Electrician Guide

The Ultimate Electrician Guide In Australia

Electrician Guide

In this electrician guide we will cover common definitions, the history, associations for electricians and various sub topics of interest.

What is an Electrician?

An electrician can be defined as a person who installs and maintains electrical systems, communications and lighting control systems. This systems can be in businesses, schools, factories, commercial buildings, homes and in large equipment. In almost every project, the electrician is responsible for getting the electricity from its source and distributing it to the various parts.

The electrician job might sound simple, but it is not. To achieve the status of “electrician”, you must be trained, registered and licensed in your state. Nothing should be left to chance as a single mistake might lead to an accident. It is also illegal to perform most tasks related to electricity.

Electricians are an integral part of the community as they bring light and electricity access. Imagine how life would be without electricity?

History Of The Electrician

The electrician has undergone an intensive journey to reach where he is today. Since the invention of positive and negative charges, to the invention of electricity, electricians have played a major role in revolutionizing the electricity industry. In the late nineteenth century, there was a high demand for electricity for residential as well as industrial use. These led to a sharp increase in demand for electricians to install and maintain.

In the twentieth century, electrical engineering broke into many fields such as electrical engineering, electronic engineering and others. The aim was to produce experts who could handle large scale electrical systems. The diversity of electrical engineering led to different areas of expertise such as maintenance and repair, installation and maintenance among others.

Electricity has undergone several phases before reaching to where it is today. Long before knowledge about electricity existed, people were aware about the numbing shocks delivered by catfish. In 1600, William Gilbert, an English scientist made a careful study of electricity and magnetism and coined in the word ‘electricus’ which later lead to ‘electric’ and ‘electricity’ in English. Later in 1821, Michael Faraday invented the electric motor and George Ohm discovered the electronic current, known as Ohm’s Law..

In 1921, Einstein discovered the Photoelectric effect, a concept applied in solar cells to produce electricity. Other minor but crucial discoveries have contributed to revolutionizing electricity.

Electrician Licensing in Australia

The risks associated with electrical installation are high; it is therefore a requirement by the law of Australia that electrician work must only be restricted to the competent and licensed electricians. To be licensed, you must meet the competency standards. These standards cover electrical work practices, equipment and installation.

By Australia laws, a breach of electrician competency standards leads to a disciplinary process. The affected might be prosecuted in courts, lose their license or have conditions placed on their license. If you are competent, you can obtain your electrician license throughout Australia, in New Zealand and overseas.

Any installation work in Australia must be carried out by a licensed electrical contractor or company who employs licensed electricians. As a holder of an electrician license, it is a requirement that you visibly display the license number on all advertising related to your electrician services.

In Australia, you can be given the following types of electrician licenses;

  • Electrical installing work – these permits the license holders to carry out electrical installation work for up to 5 years.
  • Electrical contracting work – awarded to electrical contractors.
  • Electrical training – awarded to apprentices and employees.

Does an electrician need to be registered?

In order to work as an electrician in Australia, it is mandatory that you meet all licensing requirements and that you are registered. Each state has its own systems for electrical licensing and registration. As an electrician in Australia, you can opt to be registered under Master Electricians, Electrical Trade Union (ETU), National Electrical $ Electrical Contractors.

An electrician license in Australia allows you to carry out electrical installation work without supervision. However, for you to offer to contract, contract or carry out electrical installation work you must be registered as an electrical engineer under the Australian law.

Registering as an electrician is controlled by individual states.

Victoria – In Victoria you can register with Energy Safe Victoria.

New South Wales – In the State of New South Wales, one must be registered as an electrician before  by the Office of Fair Trading offering any electrician related services.

Queensland – The same case applies for the state of Queensland and you can register here.

South Australia – In South Australia, anyone offering electrician services must hold a workers registration. You can register using this link.

Western Australia – In Western Australia, you can register with the Department of Commerce.

Tasmania – In the state of Tasmania, you can register with the department of justice . Just like other States, the government has legislated to regulate electrical installation work.

