The actual facility jobs of maintenance electricians depends upon whether they are employed by a large industry, where they probably specialize on particular electrical equipment; or by a small manufacturing plant, commercial business, or public institution. Here they are probably called to do a greater variety of tasks. In either case, maintenance electricians may read blueprints of wiring, make mathematical calculations, and splice, solder, cut, bend, measure, and install wire and conduit. They may repair or replace wiring, fuses, transformers, coils, or switches.
Some of the tools you might see them work with are pliers, wrenches, screwdrivers, knives, drills, and other hand tools for installation and repair work. They also use test lamps, ammeters, volt-ohm meters, and oscilloscopes to test equipment. Because of the importance of electricity to industries, as well as to public and commercial establishments, electricians can save costly expenses by eliminating the breakdown of equipment and by making prompt repairs as problems occur. When a major overhaul or replacement of equipment is necessary they are qualified to do this type of work.
A young person interested in becoming a maintenance electrician needs good health, and particularly good color vision to identify different colored wires. Manual dexterity and good mechanical aptitude are also important. At least a high school education is necessary. Courses such as algebra and trigonometry, physics, electricity, and basic science courses are valuable. Blueprint reading is important as well. Because advances are constantly being made within the field of electrical work, it is also important that the maintenance electrician is keep up by acquiring additional formal training periodically.
A young person desiring work in this field should have a keen sense of caution since there is always the element of danger working with electricity. Because these workers often work alone they should have self-reliance and confidence. They should be inventive and be able to figure out the best way of making an installation.
This type of work is hard while a person is attending school; there is little opportunity for part-time work in this occupation unless one is fortunate enough to know an electrician who needs a helper. If you are going to school it may be possible to find employment during your summer vacation. If you are just starting it is important for you to remember that the experience is worth a lot more than the wages that might be paid. An employer looks favorably upon an applicant who has had time helping an electrician, regardless of the work performed. Other opportunities for exploration may be found in a high-school shop club, on field trips, and by talking with an employed electrician. Others workers who also use a knowledge of electricity and eye-hand coordination include electricians, electrical technicians, electric-sign repairers, electromechanical technicians, and electronics test technicians.
If maintenance electricians are able to take advantage of the apprenticeship program and if they are well qualified for advancement they may advance to become construction electricians or supervisors overseeing maintenance electricians.
The work of maintenance electricians is not considered a routine. They are often called upon to 'troubleshoot' when breakdowns occur in electrical systems or units. They are also called to renovate old systems or create new ones from time to time. They are thus confronted with a variety of problems and new situations. Of course, there are aspects of work that require merely checking or inspecting to see that systems or electrical units will continue to function properly or to maintain safety standards.
There is a little room for error in this occupation from the standpoint of safety, and the expense of having necessary equipment is essential. All well-trained electricians are safety-conscious. This and the increased of protective equipment have reduced accidents considerably in recent years.
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