How to Become an Electrician in OntarioOverview Training & Certification Skills, Knowledge & Attributes Career Paths Work Environment Compensation F.A.Q Explore Courses
How to Become an Electrician in Ontario
By: Jennifer Brown
Last updated: January 9, 2023
Without skilled electricians we wouldn’t be able to enjoy the many necessities of daily life. From the simple lighting and heating in our homes to connecting to the internet and cooking our meals, electricians specialize in the electrical wiring of homes, commercial buildings, transmission lines, and industrial machines.
Being an electrician means having a career that is in demand, respected and with growth potential, especially right now as many tradespeople in this field are approaching retirement age. The job can involve assembling, repairing, inspecting and testing electrical systems in settings that can range from residential to commercial buildings and public infrastructure.
Electricians are employed by electrical contractors and by the maintenance departments of buildings and other establishments. Many electricians also opt to establish their own businesses and are self-employed as successful entrepreneurs whose services are in demand.
For electricians (except those working in the industrial and power system areas), over the period 2019-2028, new job openings (arising from expansion demand and replacement demand) were expected to total 23,400, according to federal government research, while 20,300 new job seekers (arising from those leaving school, immigration and mobility) are expected to be available to fill them.
The need to replace retiring workers is elevated in the skilled trades across Canada. In 2016, nearly one in three journeypersons were aged 55 years or older. Between July 2021 and September 2021, there were 338,835 job vacancies in Ontario. About 8 per cent (25,495) of all vacancies in Ontario were in the construction sector.
In this Career Guide, we will outline some of the training and career options for electricians, and everything else you’ll need to know to find the right career focus to match your personal and professional interests in this dynamic and growing industry in Ontario.
Training & Certification
Becoming a certified electrician typically requires completing a college program at an accredited college or trade school in addition to several years of on-the-job training.
Under the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act the minimum education required is a completed grade 10. However, in the unionized sector of the electrical industry most programs require grade 12 with math, English and physics.
Like many other technicians, electricians must generally also have a minimum of a high school diploma, GED, or its equivalents. You must also typically complete a four-to- five -year apprenticeship program involving hands-on experience and pass a final exam to obtain trade certification. To work on many projects, electricians must also be certified by a regulatory body.
This unique program introduces you to a variety of skills in the construction field with each trade-specific component running seven weeks in duration. You study and practice in carpentry, masonry, plumbing, and electrical trades. You receive safety training (general and … Continue reading →
This Electrical Techniques program focuses on building a working knowledge of electricity and electronics in relation to residential and commercial electrician applications. Students will develop skills and competencies in electrical theory, network cabling, electrical system installation and electrical workplace safety. … Continue reading →
This program focuses on the field of Mechatronics from an industrial maintenance perspective. Conestoga will provide you with a combination of training in both electrical and mechanical maintenance including applications in automated manufacturing systems, industrial robotics, and system integration. The … Continue reading →
Skilled workers trained in residential and commercial wiring are in demand. Get the training you need in Canadore’s versatile 2,200 sq. ft. electrical lab where you will learn essential skills such as service installations, pipe bending and armoured cable practices … Continue reading →
This program is a two-year, four level program that will ready graduates for jobs in growth areas of electrical engineering technology such as electrical contracting, factory automation, power line maintenance and process control. Students will study electrical fundamentals, automation, power … Continue reading →
Working both in the classroom and in the shop, you’ll get practical, hands-on experience in electrical fundamentals. In just eight months you can master the basic skills you need to become an electrical apprentice. It’s the first step towards a … Continue reading →
Trade certification for electricians in the construction industry is compulsory in Ontario. Trade certification for electrical control (machine) builders is available, but voluntary in Ontario. Red Seal endorsement is also available to qualified construction electricians upon successful completion of the interprovincial Red Seal examination.
Being an electrician is a regulated trade in most provinces in Canada (see below for more details). That means you must complete an apprenticeship and earn a Certificate of Qualification to become a licensed electrician.
Under the newly formed Skilled Trades Ontario (January 1, 2022), an electrical apprenticeship is 9,000 hours (approximately five years). However, some union programs will require that a pre-apprenticeship program be completed before acceptance into the apprenticeship.
