Construction Electrician - Red Seal: Construction Business Owner
I was born/grew up in: Topsail, Conception Bay South, NL
I now live in: St. John’s, NL
I completed my training/education at: Academy Canada and College of the North Atlantic
Describe what you do at work.
When I am working on jobs under contract, our supervisor will complete a safety toolbox talk before we start work for the day. The supervisor/contractor will then assign tasks. Depending on the task assigned I will use a variety of math and estimation skills, particularly when something has to be installed in a certain space. Often I engage in a lot of problem solving as I figure out how to install the item in a particular location. This may require I use some carpentry skills. I also have to make sure the electrical components are installed according to the safety codes.
Sometimes I’m asked to try to repair some items such as electrical motors or heaters. This will often require me to consult the manual as I investigate the problem. Often I engage in problem solving to find out why the item is not working. Then I have to decide what can be fixed and what needs to be replaced. I use circuit testers and voltmeters regularly. My STEM training allows me to identify potential safety hazards and correct them before they cause problems. My training also allows me to identify the correct types of heaters, lights, and other electrical devices that need to be installed to meet safety codes and to satisfy the wants and needs of my customers.
When working on a renovation project, electricians are often solving problems you don’t see. This is because the wiring is hidden inside walls and electrical components have protective, safety boxes around them. When working on new construction projects the problems are usually in the way the client wants the finished product to appear. For example, the size of the room may call for more heaters than the builder estimated. Or the type of lighting planned in the building plans might not be the best for the building. When I see issues like this I will bring it to the attention of the builder/supervisor to ensure it is addressed correctly.
When I was a student I enjoyed:
How does your job affect people’s lives?
Because of the dangers involved you need special training to work with electricity. It is a great feeling to know that you perform a service that many people need. It is also great to know that the work you have completed will make a building both a safe and comfortable place for people to live or work. In my construction business I help people add beauty to their homes, mainly when they install special lighting elements such as chandeliers. I also respond to emergency situations such as in winter when someone’s household heating is not working properly.
When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:
What motivates you in your career?
Some of what motivates me in my career relates back to the reasons why I think my career matters to others; I’m performing a service that people need and I’m helping to keep them safe. I find my work is always interesting and exciting because no two projects or two days are exactly alike. Each job you work on will have different problems that need to be solved. I really enjoy trouble shooting to fix things that are broken or to find solutions to problems. I take great satisfaction in seeing a job completed. For example, when working on the wiring of a house or building, you get to see the whole process from running the wires, to installing the switches to seeing the different electrical components, such as lights and heaters, work properly. At the end of each day you can see the progress you have made.
Describe your career path to this career.
I did not set out with being an electrician in mind. In fact I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. When I graduated high school I worked in an office without any specific career path. Later, as an adult I decided that I wanted to do something more with my life. I went back to school as an adult student. This was very challenging as I had to relearn a lot of the basic things that you have when you graduate high school. I also had to relearn how to take notes, study for tests, and complete my assignments on time.
Because I like solving problems and working with my hands I wanted to do a skilled trades program. My father is an electrician so I thought I’d give that a try but I still did not have any real plans for how to use this trade. Through my training, apprenticeship and later work experience I got to work on industrial sites, then on wiring houses, and finally on commercial or business projects. These experiences gave me great flexibility on how to apply my skills as an electrician as I am qualified to work on jobs in any of these three areas. It also gave me the confidence to start my own business where I can combine my electrician’s skills with my artistic interests and help people create beauty in their home through lighting components.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I volunteer with the Duke of Edinburgh program where I lead youth on a 3-4 day wilderness hike as part of their requirements in this program. I am a member of the provincial governments’ Advanced Education program planning committee, representing electrical trades. I volunteer with Skills Newfoundland and Labrador as a mentor and conference speaker. I’m a National Representative on Build Together, a national program that promotes, supports and mentors women in the skilled construction trades. I enjoy kayaking, playing guitar, singing running and I teach yoga.
What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?
If you are interested in a career where you work with your hands, engage in problem solving, and where your work situation will change from day to day, the career of electrician could be for you. The program is challenging but once you finished the opportunities for growth and advancement are almost unlimited.
Let’s Talk Science is grateful to Skills Canada Newfoundland and Labrador for connecting us with this individual.