Career Map: Construction and Maintenance Electrician
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Construction and Maintenance Electricians work in residential and commercial buildings such as shopping malls and hotels. They lie out, assemble, repair, maintain, connect, and test electrical fixtures, apparatus, control equipment, and wiring. They also work on alarm, communication, light, heating, and power systems, and they test equipment and systems. Construction and Maintenance Electricians generally work on a project-by-project basis.
Certification Requirements in Ontario
This is a regulated trade, and certification is compulsory. The legislation regulating Construction and Maintenance Electricians is the Trades Qualification and Apprenticeship Act (1981). This law says that in Ontario it is illegal for anyone other than an apprentice, a holder of a valid provisional certificate, or the holder of a valid licence called a Certificate of Qualification (C of Q) to do any of the work of a Construction and Maintenance Electrician. Trade certification for Construction and Maintenance Electricians is available through Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship offices of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU).
To become a Construction and Maintenance Electrician in Ontario you must do one of the following:
- complete a five-year apprenticeship. Apprenticeship includes on-the-job training (about 90 per cent of the apprenticeship) and some in-school training (about 10 per cent of the apprenticeship). Apprenticeship is a training agreement between a person who wants to learn a skilled trade and an employer who needs a skilled worker. An apprentice earns at least minimum wage while working and learning the skills necessary to become a qualified tradesperson or journeyperson. Apprentices receive a Certificate of Apprenticeship when they complete their training. Employers often request this certificate as proof of training and experience.
- prove that you have the training and on-the-job experience that meets the requirements for the trade in Ontario.
When you have done this, you must also:
- apply for the Certificate of Qualification (this is called the “C of Q”) and receive a provisional certificate
- pay the required fees
- write and pass the Certificate of Qualification exam
Competencies Required to Practise Your Trade in Ontario
Before you can receive government certification, you must complete training that covers the competencies listed in the Apprenticeship Training Standards – Construction and Maintenance Electrician. This document lists in detail all of the skills and work tasks that Construction and Maintenance Electricians must be able to demonstrate in order to be eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification exam. In Ontario, an employer who sponsors an apprenticeship signs off on each of the following competencies during an apprenticeship:
- protect self and others
- perform basic job skills
- select, maintain, and use tools and equipment
- install, maintain, and repair wiring systems
- select, install, and test grounding and bonding devices
- select, install, and maintain communication systems
- select, install, and maintain motor drives and controls
- select, install, and maintain power distribution equipment
- select, install, and maintain instrumentation equipment
- install and maintain stand-by power systems
- select, install, and maintain lighting systems
- read, interpret, and revise drawings and specifications
As an internationally trained electrician, you must be able to prove that you have these skills before you can write the Certificate of Qualification exam.
When you apply for certification as a Construction and Maintenance Electrician, you are not required to pass an English language test, but the job requires excellent language skills. Construction and Maintenance Electricians may be required to read, interpret, and revise drawings and specifications. You must also be able to give and receive instructions clearly and effectively.
To become certified, you must write a multiple-choice exam, which requires a knowledge and understanding of the English terms used in this trade.
There is no automatic certification for internationally trained tradespeople in any trade in Ontario, but there is an assessment process that evaluates the training and experience of internationally trained tradespeople. The length of time that it will take you to become certified will depend on how closely your training and experience match the training standards for Construction and Maintenance Electricians in Ontario. It can take as little as a week if you have the equivalent training, or as long as five years if you need to get work experience or to complete an apprenticeship.
Before You Emigrate To Canada
Get as much information as possible about working as an electrician in Ontario. Apprenticeship Training Standards – Construction and Maintenance Electrician is a useful reference if you are unfamiliar with the terminology used and the skills required in Ontario. You can get a copy of this booklet from a Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office in Ontario. (There is a list of these offices at the end of this fact sheet.)
You will need proof of your training and experience. Collect documentation that proves your skill level as a Construction and Maintenance Electrician. Include letters from employers or unions, diplomas, and other documents that describe your training and the work tasks you have performed. These documents must also show where and for how long you have worked as an electrician. It is important to include as much information as possible about your years of experience and your duties at work, because the evaluation of your skills will be based on your on-the-job experience.
When You Arrive In Ontario
Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship offices process all applications for trade certification in Ontario. When you arrive in Ontario, contact the Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office in your area and make an appointment to see a training consultant. If you haven’t already requested a copy of Apprenticeship Standards – Construction and Maintenance Electrician, you can get one from the office.
