Across the country, from coast to coast, electrical contracting has become quite the thriving industry. With more than 70,000 electrical contracting firms nationwide, and 650,000 electrical workers ensuring that our country is powered up and ready to do daily life. At a valuation of more than $130 billion annually, the industry is growing and doesn’t look like it will be settling anytime soon. With a growing population, city expansions, industrial and residential structures constantly being built, unlike some businesses, the electrical industry is not one that’s facing a slowdown.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Electrician jobs are expected to increase by 8% over the next several years through 2029 (that’s about 62,200 jobs!). In case you need some perspective on that number, it’s much faster than the national average. And this means that as an electrician, your skills will be in high demand!
Qualified, skilled electricians are needed more than ever to fill the jobs. Despite the fact that 7,000 electricians enter the industry annually, 10,000 are retiring. As you can see, that leaves a gap that remains to be filled--and a critical shortage of electricians in America, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and the National Electrical Contractors Association. But it’s not just the retirees that are leaving open jobs behind. Not only are students less prepared or skilled in this area due to disappearing high school shop classes, but they also are taught to value college as the ultimo.
Yet even as the job field opens to welcome in new electricians, skilled individuals are still running short. We hope that this article will open your mind to the exciting possibilities and career of life as an electrician.
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What can you earn if you become an electrician?
Electricians can earn a good salary. The median salary is $56,180 annually (or $27.01 per hour). Rising salaries for electricians seem to correlate to the fact that the job market is competitive. Electricians have options, due to a shortage of electricians to fill open jobs. And that’s great news for you and anyone else thinking of joining the industry over the next decade.
What do Electricians do?
One of the great things about being an electrician is the flexibility to work on your own, develop your own team as an electrician contractor / businessperson, or join a large or small electrical firm to be part of a team. No matter which you choose, you’ll be able to utilize a variety of skills and knowledge to get the job done right. As an electrician, you have the power to decide how to structure your career, whether you are an entrepreneur who wants to strike out and start a electrical contracting firm on your own, be a team player, or just go it solo. You decide so you can do what you love!
So what exactly do electricians do?
Electricians are responsible for setting up, maintaining and repairing all things electrical. This includes the power grid, communication systems, and lights and other electrical controls. Being an electrician isn’t easy; it takes attention to detail and a high-degree of knowledge and ability to work assess and analyze a problem, and figure out how to repair it--all while keeping safety as a top priority. They are highly trained tradesmen who know that they will often be working in dangerous situations, so having the skills and knowledge to handle such situations wisely and safely is critical.
Important qualities you need to become an electrician
Electricians don’t need a college degree. But they do need to complete an apprenticeship, which is supervised hands-on, on-the-job training under a master electrician.
However, having a certain set of skills will not only help you along--in many cases, such as color vision, it’s critical for your and others’ safety.
The BLS indicates the following skills as important for anyone considering becoming an electrician.
- “Color vision. Electricians must identify electrical wires by color.
- Critical-thinking skills. Electricians perform tests and use the results to diagnose problems. For example, when an outlet is not working, they may use a multimeter to check the voltage, amperage, or resistance in order to determine the best course of action.
- Customer-service skills. Electricians work with people on a regular basis. They should be friendly and be able to address customers’ questions.
- Physical stamina. Electricians often need to move around all day while running wire and connecting fixtures to the wire.
- Physical strength. Electricians need to be strong enough to move heavy components, which may weigh up to 50 pounds.
- Troubleshooting skills. Electricians find, diagnose, and repair problems. For example, if a motor stops working, they perform tests to determine the cause of its failure and then, depending on the results, fix or replace the motor.”
Should you become an electrician?
If you love working with your hands and want to join a savvy group of folks who know how to get things done, you might consider becoming an electrician.
Being an electrician isn’t a quick way to a well-paying job. It requires motivation, dedication, along with the qualities listed above. Some of the qualities are critical to help ensure your and the team’s safety as you work on wiring projects,etc.
Types of electricians
Apprentice: An apprentice electrician is someone who is gaining hands-on training under the supervision of a master electrician. They gain education and skills to rise to a journeyman.
Journeyman: a Journeyman performs typical electrician tasks, but is generally not qualified to work solo or supervise himself. They work under the guidance and direction of masters electricians
Master: a Master Electrician is qualified to supervise apprentice and journeymen as they work and gain skills in the field. These high-level tradesmen read blueprints, create plans, oversee and train others, and manage the big picture.
How do you actually become an electrician?
While you don’t need to attend college or university to become an electrician, there are a number of steps you must take to not only gain the education you need, but to become qualified and certified to start living your dream. At minimum, you should be starting with your high school diploma.
Education and licensing requirements to become an electrician
Becoming an electrician typically requires a high school diploma, along with technical training that includes gaining basic electrical knowledge and safety skills, and the study of circuits. They must take and pass a licensing exam, which must be maintained by ongoing knowledge of new safety requirements. While state and local requirements might vary across the nation, the general process of becoming a licensed electrician can take 4-5 years. The journey toward licensed electrician consists of about 500 hours of instruction, along with 8,000 hours of hands-on training in an apprenticeship.
To become a master electrician, most state and municipal licensing authorities have minimum requirements that one must meet before becoming an electrician. Information on individual stats and projections can be found here. But you can expect to complete 4,000 hours (or two years) of work as a journeyman before qualifying to become a master electrician.
How do you know if you should be an electrician?
Consider the questions below, and note your responses.
- So how do you know if you should become an electrician? Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
- Does working with your hands make you happy? Becoming an electrician might just be for you.
- Does working in front a computer or at a desk all day make you cringe, yawn or just fall asleep? Then a trade job as an electrician might be for you.
- Do you want to work as a tradesman (or woman)? Electrician is a notable and well-paying trade!
- Do you have the required qualifications to become an electrician?
- Does working hard and giving a project your best make you happy?
- Are you able to be guided and take instruction?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, becoming an electrician could be the path for you. You can find additional resources on electricians at the site of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
As you continue on your journey to become an electrician, or even if you’re just exploring, careerbliss.com. While you’re there, check out company reviews by real current and former employees and research salaries to determine your earning potential!
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The CareerBliss Team
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