Working towards becoming a professional registered electrician is time-consuming and complex however it leads to an incredibly rewarding profession that is always in high demand. According to BusinessTech, electricians earn up to R382,117 a year and, along with electrical engineers, top the National Scarce Skills List. Many South Africans who see themselves as prospective electricians have found value in our How To Become A Professional Registered Electrician Series, but what are some of the personal and professional skills that are most valuable in this specific field of work?
Whether you’re a seasoned electrician who’s been in the business for years or if you’re a newly trained electrician who has recently registered with the DOL, these skills come in handy to outperform your competitors and do your job to the best of your ability.
It’s no surprise that problem-solving skills tops this list, considering that during their day to day electricians have to apply their minds to solving electrical problems that their clients have. Every day, various challenges present themselves and oftentimes they run from more simple tasks like choosing the right cable size to more complex tasks like planning the layout and installation of electrical wiring, equipment and fixtures. Diagnosing problems, troubleshooting and conducting tests are also a big part of the job and require strong problem-solving skills. Learning to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions is a vital skill for successful electricians to master.
Customer service and people skills are vital for any electrician as the job requires a lot of communication. An electrician that works for a large company might not have as much direct communication with customers but instead, their communication will mainly be with other team members while an electrician that works as a private contractor for themselves or through a company might have much more interaction with customers, builders, architects, homeowners, tenants etc. In either scenario, the electrician needs to handle the interaction in a way that makes themselves seem informed and trustworthy, puts the other party at ease and helps them feel comfortable. Electricians are often called at a time of crisis when a homeowner or tenant has an urgent electrical situation and emotions are running wild, it is imperative for the electrician to make the other party feel reassured and take them through the process in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
Not every electrician acts as an independent contractor with many being employed permanently by a company, but for most, the private contractor route does come into play at some point in their careers. Electricians with an entrepreneurial mindset have a lot of options to hone in on their business skills and create opportunities for themselves that lead to a great career trajectory. However, for the average contractor having basic business skills like invoicing, managing finances, keeping track of inventory etc. goes a long way to a successful career.
Basic math skills
Now, this is not to scare anyone away. By no means do you have to know calculus or trigonometry but having basic maths skills goes a long way in ensuring that routine calculations for things like measuring currents and volts are read and interpreted correctly. The level of maths required is fairly basic – handling addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with confidence should be sufficient. Generally, this level required is attained with a primary school and high school education up to grade 9, with the SETA, recognised training courses covering any relevant mathematical knowledge required.
Attention to detail
As an electrician, it is imperative to always maintain a detail-orientated approach to ensure the smaller details aren’t overlooked. Attention to detail also comes in handy to follow work according to strict technical standards. Electricity is highly dangerous, and that can’t be taken lightly. The strictest attention to detail needs to be followed to ensure that everyone is safe and not put in harm’s way. Following procedures and electrical safety rules are non-negotiable.
These skills are both inert in a person but are also to some degree teachable. With determination, any would-be electrician can learn these skills and any established electrician can master them to do their job to the best of their ability.