Step 1. Meeting a Training Consultant
The training consultant will ask you for documentation that describes your past work experience and training. Take as many of these documents as possible to this first meeting:
- dated letters written on company letterhead from the companies (or unions, if applicable) for whom you worked, stating:
- your job title
- the exact start and finish dates of your employment in the trade
- the number of hours you worked
- a detailed description of the skills your demonstrated on the job, and a complete description of your job duties
- your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- trade certificates, diplomas, or licences
- official school transcripts from your training
- a detailed list of the subjects covered in each course and the length of each course
If these documents are in a language other than English or French, bring a translation that is signed by a registered translator, a notary public, or a lawyer.
The training consultant will use these documents to compare your work experience to the requirements for certification as a Construction and Maintenance Electrician in Ontario.
Step 2. Assessment of Your Previous Training and Experience
The training consultant will assess your training and experience and determine if you need further training and experience in your trade before you write the Certificate of Qualification exam.
If your documented experience is equivalent to that of an apprentice in Ontario, you will be eligible to write the Certificate of Qualification exam. You will then complete an application for the Certificate of Qualification.
Training and work experience
If required, you can enter into an apprenticeship agreement to get on-the-job training. To get a position as an apprentice, you must apply directly to employers and find one to sponsor your apprenticeship. You will then register your apprenticeship agreement with a Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office.
You can find employers by looking in the Yellow Pages (the telephone directory for businesses) or in local newspapers. Employers sometimes place job ads at government employment agencies. Employers will want to see a well-written résumé and for you to tell them how you will benefit their business and the trade.
Attestation of Competencies
In addition to providing documentation above, you will be asked to complete and sign an Attestation of Competencies. This document is an oath that you make, stating that you have all the competencies required for the trade. This Attestation of Competencies will be considered as proof that you are able to do the work of a Construction and Maintenance Electrician. A false attestation is a serious criminal offence.
Step 3. Application for the Certificate Of Qualification
When you have met the requirements for certification, you will apply for the Certificate of Qualification.
Step 4. Provisional Certificate of Qualification
After you complete an application for the Certificate of Qualification, you will receive a Provisional Certificate of Qualification (a temporary licence). This allows you to work for up to ninety days until you write the exam for the Certificate of Qualification. You must write the exam within this time.
Step 5. Exam Preparation
The Certificate of Qualification exam is based on the skills that Construction and Maintenance Electricians need to succeed in the workplace. The content of the exam reflects both on-the-job and in-school training. This is why many workers who have not worked in Ontario find the exam difficult.
The best way to prepare for the exam is to make sure that you can perform all the skills described in Apprenticeship Training Standards – Construction and Maintenance Electrician. Study the competencies and be sure that you can explain the theory behind each task. Work experience is helpful before writing the exam.
You should also study the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, available at most community college libraries in Ontario. The following readings are also recommended for preparation for the exam:
- Canadian Electrical Code by R. Gilmour (Canadian Standards Association)
- Delmar’s Standard Textbook of Electricity (Delmar Publishers)
- Electrical Wiring: Commercial by Ray C. Mullin and Robert L. Smith (Delmar Publishing)
- Electrical Wiring: Residential by Ray C. Mullin (Delmar Publishing)
- Electronics for Industrial Electricians by Stephen L. Herman (Delmar Publishers)
In Ontario, these books are available at community college libraries and bookstores, and possibly at local libraries or general bookstores. The training consultant may be able to give you the titles of other helpful publications.
Many community colleges offer pre-exam or exam preparation courses. These courses give applicants practice in writing the exams. They usually provide about sixty hours of training over several weekends and cost about $300.
Some community agencies may also offer special training courses for internationally trained Construction and Maintenance Electricians. Contact the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI). (See the contact information at the end of this fact sheet.) OCASI can provide information about settlement agencies in your community.
Step 6. Certificate of Qualification Exam
You may write the Certificate of Qualification exam for Construction and Maintenance Electricians at any Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office, once you have either completed an apprenticeship or demonstrated that you have the on-the-job experience required for this trade. The exam is available year-round, usually by appointment. You can arrange a date to write the exam during your meeting with a training consultant, or you can call the Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office to make an appointment to write the exam. You must show photo ID on the day of the exam.
Description of the exam
The Certificate of Qualification exam is a written exam with multiple-choice questions. These questions test your practical knowledge of workplace procedures and tasks. You are allowed three hours to complete the exam.
If you have difficulty with English, you are allowed to bring a reader with you. Readers can be anyone whose English skills are strong; they may be relatives, friends, or interpreters from your community. Readers can translate the parts of the exam that you don’t understand, but they are not allowed to help you answer the questions. The exam is highly technical; make sure that you choose someone who knows English well, but does not have knowledge of the Construction and Maintenance Electrician trade. Readers must sign a statement that they do not have any training or experience in the trade.
Dictionaries, pencils, erasers, and paper are available in the exam room. If you bring your own dictionary, you will be asked to submit it to the exam supervisor for inspection.
The pass mark for the exam is 70 per cent. You will receive a Red Seal on your certificate. The Red Seal is the interprovincial certification that allows tradespeople to work in other Canadian provinces and territories.
