Getting Started in Electricity: Jobseekers

If you’re looking for a career with a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment; with work readily available; with job security, good wages, and the potential for innovation—consider the electricity and renewables sector.

What careers are there in the electricity sector?

There are careers available in the electricity sector for you, regardless of your background experience. According to EHRC’s latest Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) report, employment in the sector is anticipated to grow from 2017 overall by 2% by 2022 and will need to recruit over 20,500 new employees in that time. Any one of those positions could be yours to fill.

Engineering & Technology

The global energy sector is transitioning away from fossil fuels and is developing new and innovative sources of power. You could be helping northern communities transition away from oil and gas energy, installing a microgrid for remote off-grid communities, or designing renewable technology solutions for a local utility company: no matter where you are Canada, there is rewarding, long-term work for engineers, technologists, and technicians in the electricity sector.

Engineering careers include:

  • electrical engineer,
  • electronics engineer,
  • civil engineer, and nearly every other field of engineering.

Technological careers include:

  • electrical technologist or technician,
  • electronics technologist or technician,
  • mechanical engineering technologist or technician,
  • civil engineering technologist or technician,
  • radiation technician, and more.

Those with engineering or technology experience but wanting a different practice may also consider a career as an engineering inspector or regulatory officer.

Trades

The electricity sector employs thousands in the trades, providing many options if you come from an apprenticeship background. The demand for construction electricians alone is expected to increase by 4% nation-wide in the coming years. High demand means many job openings for high-paying, long-term positions; plus, electricity is a product used nation-wide, which means there are work opportunities everywhere across Canada.

Options for tradespeople include:

  • powerline technician,
  • power cable technician,
  • power system operator,
  • utility arborist,
  • millwright,
  • welder,
  • industrial mechanic,
  • industrial electrician,
  • power system electrician,
  • construction electrician

If you are interested in a career on the edge of innovation, the demand for solar panel installers and other renewable energy jobs are also on the rise.

Business

If you are someone with a business background who has spent some time hopping between sectors, but are looking to settle down in a stable and rewarding career: then the electricity sector may be right for you. This is a growing sector, both in terms of its workforce and in its innovation: there are jobs and there are opportunities to get value for your experience.

Any organization, including utilities, need business professionals in careers like human resources, communications, administration, finance, accounting, and customer service. Additionally, electricity companies need engineering managers and construction managers, on top of all the usual administrators all businesses require to operate effectively.

Information & Communication

The electricity sector is an innovative one, on the cutting edge of new technologies, such as microgrids and smart grids, and is always looking to improve. If you’ve worked with computers your previous jobs or com from a programming background, there are excellent career paths for you in the electricity sector. These include:

  • cybersecurity specialist,
  • information systems analyst or consultant,
  • database analyst or administrator,
  • computer programmer,
  • interactive media developer,
  • software engineer or designer,
  • computer network technician.

Why pursue a career in electricity?

The electricity sector provides you the opportunity to help people and the environment, while also offering excellent compensation.

Responsibility

Electricity is essential to the daily lives of all Canadians and people around the world; without it, there’d be no lights, no computers, no household appliances, no temperature control, etc. Working in the electricity sector, there is never any doubt that what you’re doing is important. This is especially true when it comes to renewable energy: the application of non-emitting energy sources (biomass, hydro, nuclear, solar, wind, et al.) and clean energy technology is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. If you are serious about environmental stewardship, the electricity sector is where you can make a real difference. This is in part because it is an innovative sector: inventions like microgrids, smart grids, organic photovoltaics, and advanced computer forecasting are transforming the industry, and pioneering minds can find a place at the forefront of this innovation.

Excellent Compensation

On top of the public benefit, the electricity sector is a rewarding place for individuals. It is a growing industry, with 20,500 new hires anticipated from 2017-2022, and that growth is steady. Since energy is a necessity, there are few layoffs in the electricity sector and your skills will always be in-demand. Plus, you will be well compensated for your work: according to calculations made from Statistics Canada’s “Job Bank,” the average wage for electricity sector occupations is approximately $39 per hour, with an average low of $21 per hour and an average high of $59 per hour. There are few industries that can promise stable, rewarding, full-time work at roughly $80,000 a year on average.

How to get started?

If you’d like to explore career opportunities, then you may be asking what you can do to ease your transition into the sector. There are programs and events which you can participate in to prepare you with the skills and information you need to succeed in the job market. These include competency frameworks, mentorship programs, wage subsidy programs, and organizational events.

Competency Frameworks

Competency frameworks contain competencies (skills and knowledge) required by numerous occupations across the electricity and renewable sector. Electricity Human Resources Canada’s (EHRC) National Occupation Standards (NOS) project provides insight into what skills and knowledge are required for specific jobs; this means you can assess your own current skills and career goals against the NOS to identify areas for personal development and career growth. In addition, competency frameworks illustrate what competencies are shared between occupations, therefore are transferable across sectors.

Mentorship Programs

Mentorship provides insider knowledge and useful career tips from industry professionals. Mentors will not offer you a job, but they can help with the job application process and may be willing to act as a reference. Women who are already in the electricity sector and are looking for support to navigate their careers are eligible to apply for EHRC’s Connected Women mentorship program.

Wage Subsidy Programs

Wage subsidy programs create work opportunities, especially within small businesses, that might otherwise be unavailable. EHRC’s Green Jobs program is subsidizing placements for unemployed and underemployed youth in the green energy and technology subsector. If you are considering entering this innovative subsector than this is a program you should make your future employer aware of.

Organizational Events

Organizational events, such as hiring calls or job fairs, are opportunities to familiarize yourself with what options are available in the sector, and the expectations employers have for potential hires. You can find these on company websites and social media. For news on events EHRC is attending, sign up to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.