How To Become An Electrician
Electricians install, maintain and repair electrical power, lighting and control systems in residential and commercial buildings. The world depends on electricians to provide electricity to our homes and businesses.
In order to become an electrician, you need to attend an apprenticeship program. Some electricians also attend a technical school. An apprenticeship program typically requires a high school diploma or GED for entry, and takes four or five years to complete. Many states require electricians to be licensed.
Why Become An Electrician
All buildings have electrical power, and it is the responsibility of electricians to install and maintain electrical power in residential and commercial buildings. Electricians have a wide variety of tasks, including installing wiring, control, and lighting systems. They read blueprints in order to identify wiring systems. They inspect different kinds of electrical components.
They identify electrical problems, repair and place wiring or fixtures. During the construction process of a residential home or an office building, it is easy to install the electric system. Maintaining and repairing these systems in existing buildings is more difficult because it involves reading blueprints to figure out where the electrical components are, accessing them, and repairing or replacing equipment that was installed by somebody else.
This is a good job for somebody who enjoys doing hands-on work, is good at technical and manual labor, and enjoys fixing things.
Electricians should possess the following qualities and skills:
- Physical Strength
- Detail Oriented
- Critical Thinking
- Manual Dexterity
- Technical Skills
Electrician Work Environment
Almost all electricians work for an electrical contracting company. Others may be self-employed, or work for the federal or state governments. Electricians often work alone when they are at a job site. If an electrician works at a larger company, they are more likely to be hired as part of a crew. Electricians work indoors and outdoors, in all kinds of weather conditions.
They are hired for residential and commercial work. They must be prepared to work in any type of environment. This is a physical job that involves lifting heavy objects, standing, kneeling, climbing, and fitting into tight spaces. Electricians have a higher rate of injuries and illnesses than most other jobs. They wear protective clothing to reduce risks on the job site.
The median annual wage for electricians was $55,000 in 2017, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. There are many variables to take into consideration that determine the salary that a person makes. Many electricians start out as apprentices. At this level, they do not make as much money as full time electricians.
As they gain more experienced, they become promoted and earn more money. Many electricians are part of a union, which helps to set a contract for their salary. Some electricians are self-employed, setting their own wages. The industry that an electrician works in also determines their salary.
Those who worked for the government made a median annual wage of $61,000 in 2017. Those who worked for an electrical company made a median annual wage of $52,000 in 2017.
Average Electrician Annual Salary
The average annual salary for electricians is $57,910 a year. Salaries start at $32,180 a year and go up to $92,690 a year.
Average Electrician Hourly Wage
The average hourly wage for a electrician is $27.84. Hourly wages are between $15.47 and $44.56 an hour.
Stats were based out of 631,080 employed electricians in the United States.
Highest Paying States For Electricians
- 1. Hawaii $37.50 / hr $77,990 / yr
- 2. District of Columbia $37.18 / hr $77,330 / yr
- 3. Alaska $37.10 / hr $77,180 / yr
- 4. New York $36.77 / hr $76,480 / yr
- 5. Illinois $35.58 / hr $74,010 / yr
Top Paying Cities For Electricians
- 1. San Rafael, CA $44.65 / hr$92,880 / yr
- 2. San Francisco, CA $43.50 / hr$90,490 / yr
- 3. Oakland, CA $41.84 / hr$87,030 / yr
- 4. New York, NY $40.29 / hr$83,810 / yr
- 5. Kennewick, WA $39.42 / hr$82,000 / yr
Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
Electrician Career Outlook
Employment of electricians is projected to grow 9 percent between 2016 and 2026. This is about as fast as other occupations in the United States. Overall this will account for 60,000 new jobs in this field over the next 10 years. One of the major factors affecting this field is alternative power generation.
As the interest in solar and wind energy, and other sustainable resources, increases, electricians will be needed in this emerging field. Those who have experience in sustainability will have better opportunities for employment. Electricians will be needed to link alternative power sources to homes and power grids.
An electrician is expected to have a high school diploma or a GED. Most electricians enter this profession by attending an apprenticeship program. During this apprenticeship program, they work under the supervision of already qualified and licensed full-time electricians.
Each year of the program typically involves 2,000 hours of on the job training, under the supervision of other electricians. This apprenticeship training is paid. It also involves classroom instruction on the basics of electric work. Students learn about electrical theory, blueprint reading, safety, code requirements, and basic mathematics.
An apprenticeship program typically lasts four of five years. Most states require electricians to be licensed. These requirements vary by state. Electricians must pass a test in order to receive their license. They must all take continuing education courses in order to maintain their license.
Below we have listed examples of some of the courses you can expect to take in an electrician program. Keep in mind that there are many other types of courses you will be expected to take as well.
Electrical Fundamentals: This course provides the basic overview of skills needed to be a residential electrician. You will learn about basic electrical terms and concepts, and about how power is supplied to a residence. You will learn about both AC and DC circuits. You will learn about the math needed for electrical measurements, calculations, and conversions.
HVAC Systems: This is a course in heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. In this course, students will discover the common components of a building’s HVAC system. Students will gain understanding of different heating sources and learn the benefits of electric heating.
Drawings and Blueprints: Schematic diagrams and blueprint are incredibly important for a residential electrician’s work. In this course, students learn how blueprints are prepared. They learn to read schematics and diagrams and to trac wiring diagrams for motor controls.
Electrician Career Path
|Apprentice||An apprentice is a person who is just learning the basics of the electrician profession. They work under the supervision of a full-time trained electrician.||Their responsibilities include doing tasks that are asked for by their supervising electrician, looking over schematics and blueprints, assisting with wiring and equipment, installing electricity in new residencies and commercial buildings, and overall working as part of an electrician team.||A typical apprenticeship requires a high school diploma. An apprenticeship program typically takes 4 to 5 years to complete.||This is a great way for most people to enter into the occupation as an electrician, and quickly build up experience and education to becoming full-time electricians.|
|Journeyman||A journeyman is the second step, after becoming an apprentice, in order to become a licensed master electrician.||Journeymen are able to read blueprints, troubleshoot motors and controls, inspect and test wiring systems, install wiring, connect circuit breaks and transformers, diagnose and resolve problems, and more.||A journeyman must first complete their apprenticeship as an electrician, which takes about 4 to 5 years. After that, they take a test to receive a journeyman’s license.||Once a journeyman has completed two years of work experience, they are able to apply to become a master electrician.|
Related Electrician Careers
An electrician is a rewarding career. If you are interested in this career, there are many other career paths to choose from as well. Below we have listed some similar occupations. Keep in mind that these are only a few occupations that are related to electricians.
Power Plant Operators: Power plant operators work in local power plants, controlling the systems that generate and distribute electric power to nearby communities.
HVAC Technicians: Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) technicians work on these systems that control the temperature and air quality inside of buildings.
Aircraft Technicians: Aircraft technicians repair commercial aircraft and perform scheduled maintenance to keep aircraft in peak operating performance.