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Electrical Mechanic


Description

When electrical appliances and foundations break down, most people are not skilled in the art of electrical mechanics. Electrical mechanics test, rebuild and repair electric wiring systems, motors, generators, transformers, heaters, controllers and related electrical and mechanical equipment used in commercial, industrial and institutional establishments.

Electrical mechanics may specialize in working with certain types of apparatus such as electric motors or transformers, or in performing certain functions such as winding coils. When the mechanics come onto a scene, keep in mind that they must tackle each problem head on, going on the words of the customer. They will check for different problems like loose parts, electrical shortages, frayed electrical cords, unusual vibrations or noises. In order to diagnose the problem, they will often dismantle electric motors, transformers, switchgear, electric welders, generators and other electrical and mechanical equipment to figure out what is wrong to service, modify or make a repair.

Electrical mechanics often remove and replace shafts, bearings, commutators and other components, referring to blueprints or service manuals as required. When they have made a proper diagnosis, they will estimate the time and cost of the project and with the customer's approval set out to work. They need to be very careful when disassembling wires and then putting them back together because many buildings rely on electricity, such as hospitals. They also wind and assemble various types of coils for electric motors or transformers and reinstall them. Eventually they align and adjust parts to close tolerances and reassemble items.

Electrical mechanics may also plan the layout of wiring systems, such as switchboards, power outlets, lights and switches, install insulated cables and connect switches and other fittings. This usually takes place during the construction stage, when homes and offices are in the development process. Any type of appliance or wiring of an entire building that requires electricity will require the services of the electrical mechanic.

With experience and possibly some business training, electrical mechanics may specialize as electrical contractors, who order materials, organize staff to meet customer needs and carry out other tasks associated with running a business. Those who work independently have a harder time finding regular work, however with experience, they can build up a client base. They may work solidly during construction season, but have little work in the wintertime.
 
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  Interests and Skills  
Successful electrical mechanics have a good mechanical aptitude, and excellent manual dexterity. They have the ability to pay careful attention to detail and the work is most rewarding for those who like precision, want security and enjoy variety in their work.
 

  Typical Tasks  
  • Test and observe electrical and mechanical conditions of electric motors, transformers, switchgears or other electrical equipment using testing and measuring instruments
  • Troubleshoot and repair electric motors, transformers, switchgears, generators and other electrical equipment
  • Read mechanical drawings, electrical wiring diagrams or specifications to determine job requirements
  • Replace or recondition shafts, bearings, commutators and other components
  • Wind, assemble and install various types of coils for electric motors or transformer
  • Perform static or dynamic balancing of armatures or rotors by welding, brazing or soldering electrical connections and by aligning and adjusting parts
  • Test and repair or replace faulty wiring or components in electrical switchgears
  • Test repaired motors, transformers, switchgears or other electrical apparatus to ensure proper performance
  • Perform some machining to recondition or modify shafts, commutators or other parts
  • Perform on-site servicing and repair
  • Most electrical mechanics work a standard 40-hour week with longer hours required when equipment breaks down or emergencies call. They primarily work indoors in large shops and production plants. Those who work for contractors may remove and replace burned out motors on the customer's premises, and may therefore have to travel regularly to perform maintenance on customer equipment.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Electrical mechanics are employed by independent electrical repair shops, service shops of electrical equipment manufacturers and maintenance departments of manufacturing companies.

  Long Term Career Potential  
What does the future hold for electrical mechanics? Electrical mechanics may progress to positions that involve working with larger and more complicated electric motors, transformers, switchgear or other apparatus, or that involve testing and diagnosing problems to a greater and more responsible extent. They may also advance to supervisory positions, or set up their own contracting firms. Related occupations include appliance service technician, electrician and engine mechanics.
 

  Educational Paths  
Electrical mechanics 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 electrical mechanic, 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% less than what an employer pays the journeyperson, with yearly increases. After successfully completing the apprenticeship requirements, their industry training and apprenticeship office awards the electrical mechanic 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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