Electrician Services Overview

Electricians can be classified into inside wiremen or outside linemen. These are the two major areas where you can concentrate as an electricaian professional. Although their duties might vary a little bit, they are almost the same.

Inside wiremen focus on the wiring of buildings and other structures that are being built or being re-structured for a new purpose. This electrician will spend most of the time working indoors. They use blueprints to install new electrical systems in buildings.

Outside linesmen is an electrician who works outdoors for the better parts of their careers. They must be physically fit as they are required to climb poles when a lift bucket is not available. They must endure all weather conditions to solve power outages in home.

In general, electricians;

  • Install, test and maintain wiring, lighting and control systems.
  • Read and interpret blueprints and technical diagrams.
  • Carry out inspection of electrical components such as circuit breakers and transformers.
  • Train and direct other workers how to install, repair and maintain electrical equipment.
  • Identify and rectify electrical problems.
  • Replace, maintain and repair electrical equipment, wiring and electrical accessories.


Residential Electrician

A residential electrician plans the electrical design of a single or multi-family dwelling place. They determine the appropriate placement of lighting fixtures, electrical outlets, air conditioning and ventilation systems. Residential electricians initiate temporary power systems for new construction and advice accordingly on the installation of circuit breaker on residential electrical systems.

Additionally, residential electricians;

  • Handle the installation of electrical systems in newly constructed and/or residential homes.
  • Ensure that municipal codes are complied with
  • Ensure that all wiring-protection measures are adhered to.
  • Read and follow blueprints to ensure that the architects plans are properly
  • Maintain and repair residential electrical systems.

Commercial Electrician

Commercial electricians plan and design electrical systems diagrams including the conduits as required by the local electrical codes. A commercial electrician liaises with the general contractor who gives them blueprints; from the blueprints the electrician designs a viable electrical system of the building in question.

The electrician installs conduits and runs the electrical conduit. They are responsible for wiring instruments that control power, lighting and heating units in buildings. Additionally, they test systems for continuity to ascertain compatibility and safety of the systems. Commercial electricians carry out tests to locate system breaks and repair them.

Emergency Electrician

An emergency electrician is on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are fully trained and qualified like a normal electrician but work after normal business hours.

Emergency electricians repair electrical systems that are faulty, fix power outages and broken lights. Electrical faults could result in fire. In case of power outages, it is the duty of emergency electricians to identify the cause and rectify it as soon as possible.

Another dangerous situation is exposed wires. This can be extremely if water comes into contact with it. If you have any exposed wires it is recommended to call an electrician as soon as possible.

Data Cabling

Data cabling, also known as network cabling is a common in academic and business installations. Many homes with multiple connections also require data cabling to be installed by an electrician. In data cabling, computers and data terminals are connected (networked) together by wires (cables) so that they can communicate with each other. This allows the data input can be collected and analyzed centrally.

Data cabling brings harmony in institutions by gathering information from all data inlets and processing it harmoniously. For instance, all individual computers in a university are linked to a network so that they can all use a single set of programs. In business set-ups, data cabling enhances your network capabilities and helps operation at faster speeds and higher efficiency.

In data cabling, an electrician advises you on;

  • Where to install your phone sockets
  • What type of communications cabling that you require
  • Design and installation of monitored security or fire alarm system.
  • Design and installation of additional lines that carry new phone numbers
  • Installation of data cabling required connecting computer networks to the homes telecommunications network.

Home Automation

Home automation connects devices and appliances in a home via a network. This can then be controlled centrally via remote control or mobile device. Home automation may include automatic operation of water sprinkling, lighting, switching food preparation appliances, controlling security system, carrying out heating and air conditioning. Home automation is becoming a popular installation request of an electrician by a property owner.

Home automation can also be extended to fax machines, answering machines, automatic vacuum cleaning among others. The electrician ensures that the low voltage electrical components being integrated in the new/already existing electrical systems are installed correctly. A home automation electrician ensures that all the systems are installed in accordance to all safety measures.


