Construction repairman on stepladderIndividuals working as licensed general electricians within Australia are in high demand in today’s economy.

Electrical tradesmen are knowledgeable in the principles of electricity, and are vital resources in the industrial, commercial, or residential space.

As a versatile career, general electricians are highly skilled and extensively trained to work in a number of capacities including:

  • Installation, repair and maintenance of electrical equipment
  • Using wires and cables to connect machinery to electrical power sources
  • Testing electrical connections to ensure proper use
  • Planning the layout of complex wiring systems
  • Installing electrical control systems or cabling
  • Assembling electronic components or appliances
  • Connecting and testing circuit breakers

Although there are a number of services electricians can perform, generally, professionals in this trade have a specific set of attributes, including:

  • Hand-eye coordination
  • The ability to diagnose and solve complex problems
  • A love of math and technical procedures
  • A mechanical aptitude
  • The ability to focus on detailed and precise work
  • In good physical health

In order to determine whether this trade is appropriate, it is pertinent to understand the training required, career and salary potential.


Electrician Training

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In Australia, the path to become a general electrician takes a great deal of commitment and drive.

For the majority of training programs, individuals must complete a set of steps, starting with training and certification.

Prospective electricians first select a reputable, accredited school within Australia that teaches the skills necessary to become an electrician. It should be noted that courses are available via the Internet, but one should ensure the institution is well-known.

On average, the in-school aspect of general electrician training takes three years. Students cover a broad range of topics during these years, including:

  • Electrical fitting
  • Instrumentation
  • Loop testing
  • Prevention of electrical issues
  • Installation of electrical equipment
  • Licensing requirements

After the three-year trade school attendance, a prospective general electrician is required to complete an apprenticeship program.

The purpose of this additional year is to ensure licensing regulators that the knowledge gained in school is sufficient. Simply put, individuals must be able to apply their education in practical ways.

For most apprenticeship programs, students are allowed an opportunity to show they are competent in the following:powering-australia64

  • Developing and connecting electrical control circuits
  • Applying environment and sustainable procedures in electrical work
  • Applying OHS regulations, codes and practices on the job
  • Participating in electrical work and activities with supervision
  • Utilizing drawing, diagrams, standards, codes and specifications to complete assigned work
  • Solving complex electrical issues accurately and in a timely manner

Once the apprenticeship is complete, an individual must then pass a series of examinations to confirm knowledge retention.

The first test is based on theory, while the remaining two focus on the practical implication of electrical work.

After successful completion of these exams, the apprentice is granted an entry level license that allows them to begin work on a supervised basis.

Electrician Careers

After an individual has successfully completed each of the training components, it is time to begin the search for work.

However, a general electrician license prepares individuals to work in a broad range of careers.

This can make it difficult to choose what type of job one should apply for and in what category.

Here we provide additional information about the types of careers available to those who have put in the hours to become an electrician.

Most people think of a general electrician as an individual who works in the residential market, responding to homeowners and builders as needed.

This may be one of the most common types of electrician work, but those licensed appropriately are also able to work in the following fields:powering-australia45

  • Commercial electrical work
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Generation facilities
  • Rail workers
  • Wholesale and retail
  • Sustainable and renewable energy markets
  • Maritime workers
  • Industrial settings
  • Mining work

In addition to the bevy of industries a license general electrician can work within, there are also multiple career positions available.

Each career path has advantages as well as disadvantages, and varied salaries, hours required, and work conditions.

Some career path options may include:

  • Construction manager
  • General operations manager
  • Project manager (in construction, engineering or operations)
  • Operations manager (in construction or engineering)
  • Senior project manager in operations

No matter the sector in which an electrician works, however, the tools he or she uses on a daily basis are generally the same. These can include:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Pliers
  • Drills
  • Wire strippers
  • Ohmmeters
  • Voltmeters

They are also typically required to wear and consistently use personal protective equipment, known as PPE, which consists of:

  • Bright reflective safety clothing
  • Hard hats
  • Earmuffs
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Enclosed steel-capped boots

After a general electrician has determined what sector he or she may like to work in, considering the salary for options in that sector is an important next step.

Electrician Salary

powering-australia60General electricians in Australia are paid well based on both the extensive education they must complete and the conditions under which they work.

Electricians may work in workshops or on location such as a construction site.

They may also provide services within the residential sector in private dwellings, industrial plants, power stations, or business offices.

