In this article we’ll cover what’s required for the electrical trade, how aspiring female electricians can access support in their early career as well as what kinds of benefits and concerns you might expect from the industry. And, like all trades, how running your own business is an option in the future!
Female Electricians and the Industry
Entering a male-dominated industry in any field can be a difficult choice for a woman. Female electricians comprise about 10% of the industry, and the percentage is even less for other trades.
It can seem like a daunting number and a hard nut to crack. Any woman approaching the trades has a lot to consider, but there are many benefits and future opportunities that make the effort well worth it.
Why the Electrical Trade?
The Australian trade landscape is very unique, being made up of many different industries, sectors and even multi-trade disciplines. But what makes our industry so unique is that it’s always hiring! In fact, ask anyone involved in the trades, and they’ll no doubt tell you one of their favourite things about the job is that the work is steady. Why? Because we NEED tradies everywhere.
The electrical trade is just one of many that potential lady tradies might consider. We even have a sister article on women in plumbing! So why choose electrical work out of all the choices?
Electrical work is more than wiring and fuses! Electrical work requires minds that can handle a challenge, high attention to detail and a desire to improve yourself and your skills continually. It can range from small residential jobs to planning large commercial or industrial installations for all sorts of technology. Female electricians may need to design and analyse blueprints and plan electrical systems, and there’s virtually no limit to where you can take your skillset if you put your mind to it. It requires technical skills, problem-solving skills and hands-on work.
And, of course, the consideration of salary. Electricians are in the top ten of the highest-paid tradies in Australia, and even entry-level positions can net you over 70k a year. Our electrician salary guide goes more in-depth, with very promising numbers should you decide to join the industry.
The field is constantly evolving, offering options for female electricians at all levels of skill and training. Electrical can take a tradie to many different places: if you’re looking for a trade that will challenge you and offer an evolving professional career, becoming a female electrician might be for you!
Apprenticeships and Support
The first step for any aspiring tradie is deciding the trade you want to pursue. As this article is about female electricians, we’ll cover the next steps after starting TAFE or a similar training program.
This is the big step to becoming a female electrician and one that truly kickstarts your future: finding an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are undertaken with qualified supervisors who agree to hire and train on the job. Apprentices also earn a percentage of the award wage during their apprenticeship, which scales with experience and time. For more about apprentice pay, check out our article on apprentice pay and tips for gaining an apprenticeship.
Incentives for Female Electricians
With women representing 50% of the population but female electricians representing just 10% of the trade, governments, organisations and other female electricians are pushing for change and greater representation in the industry.
The National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) is one such organisation. They’ve partnered with the Victorian government to offer mentor training, training support and networks of other female electricians to support your studies and career in the trade.
Many students obtain apprenticeships through networks, pre-apprentice applications and online searches, but thanks to organisations like NECA and Lady Tradies, help is available for female electricians in training. The community sticks together to support each other, and that kind of network is invaluable for future training and professional opportunities.
The electrical field has a unique position in the trades as it needs to keep up with every new innovation and tech gadget released. All trades have new techniques and innovations, but electricians are the ones who need to stay ahead of the curve or risk being left in the dust.
Training for electricians doesn’t stop once an apprenticeship is over, and female electricians can find their interest and niche as they gain employment and experience in the field as a journeyman – or, as we should say, a journeywoman.
Security systems, designing smart homes, installing accessibility aids, solar panels and batteries: there’s all sorts of training you can undertake.
Electricians with years of experience can also undergo master training and register as a Master Electrician, a nationally recognised mark of excellence. Master electricians are recognised as experts and part of a high-quality network of professionals.
Benefits and Concerns to Becoming a Female Electrician
Are Workplaces for Female Electricians Safe?
As women, the concern about how we’re treated in any new environment is on our minds. On top of other worries such as training, pay, and conditions, potential female electricians and tradies must have their safety and treatment from their fellow tradies as a factor in their career decisions.
All workplaces have a duty to all their employees to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. Harassment, sexual or otherwise, falls under OH&S. Everyone has the right to be and feel safe at their job. Harassment may happen, as it can in all workplaces, but supervisors are there to help. Any safety issues and concerns should be reported and acted on. It’s a reality we all need to consider, but there are steps that can be taken to ensure work is safe for you and other female electricians.
Will I Be Able to Handle the Work?
We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Potential female electricians might be concerned that there are certain things that women can’t match up to men on, perhaps ‘natural’ strengths and weaknesses. When people think of trades, naturally, what follows is the thought of long hours, hard conditions, lots of labour and complex work. People sometimes think that can only be ‘men’s work.’
There’s a female-dominated field that pops into mind now: nursing. Nurses lift, move and roll patients of many sizes, carry and assist with equipment, deal with all sorts of hard conditions and stay on their feet for up to 12 hours at a time, all while doing complex work. They’re very different fields with opposite-sex majorities, but ultimately both the trades and nursing have similar needs and demands.
All workplaces can benefit from a variety of strengths and people: more female electricians will benefit everyone. And if you want to become an electrician, you can.
Become a Role Model
Yes, the current rate for female electricians is just 10% and female electrician apprentice rates are low. Still, every new female electrician and apprentice is another person who can inspire others to follow the trade. The power of being present and crushing it in your field shouldn’t be underestimated.
Plenty of people didn’t even know the rules of soccer (football) until The Matildas soared onto the world stage. Seeing someone like you is inspiring. And it doesn’t need to be on TV.
Female electricians inspire others. They’re mentors for new apprentices and proof that anyone can be an electrician if that’s what they want. It’s not the sole reason to choose a career, of course, but knowing you’re making a difference is a wonderful feeling.
Starting Your Own Business
Trades in Australia have a very high rate of business ownership and market share; we have a strong culture of small business, with local tradies becoming part of the community. Plumbers, painters, gardeners, you name it, people in your local area have their own businesses for it.
Electricians have their own niches as well. Female electricians can take their career into their own hands, set up their own small business and go from there.
The market has already recognised a large demand for electricians, with shortages predicted in the future as technology continues to develop and consumer demands grow. Future female electricians will be entering an area of high demand, and any tradesperson with a successful business of their own will tell you that this is the perfect time to get started. If running a small business, being your own boss and building your rep appeals to you, you can get that with the electrical trade.
Are you already on the path to setting up your own business? Check out our electrician business start-up guide for everything you need to hit the ground running.