Electrician

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Electrician
US Navy 040902-N-7683J-003 Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Tayo Gbadebo from Lagos, Nigeria, rewires the motor from an Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF) Sprinkler System's pump.jpg
A US Navy electrician's mate rewiring the stator of an induction motor.
Occupation
Occupation type
Vocational
Activity sectors
Maintenance, Electrical Grid
Description
Education required
Apprenticeship
Fields of
employment
Construction
Related jobs
Lineperson

An electrician is a tradesperson specializing in electrical wiring of buildings, transmission lines, stationary machines, and related equipment. Electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical infrastructure. [1] Electricians may also specialize in wiring ships, airplanes, and other mobile platforms, as well as data and cable lines.

Contents

Terminology

Electricians were originally people who demonstrated or studied the principles of electricity, often electrostatic generators of one form or another. [2]

In the United States, electricians are divided into two primary categories: lineperson, who work on electric utility company distribution systems at higher voltages, and wiremen, who work with the lower voltages utilized inside buildings. Wiremen are generally trained in one of five primary specialties: commercial, residential, light industrial, industrial, and low-voltage wiring, more commonly known as Voice-Data-Video, or VDV. Other sub-specialties such as control wiring and fire-alarm may be performed by specialists trained in the devices being installed, or by inside wiremen.

Electricians are trained to one of three levels: Apprentice, Journeyperson, and Master Electrician. In the US and Canada, apprentices work and receive a reduced compensation while learning their trade. They generally take several hundred hours of classroom instruction and are contracted to follow apprenticeship standards for a period of between three and six years, during which time they are paid as a percentage of the Journeyperson's pay. Journeymen are electricians who have completed their Apprenticeship and who have been found by the local, State, or National licensing body to be competent in the electrical trade. Master Electricians have performed well in the trade for a period of time, often seven to ten years, and have passed an exam to demonstrate superior knowledge of the National Electrical Code, or NEC.

Service electricians are tasked to respond to requests for isolated repairs and upgrades. They have skills troubleshooting wiring problems, installing wiring in existing buildings, and making repairs. Construction electricians primarily focus on larger projects, such as installing all new electrical system for an entire building, or upgrading an entire floor of an office building as part of a remodeling process. Other specialty areas are marine electricians, research electricians and hospital electricians. "Electrician" is also used as the name of a role in stagecraft, where electricians are tasked primarily with hanging, focusing, and operating stage lighting. In this context, the Master Electrician is the show's chief electrician. Although theater electricians routinely perform electrical work on stage lighting instruments and equipment, they are not part of the electrical trade and have a different set of skills and qualifications from the electricians that work on building wiring.

In the film industry and on a television crew the head electrician is referred to as a Gaffer.

Electrical contractors are businesses that employ electricians to design, install, and maintain electrical systems. Contractors are responsible for generating bids for new jobs, hiring tradespeople for the job, providing material to electricians in a timely manner, and communicating with architects, electrical and building engineers, and the customer to plan and complete the finished product.

Training and regulation of trade

Electrician installing new meter socket on the side of a house. Electrician Mike Hughes Installing Meter Base.jpg
Electrician installing new meter socket on the side of a house.
Two electricians install high-current cabinet in Ystad 2021. Elektriker - Ystad-2021.jpg
Two electricians install high-current cabinet in Ystad 2021.

Many jurisdictions have regulatory restrictions concerning electrical work for safety reasons due to the many hazards of working with electricity. Such requirements may be testing, registration or licensing. Licensing requirements vary between jurisdictions.

Australia

An electrician's license entitles the holder to carry out all types of electrical installation work in Australia without supervision. However, to contract, or offer to contract, to carry out electrical installation work, a licensed electrician must also be registered as an electrical contractor. Under Australian law, electrical work that involves fixed wiring is strictly regulated and must almost always be performed by a licensed electrician or electrical contractor. [3] A local electrician can handle a range of work including air conditioning, light fittings and installation, safety switches, smoke alarm installation, inspection and certification and testing and tagging of electrical appliances.

To provide data, structured cabling systems, home automation & theatre, LAN, WAN and VPN data solutions or phone points, an installer must be licensed as a Telecommunications Cable Provider under a scheme controlled by Australian Communications and Media Authority [4]

Electrical licensing in Australia is regulated by the individual states. In Western Australia, the Department of Commerce tracks licensee's and allows the public to search for individually named/licensed Electricians. [5]

Currently in Victoria the apprenticeship lasts for four years, during three of those years the apprentice attends trade school in either a block release of one week each month or one day each week. At the end of the apprenticeship the apprentice is required to pass three examinations, one of which is theory based with the other two practically based. Upon successful completion of these exams, providing all other components of the apprenticeship are satisfactory, the apprentice is granted an A Class licence on application to Energy Safe Victoria (ESV).

