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Electrician Career Guide

Do you not fancy getting a degree, but are still looking for a career with excellent employment and development opportunities? Are you hands-on, practical and dedicated?

If yes, then the career as an electrician will be perfect for you.

An electrician is a skilled tradesman who designs, installs, maintains, and troubleshoots electrical wiring systems. They install, connect, assess, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial environments. Most electricians will need a high school diploma or equivalent. After this, they will then complete an apprenticeship program.

Like nurses and teachers, qualified electricians are in high demand. Train to be an electrician and you should have no problem finding a role in your desired company. Failing that, setting out on your own is a good way to; it can bring with it a good salary and the chance to choose your own hours of work.

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Electrician Career Ratings

Income

Career
Growth

Personal Growth

Contribution

Influence

Job Profiles

Real-Life Electrician Job Profiles

Below is a list of links to anonymous job profiles of REAL PEOPLE who have filled out our survey and offered to share their insights with our users about their job in the Electrician field.
ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33284 Electrical Technician Male 24 $20,800 Murfreesboro, TN 01/01/2010
32473 Electrical Meter Reader Male 27 $21,000 Mechanicsville, NY 01/01/2010
32450 Electrical Female 50 $50,000 smyrna, TN 01/01/2010

Overview

What an electrician actually does

An electrician is a skilled tradesman who works within the construction industry and designs, installs, maintains, and troubleshoots electrical wiring systems. They install, connect, assess, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial environments. They may also work on machines, electronic devices, appliances, and lighting. Electricians must have an understanding of how electrical systems work and must ensure that systems are installed and maintained flawlessly to prevent the risk of fire or exposure to an electrical current. Their typical duties and responsibilities include:

  • Reading blueprints or technical diagrams
  • Installing and maintaining wiring, control, and lighting systems
  • Inspecting electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers
  • Identifying electrical problems using a variety of testing devices
  • Repairing or replacing wiring, equipment, or fixtures using tools
  • Following state and local building regulations based on the National Electrical Code
  • Directing and training workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Why they are needed

Almost every building has electrical power, communications, lighting and control system that must be installed and maintained to be habitable. Having lights, appliances and equipment makes each of our lives better, easier and more enjoyable. Electricians have the unique skills to install these systems, and maintain and repair them. Electricians support the growth in the construction industry, steel production, manufacturing and electrical power companies. They are crucial to supporting the growing population and our changing lifestyles.

Pros and cons of a career as an electrician:

Pros:

    • There are a variety of opportunities for electricians. For example, electricians can become self-employed, work in different sized organizations or progress to more senior and specialist roles that have more responsibility
    • Electricians can work in a variety settings (e.g., residential buildings, commercial buildings)
    • Electricians who work hard and are highly skilled can make a very good income
    • No degree is required (electricians can go to community college or technical colleges)

Cons:

  • Electricians can work long (and occasionally antisocial) hours
  • It is a physically demanding job, as electricians are on their feet all day
  • Electricians may have to work in small spaces or at high elevations
  • Electrical work can be dangerous (e.g., electricians may suffer from shocks, burns or falls)
  • Although no degree is required, electricians have to train for a long time in order to qualify

Employability

Job market

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of electricians is projected to grow 8 percent from 2019 to 2029, which is faster than the average for all occupations. This employment growth is expected due to an increase in construction spending. Furthermore, the demands for alternative energy sources (e.g., solar and wind) will create a demand for electricians to install them. These alternative power sources will need to be linked to homes and power grids over the coming decade.

Electricians who can perform many different tasks, such as electronic systems repair, solar photovoltaic installation, and industrial component wiring, tend to have the best job opportunities. Like all construction trades, the employment of electricians will fluctuate with the overall economy. There will be a greater demand for electricians during peak periods of building construction and maintenance. On the other hand, workers may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction and maintenance falls.

Career paths

The career path to becoming an electrician is typically through a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship program. To get accepted onto these programs, a high school diploma is required. Apprentices typically receive 2,000 hours of paid-on0the job training and some technical instructions (on topics such as electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements and safety and first-aid).

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship requirements vary by state and locality.