Lighting, popularly known as illumination is the use of light to achieve aesthetic effects as seen in concert halls and clubs. Lighting is also used to provide light in buildings to enable people living there to carry out their tasks normally. Light is a form of electromagnetic energy that is transmitted in form of waves. The spectrum is made up of different colors that make up the visible light.

In lighting, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) are becoming popular due to their ability to easily produce different types of colors which enhances their aesthetic value. LEDs are made up of a p-n junction diode (semiconductor) which emits light when activated. The color emitted by the diode is determined by the energy band gap of the semiconductor. In this case the electrician can install a completely new set of LED lights to replace your old system.

Power points

These are devices that enable electrically operated equipment by allowing their connection to the power supply (alternating current) in the building. Power points need to be fitted in accessible and safe locations that are away from heat sources, stoves, shower roses, spouts and water. They should be high enough to ensure that children do not play with them but accessible to people with disabilities.

The recommended height should be in line with the door handles approximately between 900mm and 1100mm above the floor level. It is a legal requirements to have a licensed electrician install power points in your home or commercial property.

How can an electrician help you?

Do not risk doing the electrical work on your own; it is both illegal and dangerous. Power points should only be installed by an electrician who is duly qualified. The services of an electrician come in handy when replacing single power points with the double power points especially while renovating the houses. An electrician can also new install light fittings and replace old wiring, commonly known as “re-wiring”.

Surge protection boxes can also be upgraded by an electrician.

Are you interested in saving money on your electricity bills? Ask your electrician about the benefits of LED lighting and get a quote to have your lights replaced. This is a great investment which will cut down your electricity consumption.

Switch boards

Electric switchboards are devices that direct the electricity from the supply to other several smaller regions for usage.it is an assembly of panels, which contain switches which allow redirection of electricity. Switchboards route the electricity around the building. They contain numerous elements such as contact breakers, fuses and safety switches. These safety features have been designed to enhance protection of the occupants of the building from potential electrocution as well as isolation of the faulty wiring and appliances. Switchboards can only be installed by a trained electrician with experienced in wiring and electrical circuits.

How/ why the electrician can help

Electricians are the only personnel authorized by law to install or work on any electrical equipment, and they must be consulted for the installation, replacement or repairing of the switchboard. The following tasks should only be carried out by an accredited electrician. The electrician will upgrade, repair or install a new switchboard which prevents overloading.

The electrical switchboard needs an upgrade in the case of modern houses which tend to have more appliances which if plugged in the old switchboards can potentially lead to fire hazards due to overloading. Renovations in the kitchen and the entertainment room normally add extra stress in the electrical switchboard. Newer appliances and the electrical equipment draw more power that will add to the demand of the fuse box. The electrician will install large and complex switch board upgrades that will be in line with the electrical design and plan that suits your house.

Solar power

Solar power is the term that describes the conversion of the sunlight energy into electricity by either directly using the photo-voltaics or indirectly using the concentrated solar power .solar power is both a clean and renewable source of energy and has been increasingly become popular in the domestic applications, generation of power and heating of water.

One of the major roles of the electrician is the design and planning of the solar project. The solar electrician review the structure in which the project will be conducted, the electrical system and the development of the site-specific safety precautions.

Once the installation begins, they will set the essential safety equipment like the anchor and harness system. The electrician is very pivotal when it comes to upgrading materials, replacement of rafters and the introduction of backing to handle the weight of modules. Extra caution is needed since the modules are costly and delicate.

Home renovations

This is the process of making additions or renovations to one’s home. Many homes which can be considered as the older types have old electrical wiring which calls for replacement. In the case of renovating a new house where you need to change the lighting from the current lighting systems.

Whenever you undertake your home renovation, it is prudent to seek the services of a qualified electrician since they deliver the highest quality of electrical integrity, safety and energy advice. They will replace the broken electric fixtures such as the flush mounts, pot lights and sconces. They will replace the worn out knobs and tubes as well as install the recessed delights. Other electrical services offered includes the wiring of newly renovated areas and rooms, installing the security, alarms and CCTV, lighting audits, home theatre and the multi-room audio, air conditioning, ventilation systems and heat pumps. The expert electricians are very instrumental in the implementation of the electrical renovations within the stipulated time schedules and budgets.

