How to Become an Electrician

As baby boomers age, skilled tradesmen are in high demand. This is a good time to consider a career as an electrician.

Most electricians start out by taking classes at a vocational school or community college. This is followed by an apprenticeship, which combines classroom instruction with on-the-job experience.
Electrical Wiring

Electricians use their knowledge of electrical wiring systems to install, repair and maintain power, communication and data lines. They may specialize in residential, commercial or industrial wiring.

Most electricians gain their experience on-the-job through an apprenticeship program lasting four or five years. Some state licensing requirements may apply.

Those interested in becoming an electrician should have good mathematical and scientific skills. They should also have keen eyesight and the ability to work independently. These skills are necessary to complete precision tasks, often in time-sensitive situations. Electricians must meet recognized standards for installations and repairs. These requirements include a thorough understanding of code and safety procedures.
Wiring Devices

Electrical wiring devices are used to connect wires and control the flow of electricity. They are available in a wide range of shapes and sizes. Examples include plugs, sockets, switches, trunking and cable channels.

Electrical wires have color markings on their insulation or outer sheathing to indicate what they are used for. Black, red, blue or white are the most common colors. Generally, the ‘live’ conductor is the one carrying current from the electrical service to a circuit point such as a light or outlet.

Other important electrical wiring devices are arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). These are safety devices that detect unintended electrical arcing and disconnect the power before the arc starts a fire.

Switchgear is an electrical assembly that handles higher voltages and currents than a standard panelboard. It also protects against faults by managing the flow of electricity and isolating problem areas.

This equipment includes fuses, switches & circuit breakers. It is necessary for power conducting & helps prevent network overload by evenly distributing energy throughout the system. It can also detect problems & respond accordingly, like switching buildings from commercial to generated power supply if it senses an outage in the commercial one.

Electricians inspect switchgear to ensure physical damage and compare nameplate details with platform design documents. They also perform mechanical operator and contact alignment tests.

A generator is a machine that provides electrical power when the local power grid is down. They can also be used as a primary source of electricity in areas without access to the grid such as mining or farming operations.

The generator works by converting mechanical energy into electric power using the principle of electromagnetic induction discovered by Michael Faraday. This involves moving an electrical conductor within a magnetic field to induce flow of electrons through the circuit.

A home generator can be a lifesaver during extended blackouts. They can help people with medical conditions stay comfortable and deter burglars who often target homes during outages.

Insulation is material that creates barriers to transmitting heat, electricity, sound or moisture. It’s used in walls, attics and floors. It also covers ductwork, electrical and plumbing cables and conduits to improve their appearance.

Insulators are available in a variety of materials. Most are easy to install. Some are flammable, so you must follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions and safety precautions carefully.

Fiberglass batts, mineral wool and cellulose are commonly available in rolls or precut to fit standard wall stud dimensions. When installing them, avoid compressing the insulation since it reduces its R-value. For areas around electrical boxes, notch the insulation rather than cutting it and tuck the cutout behind the box.

Electrical meters measure and record the amount of energy that has been used over a period. They are generally installed in-line with power lines between the electricity supplier and the customer.

Most domestic meters are manually read either by a power company representative or the consumer. The reading is then recorded and sent to the power company by post or online.

A clamp meter simply “clamps” around a wire to measure current without disconnecting or cutting power. This tool is more useful than probe-style testers in situations where it’s not safe to disconnect power. Elliott has a wide selection of electrical meters and testers to choose from.

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