Some electrical contractors have their own training programs, which are not recognized apprenticeship programs but include both technical and on-the-job training. The Home Builders Institute offers a preapprenticeship certificate training (PACT) program for eight construction trades, including electricians.

After completing an apprenticeship program, electricians are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own. After meeting additional requirements and working as a qualified electrician, journey workers may advance to become master electricians. Electricians may also find opportunities to advance to supervisor or to other roles in project management.

Example Job Titles for Electrician

Below is a list of common job titles in the Electrician field. Click the links below for more information about these job titles, or view the next section for actual real-life job profiles.

Benefits & Conditions

Income and benefits

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for electricians was $56,180 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,410, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $96,580. The top paying industry was the government, where the median annual salary is $62,940. This was followed by manufacturing ($60,000), electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors ($54,630) and employment services ($49,140).

It is important to note that the median income for electricians will vary with their experience and skill level, the industry, and the size of the company they work for.

Autonomy and Flexibility

The level of autonomy and flexibility for an electrician will vary greatly depending on the amount of experience they have and the size of the company they work for. For instance, an electrician with 10 years experience will have more control over their decisions than an apprentice. Similarly, a self-employed/contractor electrician is likely to have more flexibility than those who work for a large company. However, the downside to this is that they will be responsible for ensuring that ongoing work is available.

Locations and commute

According to Zippia, the best states to be a electrician in 2020, based on annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:

  1. Alaska, where the average annual salary is $61,234
  2. Wyoming, where the average annual salary is $58,833
  3. New Hampshire, where the average annual salary is $58,852
  4. Nevada, where the average annual salary is $58,664
  5. Oregon, where the average annual salary is $57,952

The worst states were Louisiana, North Carolina, Florida, Arizona and Hawaii.

Work environment

The largest employer of electricians in the United States was electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors, which employed 67% of electricians. This was followed by the manufacturing industry, which employed 7% of all electricians, self-employed workers (5%), the government (3%) and employment services (3%).

Electricians work both indoors and outdoors at homes, businesses, factories, and construction sites. Because electricians must travel to different worksites, commuting is often required. Whilst at work, electricians may occasionally have to work in cramped spaces. The long periods of standing and kneeling can be tiring and electricians may be exposed to dirt, dust, debris, or fumes. Those working outside may be exposed to hot or cold temperatures and inclement weather. Those who work in factories are often subject to noisy machinery.

Many electricians work alone, but sometimes they collaborate with others. Electricians employed by large companies are likely to work as part of a crew, directing helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

Career Satisfaction

Common Matching Personality Types

Which personalities tend to succeed and thrive in Electrician careers? Based on our research, there is a relatively strong positive correlation between the following personality types and Electrician career satisfaction. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t many exceptions, of course, but if you fit into one of the following personality types then we suggest you give strong consideration to a career in Electrician.

16 Types (Myers-Briggs)

  • None

Big Five (OCEAN)

  • None

DISC

  • None

Enneagram

  • None

Holland Codes (RIASEC)

Personality types

There has been no scientific exploration into exactly what personality types will make a successful electrician. However, the Myers Briggs personality type of ISTP, or otherwise known as ‘the craftsperson’, is likely to be a successful electrician. This is because these types are able to tackle problems in their immediate environment, with an innate mechanical ability and they enjoy building things. ISTPs are typically very attentive to detail, independent, adaptable and self-directed, which are key skills for welder.

Accomplishment and mastery

As electricians can learn the advanced skills they need in a relatively short space of time,  they are likely to feel a high sense of skill accomplishment and mastery. After gaining experience in the occupation, an electricians sense of accomplishment and mastery is further progressed as they become master electricians. Furthermore, electricians may then have the opportunity to advance to become a supervisor, job superintendent or to start their own business, further increasing the sense of accomplishment and mastery.

Meaning and contribution

As every building requires the unique skills of an electrician to instal the power systems that allows us to have the lighting and appliances we need, being an electrician offers a high sense of meaning and contribution to those in a developed society.

If you are seeking a career with high meaning and contribution, but still love the idea of becoming an electrician, then we suggest volunteering in deprived areas and helping people in need to instal power systems in the buildings they need to work, play and live.

