Working in the trades as an electrician is a great idea. There are so many benefits to it – like the fact that you’re always learning and no two days are the same. Then, of course, there’s the fact that if you have enough experience to start your own company, you can work your own hours at your own rates. But that being said, it’s also really hard work, especially in the beginning. The work is hard, the hours are long, and you’ll probably make more than a few mistakes at the start. However, if you’re prepared for it, it’s a very rewarding job. We’re going to be going over a few tips and tricks to make it easier for people just stepping into this field.
Know your terms
Knowing the terms for equipment as well as the pieces you’ll be working on is very important. This will enable clear communication between you and your clients or people you work with. It will also help prevent misunderstandings and make the job go by quicker. On top of that, it will assure your clients that you know what you’re doing. We’re not talking basic terms here, either. Most people know what an electric current it, but not everyone will know about Pushmatic breakers. Knowing the current terms for equipment and tools is also handy when it comes to assessing a problem and knowing what you need to order to be able to fix it.
Get the right tools
Any type of trade requires tools of some sort, and the electrical trade is no different. You naturally need all the basics one can find in a normal toolbox, but that won’t be enough. You’re also going to need specialized tools, especially because working as an electrician requires so much fine work when it comes to wiring, and you’ll need tools capable of working on those small parts without damaging them. Tools are expensive though, so you may not be able to get them all immediately. That’s completely okay! As long as you have the basics, you should be fine until you can afford to expand your selection of tools. You’ll likely always be replacing your tools with better ones.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
There’s no shame in asking for help. If you’re just starting off as an electrician, you’ll likely be working as an apprentice or assistance, which means you’ll have a mentor. Don’t forget that they’re there to help you. In fact, they’ll probably appreciate you asking for help rather than attempting to do something you’re not confident on and making a mistake. Similarly, you should be able to admit if you don’t know the answer to a problem. Most people avoid asking for help because they’re too proud, but that’s why there are people with more experience – so that they can help you. No one started off knowing everything, which is why leadership is so incredibly important.
Theory is important
You’ve likely had to study to some extent in order to get where you are now, working as an electrician. Remember all of that information you had to memorize? Well, unfortunately, you’re going to need that. Many people make the mistake of assuming that for the trades, you don’t need any knowledge of the theory behind it, since you’ll be working with your hands. While the trades don’t require as much theory-work as other subjects, because it’s more hands-on, you do still need that knowledge in order to know how to assess and fix problems. So, don’t get rid of all of textbooks just yet.
Safety is the number one most important aspect of working as an electrician. And not only for beginner electricians. Experienced electricians often stop performing all safety requirements, because they think that they have done a specific job enough times in order to do it without getting hurt. However, no matter how many years on the job you have, you can never be too safe. You need to take all the proper safety precautions not only for yourself, but also for the other people in the building with you. Make sure you have all the necessary gear in order to protect yourself, and be sure to follow any protocols necessary for whatever job you’ll be doing. You can learn more about electrical safety in the workplace here.
As mentioned, being an electrician means that there’s always room to learn more and improve yourself. Technology is changing every day, which means that electrical appliances and procedures are as well. This means you can never stop learning, which in turn means that you can never stop practicing. “Practice makes perfect” is such a popular phrase because it’s so true. Over time, with practice, your technique will improve and you’ll be able to perform tasks quicker and neater. So, whenever you have some free time, practice, practice, practice. Especially in the beginning.
While it’s true that the trades are not as rigid as other jobs that are located in offices, that doesn’t give you an excuse to be unprofessional. Professionality may look different for an electrician, but there are still ways to maintain it. You can have a neat appearance, and always be on time for any appointments. Do your job to the best of your abilities. There are various other ways of being professional, so be sure to try and incorporate them.
Agree on a rate beforehand
When you’re working with a client, be sure to discuss any fees upfront, including an estimate of what any products will cost. This will prevent any conflict or disappointment from either side later on. If there are any changes that come up, be sure to communicate that to your client, as well as explaining any extra costs and the reasons for them. Keep in mind that if you’re starting out, you can’t be expecting to earn as much as someone who’s been at this job for a long time. After a few years, you can start to up your hourly rate.