Working As An Electrician
Electricians perform important services that keep our homes and workplaces up and running, such as installing and repairing electrical systems and devices. The work of an electrician is very technical and requires knowledge of electrical systems and training in maintenance practices. If you have an interest in mechanics, you may enjoy working as an electrician.
The Path to Becoming a Licensed Electrician
One of the benefits of becoming an electrician is that it does not require a college degree. However, you do need a high school diploma or GED. It helps to take courses in basic math and science, as these concepts will come into play later in your career. After graduating from high school, there are a few paths you can take to become a licensed electrician. The first is to join an apprenticeship program for electricians. These are sponsored by electrician’s unions and associations, such as the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. They take three to four years to complete and start off with classroom work before progressing to practical, on-the-job training with a licensed electrician. Alternatively, you can attend a trade school with courses for electricians and then look for a practical apprenticeship afterward to develop your skills.
After working closely with a supervisory electrician for several years, you are now ready to apply for your license. Electrician’s licenses and their requirements vary by state. Typically, you will take an examination covering local building codes and electrical codes as well as critical electrical concepts. Some states also require a certain amount of verified training hours as well. Once you have obtained your license, you will then legally be able to practice as an electrician in your state.
Life as a Licensed Electrician
If you choose to become a licensed electrician, you can expect a demanding but steady workload and a stable salary. Electricians earn about $22 per hour, although that rate varies by experience level. The job outlook for new and aspiring electricians is good – there is a steady demand for work and relatively minimal competition. Electricians with a wide range of skills can make the most money and will be the most in-demand.
Generally, a day as an electrician involves moderate physical activity such as lifting, bending, and climbing. Electricians also work with a variety of hand tools, and are at risk for injury, both from physical activity and exposure to electrical current. Electricians must be extremely careful to avoid these injuries.
Electricians may specialize in various aspects of electrical work. These include residential work in private homes, commercial work in offices or retail spaces, and industrial work in factories and power plants. Electricians may also specialize in working outdoors, repairing and installing telephone and power lines, or indoors, wiring buildings, and other structures. Some electricians focus on construction, meaning that they plan and install the entire wiring system for a building, while others focus on maintenance, meaning that they repair and inspect buildings for electrical damages and perform necessary system upgrades as needed. All of these specialties are crucial and require lots of training and dedication.
A significant component of the electrical industry is emergency electricians – those who are available around the clock to fix electrical problems. These electricians usually work in residential specialties, but some also work in the commercial sector as well. Because things like power surges or outages may occur in the middle of the night or on a weekend, it is important for major electrical companies to have shifts of electricians on call for 24 hours every day. Emergency electricians also frequently fix issues with heating and cooling systems, as well as smoke alarms. Many electrical companies charge higher rates for electrical services done during off hours. Working as an emergency electrician may mean more stressful hours for you, but you can also make quite a bit more money due to these higher fees.
Independent Electrical Contractors
Electrical contracting is related to working as an electrician, but there are some important differences in the work performed. Electrical contractors focus purely on the construction of electrical systems and are more heavily involved in the design and installation of electrical systems. Some electrical contractors work outdoors on high voltage power lines, while others work indoors on wiring and installing integrated electrical systems. Electrical contractors are often big business who can employ electricians. However, there are also many individuals who are independent electrical contractors. They run their businesses and have their employees to help them complete jobs. If you have business knowledge and entrepreneurial skills in addition to a strong passion for electricity, then you may be cut out for a career as an independent electrical contractor. In this position, you will be completely responsible for all services performed as well as marketing your own business.