It’s all around, part of everything involved in the modern world. It runs computers, trains, and homes and businesses. It lights the corner, the street and the world. It’s electricity and it’s something very much taken for granted until there is darkness when light is expected.
Keeping everything from those trains to morning coffee pots running is the electrician. On a beginning level, an electrician, particularly once he or she has attained the level of master, is the person who has undergone training and obtained education in all aspects of electricity, from theory to practical application.
For someone starting out on the path to becoming electrician, a high school diploma or the equivalent is the right beginning. There’s some serious training involved in mastering this career, as well as an apprenticeship period. Each electrician generally chooses one area of specialization of the three major areas available in the electrical field.
The domain of the residential electrician is the home, from single family, to condo, to townhouse and every other manner of noncommercial structure. Some of their responsibilities include: Lighting, systems that operate communications, heating and air conditioning, electricity within the home, and other equipment that runs on electricity. In addition, residential electricians security and other safety networks, systems that control energy management and computer networks in the home.
Residential electricians also perform any testing needed for property functioning of existing electrical systems and upgrades and/or repairs to that system. All electrical breakers, circuit panels, switches and relays are included in their technical skills.
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As their title states, commercial electricians use their professional training to work in commercial buildings, as well as for projects issued by city and state governments.
Heavy machinery – such as industrial air conditioning – requires different wiring specifications than does a single home unit and commercial electricians undergo additional training and education to meet all safety regulations. They also integrate wiring for surveillance systems, both audio and video, and for systems for fire detection. Computer cabling for IT systems is also an aspect of their work duties, as is troubleshooting, repairing, and maintaining varying voltage systems and circuitry. For transformers, generators and motor wiring, they test, troubleshoot, and repair.
At commercial plants and other industrial sites, the industrial electrician is in charge of electrical equipment and other types of electronic and electric controls, from installation to repair and/or replacement. Industrial electricians are well-versed in utilizing blueprints to delineate their job specifications and can understand and implement code specifications applicable to their work.
Electricians who specialize in the industrial aspect of the electrical field work in most aspects of installation, repair, and maintenance of: wiring for heavy machinery and the controls to operate and maintain; industrial storage batteries, generators, motors and other control systems; and switchboard meters, regulators, reactors, transformers and more. Increasing these industrial electricians are involved with robotics.
Getting the electrical wiring to a home and business is within the purview of the outside lineman. These electricians are involved from the beginning of a project with its planning and continue, either through direct personal involvement or through supervision of Journeymen and apprentices, to the conclusion of a particular project.
Their domains consists of, but is not limited to, transmission lines, construction of towers and poles to facilitate the lines, underground electrical distribution, substation assembly and erection, installing and/or maintaining wires, and the installation and maintenance of transformers and other equipment.
The common thread throughout all aspects of electrical work is training and experience. The beginning phase of the education needed to enter this field can be done in approximately 18 months depending on the program the student attends. If the student attends a program at a facility location, class time will usually extend the full 18 months. With online classes, students can complete the curriculum at a faster pace as they will be undertaking the lessons at their own pace.
The electrical field is not an area where just having an idea how it works is acceptable. Each future electrician must fully understand exactly how electricity works in its different applications. Safety is usually taught right at the beginning of these programs, as well as the fundamentals of working with such potentially dangerous equipment.
Electrical equipment is presented throughout the lessons, including the proper usage of common industry tools to gauge and measure. Electrical symbols are detailed, as is the operation of circuits and conductors. Insulators and resistors are explained, along with thermostats, control diagrams, fuses, switches, relays, and devices and loads. At the end of the classroom instruction, the student will be prepared to take the Journeyman Exam.
In conjunction with the initial formalized instruction, or after completing it, the student must participate in an apprenticeship, working under the guidance of a licensed electrician to learn through practical application. It will take approximately four years – at 2000 hours per year – for the student to move through the ranks and become a full Journeyman electrician.
During the time period of the apprenticeship, electrician students take additional classroom instruction that often results in determining the specific area of the electrical field in which they would like to work. Once the electrician has reached the fourth year as a Journeyman and their educational and practical application hours have reached the requisite amount, the level of master electrician can be attained.
The technical nature of this work draws some of the best and brightest candidates to a field that rewards education, knowledge and dedication.
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