An A Class electrician may perform work unsupervised but is unable to work for profit or gain without having the further qualifications necessary to become a Registered Electrical Contractor (REC) or being in the employment of a person holding REC status. However, some exemptions do exist. [6]

In most cases a certificate of electrical safety must be submitted to the relevant body after any electrical works are performed.

Safety equipment used and worn by electricians in Australia (including insulated rubber gloves and mats) needs to be tested regularly to ensure it is still protecting the worker. Because of the high risk involved in this trade, this testing needs to be performed regularly and regulations vary according to state. Industry best practice is the Queensland Electrical Safety Act 2002, and requires six-monthly testing.

Canada

A utility electrician/lineperson does maintenance on a utility pole. Utility worker 4460.jpg
A utility electrician/lineperson does maintenance on a utility pole.

Training of electricians follows an apprenticeship model, taking four or five years to progress to fully qualified journeyperson level. [7] Typical apprenticeship programs consists of 80-90% hands-on work under the supervision of journeymen and 10-20% classroom training. [8] Training and licensing of electricians is regulated by each province, however professional licenses are valid throughout Canada under Agreement on Internal Trade. An endorsement under the Red Seal Program provides additional competency assurance to industry standards. [9] In order for individuals to become a licensed electricians, they need to have 9000 hours of practical, on the job training. They also need to attend school for 4 terms and pass a provincial exam. This training enables them to become journeyperson electricians. Furthermore, in British Columbia, an individual can go a step beyond that and become a “FSR”, or field safety representative. This credential gives the ability to become a licensed electrical contractor and to pull permits. Notwithstanding this, some Canadian provinces only grant "permit pulling privileges" to current Master Electricians, that is, a journeyperson who has been engaged in the industry for three years and has passed the Master's examination (i.e. Alberta). The various levels of field safety representatives are A,B and C. The only difference between each class is that they are able to do increasingly higher voltage and current work.

United Kingdom

The two qualification awarding organisations are City and Guilds and EAL. Electrical competence is required at Level 3 to practice as a 'qualified electrician' in the UK. Once qualified and demonstrating the required level of competence an Electrician can apply to register for a Joint Industry Board Electrotechnical Certification Scheme card in order to work on building sites or other controlled areas.

Although partly covered during Level 3 training, more in depth knowledge and qualifications can be obtained covering subjects such as Design and Verification or Testing and Inspection among others. These additional qualifications can be listed on the reverse of the JIB card. Beyond this level is additional training and qualifications such as EV charger installations or training and working in specialist areas such as street furniture or within industry.

The Electricity at Work Regulations are a statutory document that covers the use and proper maintenance of electrical equipment and installations within businesses and other organisations such as charities. Parts of the Building Regulations cover the legal requirements of the installation of electrical technical equipment with Part P outlining most of the regulations covering dwellings

Information regarding design, selection, installation and testing of electrical structures is provided in the non-statutory publication 'Requirements for Electrical Installations, IET Wiring Regulations, Eighteenth Edition, BS 7671:2018' otherwise known as the Wiring Regulations or 'Regs'. Usual amendments are published on an ad hoc bases when minor changes occur. The first major update of the 18th Edition were published during February 2020 mainly covering the section covering Electric vehicles charger installations although an addendum was published during December 2019 correcting some minor mistakes and adding some small changes. The IET also publish a series of 'Guidance Notes' in book form that provide further in-depth knowledge.

With the exception of the work covered by Part P of the Building Regulations, such as installing consumer units, new circuits or work in bathrooms, there are no laws that prevent anyone from carrying out some basic electrical work in the UK.

In British English, an electrician is colloquially known as a "spark". [10]

United States

Although many electricians work for private contractors, many electricians get their start in the military. USMC-12007.jpg
Although many electricians work for private contractors, many electricians get their start in the military.