In Ontario, for example, the process includes the following steps:
- Complete 8,160 hours of on-the-job training as an electrician apprentice
- Complete 840 in-class hours of electrician training
- Pass the electrician certification exam
- Become a certified, registered journeyperson in the trade
Skills, Knowledge & Attributes
The duties of electricians are diverse and depend on the employer’s requirements and specialties. Some electricians are tasked to work on industrial electrical installations wiring transformers and installing high-voltage transmission lines. Meanwhile, others may work repairing and installing wind turbines or inspecting electrical systems in cars. Whatever your role, seniority or industry, some common responsibilities of electricians include:
- Devising plans for electrical installations
- Laying conduit in walls, temporary partitions, and other concealed areas
- Inspecting and maintaining existing electrical systems
- Ensuring that electrical system in buildings comply with local electrical codes and safety standards
- Provide estimates for installation, repair, upgrade, and maintenance of electrical systems
- Training and supervising new hires on the intricacies of electrical installation standards
- Interpreting and reading blueprints and electrical drawings
- Troubleshoot and repair faulty electrical lines and maintain existing electrical installations.
- Work can also include connecting electrical power to audio and visual communication equipment, signalling devices and heating and cooling systems.
If you have a high school education and the ability to work with your hands, a career as an electrician could be the right choice for you. Apprentices get paid while learning a highly skilled trade. It’s a field that can open doors to many opportunities.
Electricians should be good listeners, able to troubleshoot, solve problems, and make decisions. Key skillsets include critical thinking, time management and organizational skills. They should also have good communication skills, and a creative mind to help with problem solving. Proficiency in using electrical tools and equipment is critical. Knowledge of math and the ability to do basic calculations is required.
After you have completed electrician training, there are a wide range of career paths available — it all depends on your individual strengths, preferences, and career goals. People working as an electrician also have different job prospects depending on where they live.
When considering a career as an electrician think about what kind of environment you want to work in. Are you interested in working outdoors or do you prefer to work inside most of the time? Are you interested in a particular sector of the electronics industry, working with computers, renewable energy, or telecommunications?
Certain paths require additional training. Others are directly related to the skills taught in a typical construction and maintenance electrician program. There are many career opportunities available to an individual in the electrical industry through continuing education and training programs. Some of these career opportunities include:
- Project Manager
- Electrical Contractor
- Electrical Engineer
- Electrical Technician/Technologist
- Safety Inspector
Here are some areas of specialization for electricians:
Residential electricians are hired by builders and homeowners to wire residences during the construction phase, conduct repairs and upgrades in existing homes, and perform regular electrical maintenance to ensure homeowner safety. They may also be hired to install light fixtures, diagnose and repair electrical failures, re-wire older systems and bring homes up to code. There are also many jobs to be had working for security system companies fixing or testing security systems.
Residential electricians often work with a company, but many also have their own business. When working directly with consumers, electricians need strong communication skills to explain the work required to be done and to establish trust with customers.
A commercial electrician makes sure the wiring and electrical components of a structure are working efficiently and safely. The structures commercial electricians work in are more complex than residential work.
Commercial electricians install and upgrade wiring, but may also work with higher voltage electrical systems, generators, special health and safety equipment, oversized appliances, and large heating and air conditioning units.
Commercial work entails different energy needs, load demands, materials, and equipment setup than residential electrical jobs. For example, most residential wiring is single phase and 120 volts, whereas commercial structures normally use a three-phase design—providing greater energy output for the increased power demands of commercial environments.
Electricians who work in industrial settings typically work in factories, plants, or other industrial settings. The work includes installing, maintaining, and repairing the electronic components of industrial equipment. This role typically includes responsibilities such as installing and repairing test switchgear, transformers, switchboard meters, regulators, and reactors. As well, you might work on electrical motors, generators, alternators, industrial storage batteries, hydraulic and pneumatic electrical control systems. The role may also require installing and maintaining electrical wiring, receptacles, switch boxes, conduits, feeders, fibre-optic and coaxial cable assemblies, lighting fixtures, and other electrical components.