Rewriting failed exams
Your exam results will be mailed to you. The results sheet will detail the score as a percentage for each section of the exam, so if you fail, you will know which areas you still need to improve. You can rewrite the exam after fifteen days. If you fail the exam twice, you will be required either to take a refresher course to upgrade your training or to get more work experience before you can try the exam again. There is a $100 fee every time you write the exam.
Step 7. Certificate of Qualification
If you pass the exam, your Certificate of Qualification will be mailed to you. You can get an official duplicate (copy) of the certificate from the Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office for a fee of $60. Construction and Maintenance Electricians must renew their certificates once every three years. The renewal fee is $60.
Fees and Costs(in Canadian dollars)
|Application for the Certificate of Qualification||no fee|
|Registration of an apprenticeship,|
|Certificate of Qualification examination||$100|
|Rewriting failed exams (re-examination)||$100|
Training and Upgrading
You may need to take upgrading courses to help you prepare for the exam. But training and upgrading doesn’t stop there. Construction and Maintenance Electricians need skills to operate computer control equipment and to deal with fibre optics, local area networks, and coaxial cable. Community colleges, trade schools, unions, and other associations offer training and upgrading courses, often as evening courses. The cost for these courses is between $75 and $100.
Labour Market Information
Construction and Maintenance Electricians work for electrical construction firms and electric power companies. The growth in employment for Construction and Maintenance Electricians is above average. The current workforce in this occupation is aging, so there will be job opportunities for new workers resulting from a high level of retirement.
The increased use of computers to control building functions, such as heating, air conditioning, ventilation, elevators, and lighting, will provide work for Construction and Maintenance Electricians who install the equipment and wiring for these systems. Technology in the electrical field is advancing more rapidly than in any other construction trade.
The salary for Construction and Maintenance Electricians varies according to the workplace and local labour market conditions. The average salary ranges from $14,600 for an apprentice to $65,000 for a journeyperson (certified tradesperson), excluding overtime and bonuses.
For more information on labour market conditions, see Ontario Job Futures at www.ontariojobfutures.net or on the Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) website. In Ontario, this information is also available in the Ontario Job Futures binder at public libraries or at HRDC Employment Resource Centres in your community.
Related Trades and Occupations
Many internationally trained electrical engineers, technicians, and technologists apply to become electricians in Ontario. It is important to remember that although there are many similarities in these occupations, the skills required of an electrician are hands-on, and very different from the duties of electrical engineers, technicians, and technologists. Electrical engineers, technicians, and technologists may be surprised when their applications to become certified as electricians are refused, but applicants must show proof that they have the work experience of an electrician.
Electrical trades in the construction sector include domestic and rural electricians, and construction power line workers. Certification is compulsory to work as a domestic and rural electrician, but it is voluntary for construction power line workers.
Other related occupations include industrial electrician, powerhouse operator, electrical winder-repairer, electronic technician, electronic engineering technologist or technician, appliance technician, communication electrician, and electrical appliance salesperson.
MTCU apprenticeship offices in Ontario
To order a copy of the training standard for your trade, to get more information about certification, or to make an appointment with a training consultant, contact the MTCU office in your community.
Hamilton Central Office
North Bay Office
Owen Sound Office
901 Lansdowne Street West
Sault Ste. Marie Office
St Catharines Office
Thunder Bay Office
Toronto Central Office
For More Information
For information on certification requirements and training in Ontario, contact:
- Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities - training hotline (no charge in Ontario): 1-800-387-5656; website: www.ontario.ca/employmentontario.ca
- the MTCU apprenticeship office in your community (see the addresses and fax and telephone numbers listed above)
For information on the electrical industry in Ontario, contact:
The Ontario Electrical League
101 Duncan Mill Road
North York, Ontario
For information on joining a union, contact:
I.B.E.W. Local 894
26 Caristrap St
For information on joining a construction trades union, contact:
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Construction Council of Ontario
61 International Blvd.
Etobicoke, Ontario M9W 6K4
For more information on apprenticeship for electricians, contact:
Joint Apprenticeship Council (JAC)
23 Lesmill Road
Toronto, Ontario M3B 3P6
For information on electrical contractors in Ontario, contact:
Electrical Contractors Association of Ontario
170 Atwell Drive
For information about electrical safety standards in Ontario, contact:
Ontario Electrical League
Mr. Ted Olechna, Provincial Code Engineer
155A Matheson Blvd West
For information on where to get help once you arrive in Ontario, contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West, Suite 200
For information about accessing professions and trades in Ontario, contact:
Government of Ontario
Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
Global Experience Ontario (GEO)
Tel: 416-327-9694 or 1-866-670-4094
TTY: 416-327-9710 or 1-866–388-2262