The United States does not offer nationwide licensing and electrical licenses are issued by individual states. There are variations in licensing requirements, however, all states recognize three basic skill categories: level electricians. Journeyperson electricians can work unsupervised provided that they work according to a master's direction. Generally, states do not offer journeyperson permits, and journeyperson electricians and other apprentices can only work under permits issued to a master electrician. Apprentices may not work without direct supervision. [11]

Before electricians can work unsupervised, they are usually required to serve an apprenticeship lasting three to five years under the general supervision of a master electrician and usually the direct supervision of a journeyperson electrician. [11] Schooling in electrical theory and electrical building codes is required to complete the apprenticeship program. Many apprenticeship programs provide a salary to the apprentice during training. A journeyperson electrician is a classification of licensing granted to those who have met the experience requirements for on the job training (usually 4,000 to 6,000 hours) and classroom hours (about 144 hours). Requirements include completion of two to six years of apprenticeship training and passing a licensing exam. [12]

Reciprocity

An electrician's license is valid for work in the state where the license was issued. In addition, many states recognize licenses from other states, sometimes called interstate reciprocity participation, although there can be conditions imposed. For example, California reciprocates with Arizona, Nevada, and Utah on the condition that licenses are in good standing and have been held at the other state for five years. [13] Nevada reciprocates with Arizona, California, and Utah. [14] Maine reciprocates with New Hampshire and Vermont at the master level, and the state reciprocates with New Hampshire, North Dakota, Idaho, Oregon, Vermont, and Wyoming at the journeyperson level. [15] Colorado maintains a journeyperson alliance with Alaska, Arkansas, the Dakotas, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah, and Wyoming. [16]

Tools

Electricians use a range of hand and power tools and instruments.

Two of the tools commonly used by electricians. The fish tape is used to pull conductors through conduits, or sometimes to pull conductors through hollow walls. The conduit bender is used to make accurate bends and offsets in electrical conduit. 11-FishTapes ConduitTools.jpg
Two of the tools commonly used by electricians. The fish tape is used to pull conductors through conduits, or sometimes to pull conductors through hollow walls. The conduit bender is used to make accurate bends and offsets in electrical conduit.

Some of the more common tools are:

Safety

In addition to the workplace hazards generally faced by industrial workers, electricians are also particularly exposed to injury by electricity. An electrician may experience electric shock due to direct contact with energized circuit conductors or due to stray voltage caused by faults in a system. An electric arc exposes eyes and skin to hazardous amounts of heat and light. Faulty switchgear may cause an arc flash incident with a resultant blast. Electricians are trained to work safely and take many measures to minimize the danger of injury. Lockout and tagout procedures are used to make sure that circuits are proven to be de-energized before work is done. Limits of approach to energized equipment protect against arc flash exposure; specially designed flash-resistant clothing provides additional protection; grounding (earthing) clamps and chains are used on line conductors to provide a visible assurance that a conductor is de-energized. Personal protective equipment provides electrical insulation as well as protection from mechanical impact; gloves have insulating rubber liners, and work boots and hard hats are specially rated to provide protection from shock. If a system cannot be de-energized, insulated tools are used; even high-voltage transmission lines can be repaired while energized, when necessary. [17]

Electrical workers, which includes electricians, accounted for 34% of total electrocutions of construction trades workers in the United States between 1992–2003. [18]

Working conditions

Working conditions for electricians vary by specialization. Generally an electrician's work is physically demanding such as climbing ladders and lifting tools and supplies. Occasionally an electrician must work in a cramped space or on scaffolding, and may frequently be bending, squatting or kneeling, to make connections in awkward locations. Construction electricians may spend much of their days in outdoor or semi-outdoor loud and dirty work sites. Industrial electricians may be exposed to the heat, dust, and noise of an industrial plant. Power systems electricians may be called to work in all kinds of adverse weather to make emergency repairs.

Trade organizations

Some electricians are union members and work under their union's policies.

Australia

Electricians can choose to be represented by the Electrical Trade Union (ETU). Electrical Contractors can be represented by the National Electrical & Communications Association or Master Electricians Australia.

North America

Some electricians are union members. Some examples of electricians' unions include the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Canadian Union of Public Employees, and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers provides its own apprenticeships through its National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee and the National Electrical Contractors Association. Many merit shop training and apprenticeship programs also exist, including those offered by such as trade associations as Associated Builders and Contractors and Independent Electrical Contractors. These organizations provide comprehensive training, in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor regulations.

United Kingdom/Ireland

In the United Kingdom, electricians are represented by several unions including Unite the Union

In the Republic of Ireland there are two self-regulation/self certification bodies RECI Register of Electrical Contractors of Ireland and ECSSA.

Auto electrician

An auto electrician is a tradesperson specializing in electrical wiring of motor vehicles. Auto electricians may be employed in the installation of new electrical components or the maintenance and repair of existing electrical components. Auto electricians specialize in cars and commercial vehicles. The auto electrical trade is generally more difficult than the electrical trade due to the confined spaces, engineering complexity of modern automotive electrical systems, and working conditions (often roadside breakdowns or on construction sites, mines, quarries to repair machinery etc.) Also the presence of high-current DC electricity makes injury from burns and arc-flash injury possible.

