High wages, job security and interesting work — what's not to like about the skilled trades careers?
Updated: Apr 26
If you are a young person who likes working with your hands, solving problems and enjoys job security, you can’t do much better than becoming an electrician, says Vancouver’s Bram Patola Moosmann.
“There is always a need for more electricity,” said the apprentice industrial electrician, whose future involves joining the team of nearly 4,800 people working on B.C. Hydro’s Site C dam, including just more than 500 women as of January 2023.
“That’s one of the things about this career path that drew me to it, actually, is that it is a very secure career path,” he said. “It’s really fantastic because it means the power grid is constantly and constantly expanding. They are building very new and interesting projects and I get to be a part of that.”
The annual salary alone in skilled trades careers may spark some interest, ranging from a starting median wage of $72,640 in Vancouver, according to salary.com, to $122,340 for an experienced electrician or even higher.
“Put very simply, anywhere there’s tools and anywhere there’s people there has to be power,” he said. “If you have somebody working in the resource industry out in a remote location, they still need to be able to have wherever they’re living heated, they still need to be able to cook their food, they need to be able to run their power tools. Electricity is needed everywhere."
Most electrical apprentices become residential electricians, which involves wiring homes and apartment buildings or even “more commercial things like hospitals,” said Bram. “Industrial is more like manufacturing or working on the power grid, working in factories. Higher voltages, bigger equipment.”
Industrial electricians also learn and use “a lot more mechanical skills . . . working on moving parts and springs and bearings, things like that” while they install and maintain the electrical equipment that runs facilities such as pulp mills, lumber mills and refineries, he said.
A growing number of electricians are also needed to expand the power grid for the increasing use of electric vehicles. “In B.C., where most of the power generation is hydro-electric, you are literally taking moving water and using it to push your car,” Bram said. “That’s pretty cool!”
But Bram said there are downsides to the career that people should consider, including working outdoors in lousy weather such as rain, snow or 40C heat. However, not being chained to a desk has its advantages, with perks including spectacular views of nature in remote wilderness areas.
Electrical work can also be dangerous, with electricians being injured or even dying on the job if safety procedures aren’t properly followed or workers rush to get a task completed.
“The procedures are made so rigorously that it’s designed that in no way anybody could get injured ever,” Bram said. “The safety culture in general is fantastic.”
Bram said the main thing for young people interested in the trades is to “have a good attitude.”
“It’ll go an extremely long way if you show up early every day, you work hard, you show enthusiasm,” he said. “Show the people that you are working with that you want to be there and they’ll be a lot more enthusiastic to teach you and to reciprocate that energy towards your learning.”
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