Electrician Careers

How wired are you? Did you charge your smartphone last night? Did you plug in the coffee pot to make your morning cup of joe? Did you turn on the lights in your office? Did you crank up the heat in your home?

All of these things require electricity. It’s something we take for granted, but without electricity our lives would be very different. Try to imagine life without phones, Internet, radios, lights, appliances, computers, or other items that require electricity. Could you go a day without electricity? It might be challenging.

Electricians are the reason that we have reliable access to electricity in our lives. Electricians are licensed professionals who install and maintain electrical power in buildings, factories, vehicles, and other facilities. Electricity is needed to run communication systems, lighting systems, smoke detectors, elevators, fire alarms, stereo systems, appliances, and temperature control units. Can you spot an electrician’s handiwork near you right now? If there’s an outlet, a switch, or a light fixture, an electrician was there.

All aspiring electricians must complete a 4 to 5 year-long apprenticeship to become an electrician. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an electrician apprenticeship requires, “at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training.” Every electrician has a high school degree and some even attend technical school.

During the apprenticeship, aspiring electricians learn from hands-on experience under the supervision of a master electrician. They learn about electricity, circuits, fuses, voltage, watts, generators, transistors, joules, grounds, AC/DC currents, amps, kilowatts, live wires, transformers, and so much more. By working with experienced electricians, they know about wiring, building codes, connectivity testing, differences between commercial and residential electrical systems, tools, on-the-job safety, and other critical components of the job. An apprenticeship lasts several years, but the learning never stops.

After completing the apprenticeship, they become a journeyman electrician and ultimately a master electrician. To become a master electrician, you must pass a state certified exam conducted by the electrical licensing board. It’s a stringent process, which is important because every job must follow strict building codes and be inspected by an electrical inspector or home inspector to ensure it is safe and appropriate.

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Once licensed in the state, electricians can find work with electrical companies, established electricians, or start their own business. One special type of electrician called a gaffer works on movie sets. There is always demand for electricians to work on remodels, factories, and new construction projects. Emergencies and maintenance calls mean electricians will often work around the clock to keep the world plugged in.

Electricians must be able to read detailed blueprints, identify electrical problems, run appropriate tests, and maintain a high level of safety. They may work in cramped or tight quarters to get the job done. Electricians work both inside and outside in potentially dangerous construction zones. They are subject to shocks, burns, cuts, falls, and even death while on the job.

According to the BLS, there were 583,500 electrician jobs in 2012. This number is expected to grow by 20% by 2022 creating over 100,000 new electrician jobs in the near future. What a huge opportunity! Electricians make a respectable salary that ranges between $30,000 and $80,000 per year. On average, electricians make $23.96 per hour or $49,840 per year.

Being an electrician is not a bad career, especially when you aren’t stuck behind a desk. If you’re looking for an in-demand profession, consider becoming an electrician.

Quick Facts About Electricians

Job Title: Electrician
Office: Construction zones
Description: Install and maintain electrical systems in buildings
Certifications/Education: Multi-year apprenticeship, State exams
Necessary Skills: Safety conscious, Attention to detail
Potential Employers: Electrical companies, Self-employed
Pay: $23.96 per hour or $49,840 per year

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