Life fit

Most electricians will work full time. Often, electricians will work evenings and weekends and overtime is common. To get the best life fit, electricians may decide to become self-employed. This way, electricians can set their own schedule and hours.

Who will thrive in this career?

To truly thrive as an electrician, there are some important qualities that are needed, for example:

  • Physical fitness, stamina and strength, so that they can work in confined spaces, stand for long periods of time and/or lift heavy materials
  • Bravery, as electricians must be able to work at great heights or in dangerous situations in order to thrive
  • Those who can work well as part of a team and communicate will with others are likely to thrive as an electrician, as they will often need to communicate with other construction workers and clients 
  • The ability to pay attention to detail is essential to thrive as an electrician, as they will need to follow blueprints and must avoid hazardous materials 
  • The ability to work well under pressure will help you to thrive as an electrician because they will need to be able to work to deadlines  

Who will struggle in this career?

You are are likely to struggle with working as an electricians if you are physically unfit and/or don’t have the nerve to work in confined, and potentially hazardous conditions. If you prefer to work alone or do less practical/technical work, then you may struggle as an electrician due to the team environment and the hands-on nature of the work.

Requirements

Skills and talents

Aspiring electricians will learn all the skills they need through an apprenticeship. However, it is also important to have skills such as:

  • Mathematical skills, because electricians will need to follow blueprints and ensure that they instal systems correctly
  • Communication skills are key as electricians need to be able to communicate with clients and other construction workers
  • Physical fitness and stamina, as electricians will spend a lot of their working day lifting heavy materials, standing and/and kneeling in confined spaces
  • Detail orientation, as electricians need to careful follow blueprints in order to ensure their electrical systems work
  • Critical thinking, as electricians must be able to problem-solve when issues arise in a project

Education

Aspiring electricians will need a high school diploma. After completing this, electricians then typically enrol in a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship program. During this program, apprentices will typically receive 2,000 hours of paid-on0the job training and some technical instructions (on topics such as electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements and safety and first-aid).

After completing an apprenticeship program, electricians are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own. After meeting additional requirements and working as a qualified electrician, journey workers may advance to become master electricians.

Certifications

Most states require electricians to pass a test and be licensed. Requirements vary by state. For more information, contact your local or state electrical licensing board. Many of the requirements can be found on the National Electrical Contractors Association’s website.

The tests have questions related to the National Electrical Code and state and local electrical codes, all of which set standards for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment. Electricians may be required to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their licenses. These courses are usually related to safety practices, changes to the electrical code, and training from manufacturers in specific products.

Electricians may obtain additional certifications, which demonstrate competency in areas such as solar photovoltaic, electrical generating, or lighting systems.

How to Become

Summary

An electrician is a skilled tradesman who works within the construction industry and designs, installs, maintains, and troubleshoots electrical wiring systems. They install, connect, assess, and repair electrical systems in residential and commercial environments. They may also work on machines, electronic devices, appliances, and lighting.

It is a career that is set to offer many exciting employment opportunities over the coming years, as the importances of alternative energy is becoming more and more important.

Immediate action

Although not a necessity, electricians may have better employment opportunities if they have experience in the construction industry. Based on this, if you want to become an electrician, we recommend looking for some local construction labor/worker work.

Education and learning

Most electricians will need a high school diploma or equivalent. After this, they will then complete an apprenticeship program.

Skill development

Electricians learn all their skills through their apprenticeship program. They will continue to develop their skills throughout their career and can progress to becoming master electricians, supervisors or business owners.

FAQs

Ask a Question

Have a question about Electrician careers? If so, our mentors would love to help! Just click on a mentor’s profile below and then fill out the “Ask a Question” form on that page. Your question will then be emailed to the mentor, who can then email you a reply.

ID Job Title Gender Age Earnings City & State Date
33284 Electrical Technician Male 24 $20,800 Murfreesboro, TN 01/01/2010
32473 Electrical Meter Reader Male 27 $21,000 Mechanicsville, NY 01/01/2010
32450 Electrical Female 50 $50,000 smyrna, TN 01/01/2010

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