinery or creates nuclear power. Some work is quick and easy, but some whole days could be spent on difficult or complicated task. They work regular hours, unless there is an emergency situation that requires them to work longer hours. If the plant they work with is in operation 24 hours a day, they may work overnight or weekend shifts.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Plant electricians work with electrical contractors or with the maintenance departments in many different factories and manufacturing plants. They normally work inside factory and plant buildings.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Plant electricians may branch out into general electrician work and open up their own business, or find a permanent place on staff with another industry or construction company. They can stay with the plant they started with and advance to positions such as foreperson or superintendent. Plant electricians may also work as safety code and by-law inspectors.
 

  Educational Paths  
Plant 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 a plant 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 and 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 plant 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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Programs Offered:
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