When thinking about learning a Trade, it’s pretty obvious that in today's world, trained electricians are in super high demand, they get paid well, work in cool places on cool things and they can take their skills to pretty much any country in the world.
But it's not all skittles and beer. Becoming a successful electrician takes time and requires a broad range of skills. So what can you learn from those who have already been there?
Here’s our take on the 9 things every good electrician knows;
1. The customer is always right but never trust the customer
When it comes to customers and electricity it's a must to listen to the customer but don't treat their word as gospel (especially if they are another electrician).
While their perception is their reality it's important that you follow your own processes and proceed without blinkers. In the long run this will save you time and money and quite possibly save you from getting zapped on occasion.
2. The smoke test is not a good workmanship test
If you are relying on the smoke test to determine the quality of your work then chances are things aren't going to go your way one day.
Learning how to do things safely, properly, quickly and efficiently will eventually separate the good from the bad.
The best electricians will confirm that good processes, such as H&S, aren't a nuisance, they are actually what separates the good from the bad.
3. You can get paid well but it's the overheads that make the difference.
Your hourly charge out rate might look great (see this article on which Tradies are charging the most) on the surface but playing close attention to your overheads is what really makes the difference.
Simple things like making sure you recover all your materials costs, creating minimum call out charges and recovering industry standard margins on materials will make a massive difference to your bottom line.
On top of this, making sure invoice customers on a regular and consistent basis will drastically improve your cashflow. A job management system like Tradify will help you track overheads, recover costs and invoice on time (check us out here).
4. The Learning never really stops
After the apprenticeship, there is the journeyman, then the master electrician's course, plus numerous other safety and development related courses.
Then there are things like changes in the electrical standards or changes in technology (read this post on the AS3000 standards review).
If you want to stay on top of your game you’ll need to stay on top of the learning as well as key trends such as renewable energy and home automation.
5. Your communication skills will be more important than maths or physics skills
While you’ll need reasonable maths and physics skills to become a certified electrician, starting and building a successful electrical contracting company will require great writing and communications skills.
If you want to have any chance of running a successful business then aside from your electrical skills you’ll need to be able to manage people, balance the books, communicate with customers, suppliers and subcontractors and do things like create work schedules or conduct various administrative tasks.
If you’d rather rewire a house blindfolded with one arm behind your back than think about cash flow, scheduling or job management then I’d suggest finding a business partner or a boss.
6. You’ll become a master problem solver
A fundamental part of an electrician’s job is preparing or diagnosing electrical problems. Usually, the cause of the problem may not be readily apparent.
Learning how to quickly and efficiently troubleshoot then problem solve is half the battle. The other half is knowing which diagnostic tool to use at the right time.
Becoming a master problem solver will save you time and money and help you win and retain customers.
7. Its takes 5 things to run a successful electrical business
If you think you have what it takes to run your own electrical business then there are 5 things you need.
- Patience - whether it's the customer, the apprentice or the subcontractor driving you up the wall, patience is a virtue you’ll need in spades!
- Communication skills - related to the above skill but on a single job you’ll deal with staff, suppliers, contractors. Time is money and poor communication wastes time. Learn to communicate well or put tools and processes in place to help (Tradify can help with that!).
- Licenses/Certification - for your own sake and for your customers sake, Certification is a must. Certification will provide you with access to resources and services you might not otherwise have as well as things like insurance, guarantees and proof to the customer that you're serious about your business.
- Insurance - a given (and required by law in most places).
- Fitness - one of the trade offs from not working at a desk is that you actually need to be capable or moving round the job site effectively. Run, fish or play golf, but do something to keep yourself in reasonable shape.
- Accountant/Bookkeeper - get serious professional help as it will pay for itself 10 times over.
- A Client Base - build up a solid base of customers and continue to nurture those relationships as winning new business from new customers can be time consuming and expensive - best have it come to you.
8. The best piece of equipment you own is your eyes
This one is kinda related to the trouble shooting point but in many cases, despite all the tools in the world, the most effective tools are your eyes.
When it comes to troubleshooting, health and safety, staff management, and attention to detail most issues can be located by paying attention, looking at everything and knowing what the issues are. No tool does this better than your eyes!
9. Electricians are the smartest Tradies
We’ve buried this one down the bottom so we don't get in trouble with our other Tradie customers!
While learning any new trade based skill take a considerable amount of brainpower Electricians normally have the edge as far as brainpower goes given the need to have a pretty good grasp of maths and physics to get the hang of things.
On top of that Electricians now, more than any other trade, have the opportunity to specialise across a range of fields including renewable tech, electronics, marine, aeronautical, and automotive just to name a few.
Success in these fields takes plenty of brainpower, lots of additional training and a thirst for learning.