Any location that requires electrical work and maintenance can provide an ‘office’ for a general electrician.

Whether an electrician works within a small private home or a large industrial plant, the conditions under which they work can be highly uncomfortable.

Work areas are generally cramped and require a great deal of flexibility in reach.

Additionally, some electricians can be called to work on projects at great heights, increasing the level of danger.

Although the hours worked normally fall into a typical work week, they may be required to work weekends or at odd hours of the night. Because of these unique conditions, general electricians are paid fairly well.

Wages for general electricians vary greatly based on skill level and experience in the field.

However, the national average within Australia is $1952 each week, accumulating to a comfortable $89,000 per annum.

As with most careers, electricians are paid more depending on their time in service within the career, following the information below:

  • Entry level electricians (working zero to five years) earn $54,000 on average
  • Mid- career level electricians (working five to ten years) earn $62,000 on average
  • Experienced electricians (working ten to twenty years) earn $70,000 on average
  • Late-career electricians (working over twenty years) earn $72,000 on average

Location plays a role in a general electrician’s pay as well, which is noted in the following regional examples:

  • Licensed Electrician working in NSW can earn between $35 and $45 per hour
  • A General Electrician working in Sydney earns, on average, $68,000 per annum
  • An Industrial Electrician working in Newcastle earns, on average, $75,000 to $85,000
  • A Fire Electrician in Adelaide can earn between $45 and $55 per hour
  • A Grade Electrician working in Perth can earn between $42 and $52 per hour

General electricians are also paid differently based on their qualification and certification levels, detailed next.

Electrician Certification / Qualification

powering-australia59There are a variety of electrician licenses issued throughout Australia based on skill level and experience within the industry.

The reason for creating and maintaining a license structure within the country revolves around the dangerous nature of the work.

In order to mitigate risks associated with electrical installation, wiring and maintenance, electricians must be licensed if they plan to work independently – that is without supervision.

A license indicates that the worker is competent and is capable of keeping both himself and public safe.

Generally, licenses can be issued for the following types of work within the electrical field:

  • Contracting work – issued to electricians working as contractors
  • Installing work – issued to electricians working in any capacity who have completed the necessary training requirements
  • Training – issued to both trainees and apprentices, allowing work under supervision only
  • Restricted electrical work – issued to individuals who only wish to perform a restricted level of services, effectively banning them from completing installation or alteration work to fixed wiring. Also, repair and replacement of structure such as power points and lighting fittings is not allowed under this license

Each state has its own regulations in licensing electrical workers, as detailed in the following section.

Australian Electricians Trade by State

Melbourne

Victoria offers a number of licensing programs to those working within the electrical industry, including:

  • Electrical Inspectors License
  • Registered Electrical Contractor
  • Electrician’s License (includes A Class)
  • Electrician Worker’s License (ES license, for supervised electrical workers)
  • Supervised Worker’s License (L License)
  • Restricted Electrical Workers License (D License)
  • Occupier’s License (renewal only)powering-australia50

Each license is in force for a maximum of five years, and varies in terms of fees for application and renewal.

General electricians working in Melbourne can contact Energy Safe Victoria for additional information:

ESV

PO Box 262

Collins St West VIC 8007

Tel: 1800 815 721 or (03) 9203 9700

E-mail: info@esv.vic.gov.au

www.esv.vic.gov.au

Victoria has mutual recognition, meaning that an individual holding a license in another state or territory of Australian or New Zealand can apply for a comparable license in Victoria.

All requirements laid out by ESV must be met on an equivalent basis, however.

Sydney

New South Wales offers a number of licensing programs to those working within the electrical industry, including:

  • Cpowering-australia52ontractor License – for individual general electricians working as contractors
  • Contractor License – for companies or partnerships working as contractors
  • Qualified Supervisor Certificate – for those supervising contractors in electrical work
  • Disconnection and Reconnection License – for those working in this capacity on fixed electrical equipment

Each license is in force for a maximum of three years, and varies in terms of fees for application and renewal.

General electricians working in Sydney can contact the Office of Fair Trading for additional information:

Office of Fair Trading

PO Box 972

Parramatta NSW 2124

Telephone: (02) 13 32 20

www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

New South Wales has mutual recognition, meaning that an individual holding a license in another state or territory of Australian or New Zealand can apply for a comparable license in New South Wales.