See also

Related Research Articles

Carpentry Skilled trade

Carpentry is a skilled trade and a craft in which the primary work performed is the cutting, shaping and installation of building materials during the construction of buildings, ships, timber bridges, concrete formwork, etc. Carpenters traditionally worked with natural wood and did rougher work such as framing, but today many other materials are also used and sometimes the finer trades of cabinetmaking and furniture building are considered carpentry. In the United States, 98.5% of carpenters are male, and it was the fourth most male-dominated occupation in the country in 1999. In 2006 in the United States, there were about 1.5 million carpentry positions. Carpenters are usually the first tradesmen on a job and the last to leave. Carpenters normally framed post-and-beam buildings until the end of the 19th century; now this old-fashioned carpentry is called timber framing. Carpenters learn this trade by being employed through an apprenticeship training—normally 4 years—and qualify by successfully completing that country's competence test in places such as the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Switzerland, Australia and South Africa. It is also common that the skill can be learned by gaining work experience other than a formal training program, which may be the case in many places.

A journeyman is a worker, skilled in a given building trade or craft, who has successfully completed an official apprenticeship qualification. Journeymen are considered competent and authorized to work in that field as a fully qualified employee. They earn their license by education, supervised experience and examination. Although journeymen have completed a trade certificate and are allowed to work as employees, they may not yet work as self-employed master craftsmen.

Electrical wiring in North America follows the regulations and standards applicable at the installation location. It is also designed to provide proper function, and is also influenced by history and traditions of the location installation.

National Electrical Code Electrical wiring standard

The National Electrical Code (NEC), or NFPA 70, is a regionally adoptable standard for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment in the United States. It is part of the National Fire Code series published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a private trade association. Despite the use of the term "national", it is not a federal law. It is typically adopted by states and municipalities in an effort to standardize their enforcement of safe electrical practices. In some cases, the NEC is amended, altered and may even be rejected in lieu of regional regulations as voted on by local governing bodies.

Electrical wiring in the United Kingdom is commonly understood to be an electrical installation for operation by end users within domestic, commercial, industrial, and other buildings, and also in special installations and locations, such as marinas or caravan parks. It does not normally cover the transmission or distribution of electricity to them.

High voltage Electrical potential which is large enough to cause damage or injury

High voltage electricity refers to electrical potential large enough to cause injury or damage. In certain industries, high voltage refers to voltage above a certain threshold. Equipment and conductors that carry high voltage warrant special safety requirements and procedures.

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers International workers union

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) is a labor union that represents approximately 775,000 workers and retirees in the electrical industry in the United States, Canada, Guam, Panama, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands; in particular electricians, or inside wiremen, in the construction industry and lineworkers and other employees of public utilities. The union also represents some workers in the computer, telecommunications, and broadcasting industries, and other fields related to electrical work.

Lineworker Technician

A lineworker constructs and maintains the electric transmission and distribution facilities that deliver electrical energy to industrial, commercial, and residential establishments. A lineworker installs, services, and emergency repairs electrical lines in the case of lightning, wind, ice storm, or ground disruptions. Whereas lineworkers generally work at outdoor installations, those who install and maintain electrical wiring inside buildings are electricians.

British Standard BS 7671 "Requirements for Electrical Installations. IET Wiring Regulations", informally called in the UK electrical community "The Regs", is the national standard in the United Kingdom for electrical installation and the safety of electrical wiring in domestic, commercial, industrial, and other buildings, also in special installations and locations, such as marinas or caravan parks and medical locations

IEC 60364Electrical Installations for Buildings is the International Electrotechnical Commission's international standard on electrical installations of buildings. This standard is an attempt to harmonize national wiring standards in an IEC standard and is published in the European Union by CENELEC as "HD 60364". The latest versions of many European wiring regulations follow the section structure of IEC 60364 very closely, but contain additional language to cater for historic national practice and to simplify field use and determination of compliance by electricians and inspectors. National codes and site guides are meant to attain the common objectives of IEC 60364, and provide rules in a form that allows for guidance of persons installing and inspecting electrical systems.

In electrical engineering, low voltage is a relative term, the definition varying by context. Different definitions are used in electric power transmission and distribution, and electrical safety codes define "low voltage" circuits that are exempt from the protection required at higher voltages. These definitions vary by country and specific codes or regulations.