Electrical Installations, Repairs, Maintenance

Electrical repair and maintenance involves repairing the faulty electronic parts and electrical systems an electrician has the expertise to determine the wiring requirements of a particular business or house.

Electrical work becomes overly dangerous especially when the prior job was done by an amateur electrician. Quality electrical work is guaranteed when undertaken by a trained and experienced electrician. Countless house fires are caused by at home electrician using poor techniques of wiring, faulty extension cords and substandard materials. Small mistakes can lead to quick and extremely severe consequences. Poor wiring techniques can potentially cause devastating hazards that are only evident until the accident occurs.

Dangers of the DIY Electrical Work

Carrying electrical work in the house or in the workplace is highly tempting and many people believe they have the necessary expertise to undertake the work. However this work should be strictly left in the hands of a qualified and professional electrician. Most work is illegal to do yourself and requires a professional electrician to carry out the work. The dangers and risks of DIY work are serious.

Dangers include the use of cables and wires of incorrect sizes. Incorrect sized wires leads to overheating, shorting of the circuit breakers or fuses. It is therefore imperative to use a wire and devices that are rated and have the proper amperage.

Faults in the connections of the electrical boxes are a major risk. It is dangerous to make connections outside the electrical box since this leads short-circuiting and overheating. Outlets being overloaded also pose a great risk. As an un-qualified electrician, it is very easy to commit a mistake by overloading the power board or the outlet. When the bulbs used have a greater wattage than it is intended, there is a very high risk of overheating. The bulb may break or in worse cases catch alight. Electricity simply is too far dangerous and harmful to risk undertaking the DIY electrician jobs.

Electrocutions in Australia

Although the Regulations and safety campaigns have been implemented to minimize electrocution deaths in Australia, electrocutions are common. Between the 1st July 2000 and 31st and 31st October 2011, there were 321 reported electrocution deaths.

It is estimated that an average of 20 people die every year due to unintentional electrocution. Major findings discovered that;

  • The highest electrocution cases occurred to people within the 30-39 age brackets.
  • A huge percentage (96%) involved males.
  • Western Australia has the highest electrocution cases.
  • 45-50% of the electrocutions happened at the workplace.

Learn more from ERAC.

Electrician Associations In Australia

Most electrician associations are recognised by the community and the government. They are aimed at providing the electrician industry with the representation and development across Australia where they support their members by enhancing their capacity to deliver first-rate advise, services and expertise. Their mission is to champion the safety, trust, excellence and confidence that is needed among electrical contractors. One of the most widely known electrician organisation in Australia is the Masters Electricians which have been representing contractors for over seven decades making it one of the longest industry of association of its kind.

How to Become an Electrician

To become a duly qualified electrician in Australia you have to complete an apprenticeship course and the get a Certificate III in the Electrotechnology Electrician. New immigrants those who possess the OTSR indicate that they have the required technical skills and can apply for the restricted workers registration where they work under direct supervision. For the ones without the OTSR, it becomes necessary to obtain the ARTC, Australian recognized trade certificate, from the trade recognition Australia that will enable the application for the restricted electrical workers registration. Electricians can operate in self-employment or be a contractor. When one opts to operate as a partnership or as an individual electrician, you need to obtain an electrical contractors license after meeting all the requirements of licensing. The benefits that accrue from trade recognition include: one becomes qualified to train apprentices, get recognition for undertaking further study, obtain license to work without supervision as an electrician.

Call To Action

Let’s face it; life would be boring without electricity. While invention of electricity is one of the best things to happen to humanity, it is dangerous and can cause death. This is why it is imperative to only hire a licensed electrician for any project that requires electrical installation.

This was published Jeremy Highland from Pro Electrician Melbourne. Pro Electrician is a local electrical contractor based in Victoria, Australia. Feel free to ask any questions.