This sector is restricted to the high voltage and the utility sectors. Those who work for power companies are typically known as line workers, performing maintenance and repairs on high-power transmission and distribution lines and systems. These are the workers who you see out during and after storms when electricity has been interrupted by fallen trees and high winds, which means this kind of work often occurs during irregular hours and can be dangerous, therefore the need to follow workplace safety protocols is even more critical.
Typical responsibilities for linemen include erecting towers and poles, maintaining and repairing power lines, stringing new wire, installing and maintaining insulators, transformers, and other equipment, installing underground distribution systems, assembling substations and installing and maintaining traffic signals, general maintenance.
A “Master Electrician” is a specially licensed electrician who has passed the 80-question Master Electrician exam, which covers the Ontario Electrical Code, worker safety and business administration. Once licensed, a Master Electrician is able to oversee “journeymen” and take on managerial functions on job sites, if not run their own business. You can find a detailed list of requirements here.
Automotive electricians install, maintain, test, rebuild and repair electrical wiring and electronic components in motor vehicles. They are employed by independent electrical repair shops, service shops of electrical equipment manufacturers and maintenance departments of manufacturing companies.
Completion of secondary school is usually required to become an electrician in the automotive sector. Often completion of a four-year apprenticeship program or a combination of more than four years of work experience in the trade and some college or industry courses in electrical mechanics is usually required for trade certification. Trade certification as an electric motor system technician is available, but voluntary in Ontario. It is regulated in Ontario by Skilled Trades Ontario. In Ontario automotive electricians can earn between $30 and $63/hour.
Wind turbine technicians
A wind turbine technician installs, inspects, maintains, operates, and repairs wind turbines. They are trained to diagnose and fix problems that could cause a turbine to shut down unexpectedly. The median annual wage of a windtech is $52,260. Salaries range from $36,000 to more than $76,000, based on experience and training.
A few of the job duties include inspecting the exterior of the towers; climbing the towers to inspect, troubleshoot, or repair equipment; collecting turbine data for testing and analysis; performing routine maintenance; testing electrical components, systems, and mechanical and hydraulic systems; and replacing worn out or malfunctioning components. Degree programs for wind turbine technicians usually take two years and are offered at technical schools and community colleges.
Avionics electricians install, maintain, inspect and test, and repair electronic systems, wiring, equipment and electrical components in a variety of aircraft. They work on the instrumentation in airplanes, communication devices, navigation systems and radar equipment. Some duties may include diagnosing electrical problems, making fixes when sources of electrical problems are found, replacing old or defective electrical components, parts or wiring, installing new wiring and parts, testing electronics and wiring for function and adherence to guidelines and safety, keeping maintenance and repair records and reading and interpreting technical documents and diagrams. Aircraft electricians can make about $85,000 a year according to Glassdoor.
Construction and maintenance
This is a standard career path that involves wiring new structures and doing repairs and upgrades on existing buildings including residential home properties.
As with most skilled trades, there is a heavy emphasis on learning and following critical health and safety protocols, especially when it comes to being in contact with high voltage and live systems, working at heights and working in other precarious situations.
Electricians can also find themselves working outdoors or in severe weather conditions on job sites.
In many provinces in Canada, the median pay for an electrician is $30 an hour and could be as high as $45 an hour depending on factors such as location, labour agreements and the number of employees available for projects, according to federal government data on the profession.
The average salary in Ontario for an electrician is $77,201 and can be as high as $139,772 a year according to Glassdoor.
|Role||Average Salary in Ontario|
|Wind turbine electrician||$52,650|
|Solar panel electrician||$67,101|
Construction electricians earned an average hourly wage of $34.32 in Ontario in 2021, industrial electricians $36.12 an hour, electrical powerline and cable workers $38.90 an hour, and power systems electricians $47.21 per hour.
Jennifer Brown is a journalist and communications professional with extensive experience creating engaging content internally and externally for various B2B and consumer audiences. As a journalist, she has written about and interviewed leaders in the health care, education, legal, enterprise technology and cannabis sectors.