Portable appliance testing Procedure in which electrical appliances are routinely checked for safety

In electrical safety testing, portable appliance testing is a process in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Australia by which electrical appliances are routinely checked for safety. The formal term for the process is "in-service inspection & testing of electrical equipment". Testing involves a visual inspection of the equipment and any flexible cables for good condition, and also where required, verification of earthing (grounding) continuity, and a test of the soundness of insulation between the current carrying parts, and any exposed metal that may be touched. The formal limits for pass/fail of these electrical tests vary somewhat depending on the category of equipment being tested.

Hot stick Electricians tool

In the electric power distribution industry, a hot stick is an insulated pole, usually made of fiberglass, used by electric utility workers when engaged on live-line working on energized high-voltage electric power lines, to protect them from electric shock. Depending on the tool attached to the end of the hot stick, it is possible to test for voltage, tighten nuts and bolts, apply tie wires, open and close switches, replace fuses, lay insulating sleeves on wires, and perform various other tasks while not exposing the crew to a large risk of electric shock.

Electrical outlet tester Device to verify the function of an electrical outlet

An electrical outlet tester, receptacle tester, or socket tester is a small device containing a 3-prong power plug and three indicator lights, used for quickly detecting some types of incorrectly-wired electrical wall outlets. The tester is easily carried in a pocket, can be used with little training, and can identify some common wiring problems, but it fails to detect certain other dangerous types of wiring defects.

An electrical contractor is a business person or firm that performs specialized construction work related to the design, installation, and maintenance of electrical systems. An electrical contractor is different from an electrician; an electrician is an individual tradesman and an electrical contractor is a business person or company that employs electricians. Both usually hold licenses and insurances to properly and safely operate a business, protecting the employees and home owners/business owners from insurance liabilities. These requirements vary from state to state. Electricians may work for an electrical contractor, or directly for individuals or companies.

National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting

NICEIC is one of several organisations which regulates the training and work of electrical enterprises in the UK. NICEIC is one of several providers given Government approval to offer Competent Person Schemes to oversee electrical work within the electrical industry.

In building wiring installed with separate neutral and protective ground bonding conductors, a bootleg ground is a connection between the neutral side of a receptacle or light fixture and the ground lug or enclosure of the wiring device.

SELECT (Electrical Contractors Association of Scotland)

SELECT, founded in 1900 as the Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland, is the Scottish construction trade association for specialist businesses in the electrical industry.

Apprenticeship programs in the United States are regulated by the Smith–Hughes Act (1917), The National Industrial Recovery Act (1933), and National Apprenticeship Act, also known as the "Fitzgerald Act."

References

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  2. Shock and Awe: The Story of Electricity- Jim Al-Khalili
  3. Tester, Ross (2008-06-05). "DIY Electrical Work: Are Aussies DUMBER than Kiwis?". Silicon Chip Online . Retrieved 2012-07-20.
  4. "Telecommunications Cabling Provider Rules 2014". Australian Government. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  5. Protection, corporateName: Department of Consumer and Employment; Division, corporateName: Consumer Protection; Hoskins, personalName: David. "Consumer Protection - Energy Safety". bizline.commerce.wa.gov.au. Archived from the original on 2011-04-06. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  6. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2010-02-15.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  7. "Trade Chart / Ellis Chart". March 4, 2016. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04.
  8. http://www.hrsdc.gc.ca/eng/jobs/trades/index.shtml Government of Canada
  9. <Red Seal Program "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2010-10-28.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. https://wikidiff.com/electrician/spark
  11. 1 2 Hering, Bob. "Differences Between a Journeyman & a Master Electrician". Houston Chronicle. Demand Media . Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  12. "What Is a Journeyman Electrician?" . Retrieved 2017-01-29.
  13. http://www.cslb.ca.gov/applicants/Reciprocity/ReciprocityRequirements.asp CSLB CA
  14. http://www.nvcontractorsboard.com/reciprocity.html Archived 2013-03-10 at the Wayback Machine State of NV
  15. http://www.maine.gov/pfr/professionallicensing/professions/electricians/pdf/elecreciprocity.pdf State of ME
  16. "Electrician Licensure by Reciprocity". dpo.colorado.gov. Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies. Retrieved 2021-08-21.
  17. John Cadick et al, Electrical Safety Handbook Third Edition, Mc Graw Hill 2005, ISBN   0-07-145772-0
  18. http://www.elcosh.org/en/document/557/d000539/why-are-so-many-construction-workers-being-electrocuted%253F.html Michael McCann, Why Are So Many Construction Workers Being Electrocuted?, retrieved 2010 July 27