Career Map: Industrial Electrician
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Industrial Electricians: install, maintain, test, troubleshoot, and repair industrial electrical equipment, associated electrical and electronic controls, and hydraulic and pneumatic equipment. They work in industrial, manufacturing, and power plants, often as permanent employees.
Certification Requirements in Ontario
Certification to work in a trade in Ontario is called a Certificate of Qualification. This is often referred to, as the "C of Q". Trade certification for Industrial Electricians in Ontario is available through Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship offices of the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU). The legislation that regulates Industrial Electricians is the Apprenticeship and Certification Act (1998).
Certification for Industrial Electricians is voluntary. This means that the electrician can work without being certified. However, certification is recommended. Most Industrial Electricians working in Ontario are certified, and most employers ask for both the C of Q and the C of A - the Certificate of Apprenticeship. Certified Industrial Electricians have better employment opportunities and earn higher wages than those without certification.
To become a certified Industrial Electrician in Ontario you must do one of the following:
- complete a four- to 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.
- complete five years of work experience as an Industrial Electrician
- prove equivalent work experience
When you have done this, you must also:
- apply for the Certificate of Qualification
- 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 – Industrial Electrician. This document lists in detail all of the skills and work tasks that Industrial Electricians must be able to demonstrate in order to be eligible to write the Certification 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
- select and use hand and power tools
- install, maintain, and repair wiring systems
- select and use test and measuring equipment
- read, interpret, and revise schematic drawings and documentation
- install, maintain, and repair lighting systems
- install, maintain, and troubleshoot power distribution systems
- select, install, and maintain batteries and battery chargers
- install, maintain, and troubleshoot control systems
- install, maintain, and troubleshoot rotating equipment
- install, maintain, and troubleshoot motor drive systems
- install, maintain, and troubleshoot microprocessor-based systems
As an internationally trained Industrial 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 an Industrial Electrician, you are not required to pass an English language test, but the job requires excellent language skills. As an Industrial Electrician, you are required to read and interpret technical manufacturers’ manuals, schematic drawings, and health and safety guidelines. You must also be able to give and receive instructions clearly and effectively.
To become certified, you must write a technical 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 used to evaluate 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 Industrial Electricians in Ontario. It can take as little as a week if you are immediately eligible to write the certification exam, or as long as five years if you have to complete a full apprenticeship.
Before You Emigrate To Canada
Get as much information as possible about working as an electrician in Ontario. Apprenticeship Training Standards – Industrial 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 an Industrial 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 in an industrial setting. 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
The Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship offices process all applications for trade certification in Ontario. When you arrive in Ontario, contact the office in your area and make an appointment to see a training consultant. If you haven’t already requested a copy of Apprenticeship Standards – Industrial Electrician, you can get one from these offices.
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 an Industrial Electrician in Ontario.
Step 2. Assessment of Your Previous Training and Experience
The training consultant will assess your documents and compare your training and experience to that required in Ontario. If your documented experience is equivalent to that required 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. If your documented experience is not equivalent to Ontario’s training requirements, you may have to get more training and work experience.
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 want a well-written resume and for you to tell them about 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 an Industrial 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. Exam Preparation
The Certificate of Qualification exam is based on the skills that Industrial 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 – Industrial 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)
- 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. A ministry 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 training over several weekends and cost about $300.
Some community agencies may also offer special training courses for internationally trained Industrial Electricians. Contact the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) at the address shown at the end of this fact sheet. OCASI can provide information about settlement agencies in your community.
Step 5. Certificate of Qualification Exam
You may write the Certificate of Qualification examination for Industrial Electrician at a Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities’ Labour Market and Training Division Apprenticeship office, once you have either completed an apprenticeship or been approved based on your work experience 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 industrial electricity. 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.
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 6. 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. Industrial Electricians receive a lifetime certificate and renewal is not required.
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. Industrial Electricians work in industries that are constantly changing and where computer knowledge is increasingly required. Most Industrial Electricians will require training and upgrading throughout their careers. Training and upgrading courses are offered by community colleges and trade schools, often as evening courses. The cost for these courses is between $75 and $100. Unions and other associations may also offer training courses.
Labour Market Information
Industrial Electricians work for electrical construction firms, motor vehicle manufacturers, primary steel producers, mining companies, pulp and paper companies, motor vehicle parts manufacturers, and electric power companies. Electricians who install and repair robots and other computerized control equipment used in the auto parts and manufacturing sectors are becoming an increasingly important part of the manufacturing team.
The increase in the number of jobs for 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 salary for Industrial 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 on-the-job work experience of an Industrial Electrician.
Industrial Electricians often work in electrical power plants or generating plants. In this setting, they commonly work as powerhouse operators and power line workers. Both of these occupations also have voluntary certification.
Electrical trades in the construction sector include Construction and Maintenance Electricians, Domestic and Rural Electricians, and construction Power Line Workers. Certification is compulsory for Construction and Maintenance Electricians and for Domestic and Rural Electricians, but it is voluntary for construction Power Line Workers.
Other related occupations include appliance technician, communication electrician, electrical winder-repairer, electronic technician, electronic engineering technologist or technician, and electrical appliance salesperson. For information on these and other related occupations see Ontario Job Futures on the Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC) website. The Ontario Job Futures binder is also available at public libraries or at HRDC Employment Resource Centres in your community.
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
- 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 M3B 1Z3
For information on joining a union, contact:
I.B.E.W. Local 894
26 Caristrap Street
For information on apprenticeship for electricians, contact:
Joint Apprenticeship Council (JAC)
23 Lesmill Road
M3B 3P6 [No, Toronto]
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 Boulevard West
Mississauga Ontario L5R 3L5
For information on where to get help once you arrive in Ontario, contact:
Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)
110 Eglinton Avenue West
For information on settling in Ontario, visit www.settlement.org.
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