Getting Started in Electricity: Students

If you’re looking for a career with a positive impact on people’s lives and the environment; with work available immediately after graduation; with job security, good wages, and the potential for innovation—then 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 degree program. According to Electricity Human Resources Canada’s (EHRC) 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. Anyone of those positions could be your dream job!

Engineering & Technology

The global energy sector is transitioning away from fossil fuels and is developing new and innovative sources of power. With a background in engineering or technology, you could find yourself building a nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) in the arctic for a northern community, or constructing a microgrid for a remote off-grid community in the Canadian Rockies, or designing the artificial intelligence (AI) behind a new provincial smart grid system. Save the earth, give power back to the people, or bring about the AI revolution—no matter your passion, the electricity sector is the place to pursue big ideas.

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 are currently in or considering an apprenticeship. You could be blasting through mountains to lay down powerlines carrying thousands of volts of power, or overseeing the operation of a nuclear power plant generating the power of the atom, or harnessing the power of the sun into a person’s home.

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

The demand for the later is expected to increase by 4% in the coming years.

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

Business

You may be someone going into business with the dream of changing the world. Or you may be looking to make some dough; the electricity sector has paths for both. You could be a leader in a start-up pushing for renewable energy research and development, racing against the climate crisis. Or you could be a leader in a major utility corporation, providing a service everybody needs. These things also aren’t mutually exclusive: many major utilities in Canada are also investing in renewable energy development, so you don’t necessarily have to choose.

It might not be the first job you think of in electricity, but any organization needs business professionals in careers like human resources, communications, administration, finance, accounting, and customer service. Additionally, companies need engineering managers and construction managers, on top of all the usual administrators any business requires to operate.

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 are currently enrolled in computer science courses or studying programming, 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.

How to get started?

If you’d like to explore career opportunities in the electricity sector, then you may be asking what you can do to work towards securing your first job. There are programs and events which you can participate in now which will prepare you with the skills and information you need for the job market. These include work-integrated learning (WIL) programs, mentorship programs, wage subsidy programs, and organizational events.

Work-Integrated Learning

Work-integrated learning (WIL) includes co-op placements, internships, and field placements, amongst a variety of opportunities. WIL programs offer the chance to ‘earn while you learn.’ Participants get the chance to practice the skills they learned in the classroom, develop workplace professional skills, and make connections with employers in the sector. To help create more WIL opportunities for students, EHRC runs the Empowering Futures program, which subsidizes companies creating WIL placements.

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 studying in an electricity related field or apprenticeship program 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 new grads in the green energy and technology subsector. If you are considering entering this innovative subsector after graduation, 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.