Electricians are more in demand as the construction and manufacturing industries heat up. Employment is expected to grow 9% this decade, with about 847,000 new jobs projected from 2020 to 2030, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With electricity essential to modern life, almost every house and building has an electrical system to power the lights, communications, climate controls and electronic appliances that enhance people’s lives and comfort. Electricians play the vital role of keeping these systems in operation.
If you’re wondering how to become an electrician, this overview helps answer the following questions:
What does an electrician do?
Electricians are essential workers. They are in charge of installing and maintaining all of the electrical power systems in homes, businesses and factories. They adhere to all state and local building regulations based on the National Electrical Code (NEC).
For example, electricians may be required to fix or replace light fixtures, control systems, and other electrical equipment using hand and power tools. Common tools include conduit benders, screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills and saws.
They also use various testing devices to identify electrical problems and inspect electrical components like circuit breakers. Electricians may also need to use ammeters, voltmeters, thermal scanners and cable testers to troubleshoot and fix problems.
Learning how to read blueprints is also part of becoming an electrician. This includes analyzing technical diagrams of electrical systems and being able to find circuits, outlets and other equipment.
Although many electricians work alone, some collaborate with others. Experienced electricians, for instance, may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems for new buildings. Some electricians may also collaborate with elevator installers or heating and air conditioning workers to help install or maintain electrical and power systems. Those that work for large companies tend to work as part of a crew.
How long does it take to become an electrician?
It typically takes at least four to five years to become an electrician licensed by the state where they work. Most of this time is spent learning the trade through an apprenticeship program. Apprentices usually work 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training per year and receive some technical instruction as well.
However, there is an alternative path to becoming an electrician. Those with military electrical experience or who are in the construction industry may qualify for a shortened apprenticeship. Keep in mind that this is based on experience and meeting test requirements.
What are the requirements for becoming an electrician?
There are certain requirements to becoming an electrician. Most states require electricians to pass a test and be licensed. Requirements vary by state, many of which can be found on the National Electrical Contractors Association website.
For example, you’ll need to have earned a high school diploma or equivalent and be at least 20 years old. In addition, some choose to attend a technical school to study circuitry, safety practices and basic electrical information. Technical school graduates usually receive credit toward their apprenticeship.
All prospective electricians, however, must complete an apprenticeship program. Apprenticeship requirements vary by state and district, but they typically include studying blue prints, mathematics, electrical code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices.
Some apprenticeships also include specialized training in soldering, communications, fire alarm systems and elevators. Many union and contractor associations sponsor apprenticeship programs.
Those who complete an apprenticeship program are considered to be journey workers and can start practicing their craft. Keep in mind that electricians may also be required to take additional educational courses to keep their licenses active. These courses usually revolve around updated safety practices, changes to the electrical code, and manufacturer’s training in specific products.
Lastly, electricians may also be required to have a current driver’s license.
Do electricians make good money?
The median annual wage nationwide for an electrician was $56,900, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Electricians in the lowest 10% earned less than $33,810 while those in the highest earned over $98,720.
Apprentices get paid less than fully trained electricians. Keep in mind that the average pay increases with more skills and experience.
If you’re an electrician, Grus Construction Personnel offers an extensive selection of positions to choose from. We provide higher pay and more benefits for our electrician personnel, with wages ranging from $21 to $57 per hour.
Browse our list of electrician job openings to learn more.
Is becoming an electrician a good career choice?
Becoming an electrician can be an excellent career choice. Electricians have many job opportunities following the completion of an apprenticeship program. They may advance to become master electricians, supervisors or project managers. The bump in title usually equates to higher pay.
Along with higher pay, electricians can take pride in helping their communities. Without them, we’d live in a very dark, uncomfortable society. Electricians also have active, physical jobs, unlike office workers who typically sit at a desk every day. Electricians often travel to different work sites to work on new projects and experience new environments.
Is becoming an electrician hard?
Becoming an electrician is no easy task. Electricians spend years studying, completing a four- to five-year apprenticeship program, documenting their work experience and passing a state examination in order to become licensed.
In addition, working with electricity requires electricians to take precautions to prevent injury. Common injuries include electrical shocks, falls and burns. All workers must wear protective clothing and safety glasses. Some may even have to wear hearing protection if working in loud factories.
We’ve put together a list of important qualities electricians should have:
- Color vision: Electricians must accurately identify electrical wires by color.
- Critical thinking: Electricians are expected to conduct tests and diagnose problems.
- Customer service: Electricians work with people every day. They should be able to articulate problems and address any questions customers may have.
- Physical stamina: Electricians are constantly on the go installing and maintaining electrical and power systems.
- Physical strength: Electricians may move heavy electrical components, with some weighing as much as 50 pounds.
- Troubleshooting skills: Electricians are expected to find, diagnose and repair electrical problems.
Now that you understand more about how to become an electrician, we invite you to keep us in mind for your future employment needs.