All requirements laid out by the Office of Fair Trading must be met on an equivalent basis, however.

Perth

In Western Australia, licenses are issued for the following types of general electrician work:

  • powering-australia49Electrical contracting work – to electrical contractors both individual and partnerships/companies
  • Electrical installing work – to general electricians working in a variety of sectors
  • Electrical training – to apprentices and trainees. An apprentice/trainee electrician will have a license card issued for the period of the apprenticeship/traineeship.
  • Restricted electrical work – to restricted electrical workers. Individuals holding this license cannot carry out the installation or alterations to fixed wiring or to repair or replace items such as power points, lighting fittings etc.

Each license is in force for a maximum of three years, and varies in terms of fees for application and renewal.

General electricians working in Perth can contact Energy Safety for additional information:

Energy Safety

PO Box 135

Cannington WA 6987

Telephone: (08) 9422 5200

E-mail: energysafety@commerce.wa.gov.au

www.commerce.wa.gov.au/EnergySafety

Western Australia has mutual recognition, meaning that an individual holding a license in another state or territory of Australian or New Zealand can apply for a comparable license in Western Australia.

All requirements laid out by Energy Safety must be met on an equivalent basis, however.

Brisbane

In Queensland, licenses are issued for the following types of general electrician work:

  • powering-australia75Electrical mechanic license – open electrician license for individuals
  • Electrical linesperson license – allows individuals to perform electrical line work
  • Electrical fitter license – allows individuals to perform electrical equipment work
  • Electrical jointer license – for individuals performing limited specialist installing, jointing and terminating cables
  • Restricted electrical work license – limits individuals to specific electrical work associated with another trade
  • Electrical work training permit – for use with individuals in apprenticeship or training programs

Each license is in force for a maximum of five years, and varies in terms of fees for application and renewal.

General electricians working in Brisbane can contact the Electrical Safety Office Department of Justice and Attorney General for additional information:

Electrical Safety Office Department of Justice and Attorney General

PO Box 820

Lutwyche QLD 4030

Telephone: 1300 362 320

www.electricalsafety.qld.gov.au

Queensland has mutual recognition, meaning that an individual holding a license in another state or territory of Australian or New Zealand can apply for a comparable license in Queensland.

All requirements laid out by the Electrical Safety Office Department of Justice and Attorney General must be met on an equivalent basis, however.

Adelaide

In South Australia, licenses are issued for the following types of general electrician work:

  • Electrical Workers Registration – provided for individuals in any type of electrical work
  • Electrical Contractors License – for those working as individual contractors or under       a partnership or company
  • Restricted electrical work license – limits individuals to specific electrical work associated with another tradepowering-australia62

Each license is in force for a maximum of three years, and varies in terms of fees for application and renewal.

General electricians working in Adelaide can contact the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs for additional information:

Office of Consumer and Business Affairs

GPO Box 1719

Adelaide SA 5001

DX225

Telephone: (08) 8204 9696

E-mail: pge.bos@agd.sa.gov.au

www.ocba.sa.gov.au/licensing

South Australia has mutual recognition, meaning that an individual holding a license in another state or territory of Australian or New Zealand can apply for a comparable license in South Australia.

All requirements laid out by the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs must be met on an equivalent basis, however.

Gold Coast

In Queensland, licenses are issued for the following types of general electrician work:powering-australia63

  • Electrical mechanic license – open electrician license for individuals
  • Electrical linesperson license – allows individuals to perform electrical line work
  • Electrical fitter license – allows individuals to perform electrical equipment work
  • Electrical jointer license – for individuals performing limited specialist installing, jointing and terminating cables
  • Restricted electrical work license – limits individuals to specific electrical work associated with another trade
  • Electrical work training permit – for use with individuals in apprenticeship or training programs

Each license is in force for a maximum of five years, and varies in terms of fees for application and renewal.

General electricians working in Brisbane can contact the Electrical Safety Office Department of Justice and Attorney General for additional information:

Electrical Safety Office Department of Justice and Attorney General

PO Box 820

Lutwyche QLD 4030

Telephone: 1300 362 320

www.electricalsafety.qld.gov.au

Queensland has mutual recognition, meaning that an individual holding a license in another state or territory of Australian or New Zealand can apply for a comparable license in Queensland.

All requirements laid out by the Electrical Safety Office Department of Justice and Attorney General must be met on an equivalent basis, however.