What Does an Electrician Apprentice Do? (Duties and Salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

An electrician apprentice works under a professional electrician to provide work related to electrical systems in homes and organisations. Electricians often work under qualified electricians as an apprentice before they can pursue this career on their own. If you're interested in becoming an electrician apprentice, you may first want to understand better what this job entails. This article explores what an electrician apprentice does, common skills needed by these professionals and several frequently asked questions related to this profession.

What does an electrician apprentice do?

If you're interested in knowing the answer to the question 'What does an electrician apprentice do?', they work side-by-side with qualified electricians to provide electrical-related services to clients. They may work on a variety of projects with varying complexities. In most cases, apprentices assist the electrician throughout the job and may perform small tasks on their own. Here are a few of the duties of an electrician apprentice:

Sourcing materials for quality and cost

Most electricians use their own materials when working on a home or business. For example, they may need certain wires to fix a particular electrical component within the structure. Knowing how to source materials for quality and cost can help electricians find the right materials at a cost that fits their designated budget.

Related: What Is an Apprenticeship?

Analysing blueprints and other technical documents

Many electricians look at blueprints and other technical documents when working on a structure. This is often true when working in larger buildings, where the electrical components are not easily found. Learning how to interpret and use these documents is a key part of an electrician apprentice's job.

Configuring electricity-based safety systems

Many individuals use safety systems in their homes and offices, such as fire alarms and security alarms. Some of these systems are configured electrically and require the skills and knowledge of an electrician. Electrician apprentices learn about the different types of systems and how best to configure them for success.

Determining why an electrical system is malfunctioning

Electricians are also responsible for finding out why a particular electrical system is no longer working. This takes strong problem-solving and analysing skills. Apprentice electricians often work side-by-side with electricians, so they learn how to identify certain factors that can contribute to electrical system malfunctioning.

Related: What Does an Electrician Do?

Performing additional duties as needed

The following are other examples of what electrician apprentices do:

  • digging for underground installations

  • repairing electrical infrastructures

  • replacing components such as transformers and switches

  • installing wiring systems

  • placing conduits between electrical devices

  • using measuring instruments to cut and manipulate wire and conduit

  • looking at electrical units for any loose or broken insulation or connections and tightening them

  • moving materials, equipment and tools to worksites

What is an electrician apprentice?

An electrician apprentice is both a student and professional who spends years developing the skills necessary to work as an independent electrician. This profession requires apprenticeships, so people without experience can safely learn from expert teachers and qualified electricians. Electrical firms offer apprenticeships, which require the completion of classwork and extensive hands-on experience. Because of the complexities of the trade, it may take an apprentice up to five years to complete training and become a certified independent electrician.

Related: How to Become An Electrician

Skills needed by electrician apprentices

The following are several skills needed by electrician apprentices for success in their positions:

Troubleshooting

Troubleshooting is the ability to solve malfunctions by analysing causes and effects, to specify where a problem occurs. Electrician apprentices usually use troubleshooting to find and fix electric faults. This can involve analytical, critical thinking and testing skills.

Maths

Electrician apprentices typically require maths skills such as algebra, geometry and trigonometry. These forms of mathematics produce information regarding angles, distances and electrical measurements, all of which guide electrical work. Apprenticeship programs understand their apprentices require familiarising themselves with these concepts and usually include mathematical education in coursework throughout a training program.

Physical stamina

As a profession based on manual labour, electrician apprentices care for their physical health and make sure they can lift, carry, bend over and work on their feet for extended periods. Electrical systems might be in tight or hard-to-reach spaces, which may require crawling and crouching.

Communication

Electrician apprentices gain exposure to working sites with intricate electrical systems and may work with various tradespeople on different projects. These might be other electricians or contractors, plumbers or heating and cooling specialists. Electrician apprentices develop the communication skills to collaborate when required, maintain safe working conditions in hazardous environments and work with clients.

Problem-solving

One major skill for electrician apprentices is problem-solving. They're often responsible for finding and identifying issues with electrical systems and sometimes fix them. Strong problem-solving skills assist these professionals when determining the best approach to a particular issue.

Frequently asked questions related to electrician apprentices

Here are some frequently asked questions related to a job as an apprentice electrician :

What is the work environment like for apprentice electricians?

Electricians typically work outside of an office and travel from location to location to provide their services. For example, they may start their day at one home and then continue onto several other homes before they finish. They often work in heated environments and are on their feet for long periods.

How long do I have to spend as an electrician apprentice?

The following is a general guideline on full-time and part-time apprenticeships:

  • Part-time apprentices work daily and average around 15 hours per week throughout a four-week time period.

  • Full-time apprentices receive full-time employment and typically train for 38 or more hours each week.

In most cases, a part-time apprenticeship takes twice as long as a full-time apprenticeship.

Related: How to Write an Electrician Cover Letter (With Example)

What are similar jobs to that of an electrician apprentice?

Here are several related careers you could consider as alternatives to working as an electrician apprentice:

  • Security or fire alarm installers: Some professionals specialise in only installing emergency alert systems, and this may appeal to those seeking a less intensive training process.

  • Signal and track switch repairers: Transit systems with multiple vehicles and complex infrastructure need employees who maintain and repair signalling systems and track switches.

  • Computer repairers: If troubleshooting and working with electronics is your motivation in choosing a career, computer repair might suit you.

  • Plumbers: In the highly specialised plumbing trade, plumbers can also employ themselves as independent contractors and work in many of the same environments as electricians.

  • Electrical engineers: If the theory and mathematics behind an electrician's training interest you, electrical engineering may allow you to study the field intensively.

How do I gain a license to practice as an electrician apprentice?

There are several types of electrician licenses you can choose from depending on if you want to take part in supervised work or contract with other parties. A contractor license enables individuals to advertise and contract their work, while electricians with experience and qualifications can obtain an endorsed contractor license. You can also apply for a qualified supervisor certificate, which allows electricians to supervise other electricians such as electrician apprentices.

When you know what license for which you want to apply, you then start the application process. You can apply for licensure online through government agencies like Service NSW. Most licenses require individuals to have the following:

  • information on past or current licenses

  • original copies of certifications or qualifications

  • a passport-sized photo

  • information on experience and employment as an electrician or electrician apprentice

  • proof of identity, such as a valid driver's license

  • any information related to criminal offences or previous compliance issues

Can electricians choose a speciality?

Many electricians choose to focus on a specific type of customer or electrical system. Electricians might prefer to work in residences, in construction or in industrial settings or to travel as part of their jobs. Some considerations electricians make when deciding on a specialisation include:

  • Who to work for: Some electricians' priority is working for themselves. This works well for smaller-scale projects—such as home installations and repair—but larger projects require teams of electricians.

  • Where to work: Electricians, known as linemen, work on power lines and other outside infrastructure, which may affect work schedules and conditions. Other electricians can mostly avoid the effects of weather if their specialisation is the inside wiring within structures.

  • Personal interest: Electricians can specialise in industries as varied as filmmaking, automobile manufacturing and renewable energy. Your personal interests and hobbies may help you decide which specialisation is right for you.

  • Travel requirements: Some work sites, such as oil rigs or airfields, are far apart and require substantial travel. An electrician servicing a residential area likely does far less commuting.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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