Electrician | Youth Central

Brendan, 30s

Brendan is the manager of the Melbourne Branch of Gordon McKay Electrical, and he has been working as an electrician for around 10 years.

How did you become an electrician?

His entry into the occupation was quite fortuitous, in that one day his sister needed an electrician, and it so happened that this electrician was after an apprentice, an opportunity Brendan couldn't pass up.

And it sounds like Brendan made a good decision. "As a regulated and licensed trade, we have a monopoly over electrical services, so the wages are a lot better than in other trades. It's also a vast trade to be in - there are plenty of avenues you can head down, such as domestic, commercial or industrial work, or you could go into the mining or shipping industry."

What do you like about the job?

Brendan really enjoys his work, finding it both challenging and rewarding. "Every day is different. You're in a different location, you're constantly faced with new challenges. And it pays very well these days!"

He adds that the role of the electrician is becoming a lot more broad too - there are a lot more things that electricians are expected to do. "The job involves installation and cabling, rewiring, fault finding, and more recently, working with computer equipment and networks. We have much more to do with the IT industry than in the past, and we also do a lot of phone lining since Telstra's deregulation."

What sort of things do you get to do?

Being an electrician is a career that can be as challenging as you want it to be. "You can move into estimating, electrotechnology, even computer programming," says Brendan. "You could become a technician, which involves programming and design work, and the logistics of how it all comes together, which is moving into the area of electronics."

Perhaps it's not surprising then, that you will require good computer skills to work as an electrician.

You must also possess strong diagnostic and problem solving skills, and you will need to understand how things work, and the processes involved.

What makes a good electrician?

"You will need to be very self-motivated, as you will often be working by yourself, plus there's a fair bit of maths involved. Good communication skills will also help you go a long way in this field," says Brendan.

Any downsides?

While Brendan feels that there are not too many downsides to the job, he comments that the hours can be long, and that there are some safety issues. (Although safety risks are less of a problem now that there are better procedures in place.)

Finally, Brendan says that he would encourage more people to get into the field. "There will probably be a shortage of good electricians in the future, and we need smart people in our industry. It's a very rewarding career and there are plenty of opportunities to climb the ladder, plus if you work hard, you can earn a very decent living."

Find out more about this career path at myfuture.edu.au (Note: free registration is required to access the myfuture site).