Electricians help us keep the lights on after the power goes out. They are tasked with solving complex math problems and installing electrical systems, all while adhering to the necessary electrical and building codes.
If you are thinking about becoming an electrician, you are following a noble pursuit. Life would get very old without electricians and all the conveniences they afford us. From lights and air conditioning to electronic gadgets and Wi-Fi, it’s clear that everyone needs electricians no matter their station in life.
Here are fifteen facts you should know about becoming an electrician, including what they do, how much they earn, and more. By knowing this information, you can further decide if becoming an electrician is the profession for you.
1. The Electrician is An Important Role
Electricians are tasked with much more than fiddling with and replacing wires. Electricians read blueprints and solve math problems; they install electrical systems and rewire buildings. They fix and replace transformers and power boxes, and test power lines for surges or electrical deficiencies.
As you can see, someone working with electric circuitry needs to know a thing or two about how electricity is conducted, harnessed, funneled, and used safely. And, as such, electricians are paid very well for the work that they do, especially compared to other trades.
2. Electricians Earn More Than Your Average Trade
Electrical workers earn an average of a little over $22.32 per hour. An apprentice can start out earning around 30% to 50% of the salary of an experienced electrician in their area. The student electrician can then expect periodic pay increases that match his or her skill development.
The pay you receive as an electrician will also depend on your specialty. At the higher end of the scale are those who work in electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution. Those electricians can expect to pull in around $29 an hour, on average.
Non-residential building construction electricians are at the lower or mid-range at $22 per hour.
In 2018, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that electricians in the 90th percentile or higher pulled in nearly $95,000 or more per year. The bottom tenth percentile, meanwhile, earned close to $33,000 or less each year.
Around one third of U.S. electricians belong to a union, and most are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
3. Electricians Require Extensive Training
Training to become an electrician takes about four years and involves an apprenticeship, which is comprised of both on-the-job training and classes. Many electrical contracting companies offer sponsored apprenticeship programs, as do local chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors or the Independent Electrical Contractors Association.
To become an apprentice, you are required to have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.).
As a trained electrician, you are expected to maintain current knowledge of the National Electric Code throughout your career. Continued education may also be required to cover topics that apply to your individual branch of the electrical trade.
4. Most Electricians Require a License
Most states require all electricians to be licensed by the respective state board. Licensing requirements will generally include completing a qualifying test on building codes and electrical applications.
If you plan to work as a self-employed electrical contractor, you may need to earn a separate contractor’s license following the completion of a bachelor’s degree program in electrical engineering or related industry.
5. There Are Many Types of Electricians Working Today
Electricians have the benefit of taking advantage of a wide range of diverse and rewarding career opportunities. Here are just some of the jobs you may be able to take as an apprentice and eventually a fully licensed electrician.
Journeyman Electrician: This type of electrician installs, adds, alters, and repairs electrical conductors and all associated equipment. The professional reads blueprints, installs and troubleshoots wiring issues, and supervises apprentices.
Master Electrician: This electrician installs, alters, or repairs conductors and associated equipment. The master electrician supervises journeymen electricians. Some states refer to master electricians as “electrical contractors.”
Lead Person: This professional installs, alters, and repairs electrical systems, conductors, and other equipment. The electrician is required to get a journeyman’s license and works from plans and specifications. You usually see a lead person supervising crews of other journeymen, as well as apprentices and helpers.
Area Supervisor: This electrician installs, alters, and repairs electrical systems, conductors. Like a lead person, this professional electrician also holds a journeyman’s license, and also leads and works alongside a crew. The area supervisor’s job is to lay out the work and be certain that the proper materials and tools are on the jobsite. The area supervisor usually supervises one or multiple crews.
Project Supervisor: This professional is tasked with installing, altering, and repairing electrical systems, conductors, and other equipment. The project supervisor also holds a journeyman’s license and is responsible for all the field employees on a particular project, including taking daily reports, monitoring their work, and ensuring everyone adheres to their schedules.
Estimator: An electrician estimator develops bid proposals and calculates takeoffs while working in his or her company’s best interests. In other words, the electrician works toward profitability while controlling costs. The professional must provide careful analysis of project plans to ensure accurate labor, time schedule, and supply estimates.
6. Electricians are Social
It is a myth that all electricians work in solitary jobs. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The fact is, the job of an electrician is a very social one. It makes sense, since the path to becoming an electrician is to join an apprenticeship, where you learn from others around you. During your apprenticeship, you will be working with teams of other electricians, but also tradespeople of all kinds (as well as the client you are doing the work for).
When you work hard enough to get your journeyman license, you may find yourself training a few apprentices of your own. And you are likely to train quite a few more over the course of your career. That means you will be working with other like minded people the entire time you are working as an electrician, so you’re never all by yourself for very long.
7. The Electrician’s Job Can Be Physical
While you need a lot of smarts to become an electrician, you also need to be physically able bodied. There is a significant physical aspect to the electrician’s job. You need to be able to wield shovels to dig trenches, use conduit benders and saws, as well as climb stars, ladders, and scaffolding. You may think you’re fit enough to climb a ladder, but what about going up and down that ladder several times throughout the day?
That’s not to say that you need to be a bodybuilder or fitness buff to become an electrician, but you should be able to complete the physical requirements in order to be a good one.
That being said, there are plenty of electricians who are well into their sixties who you wouldn’t necessarily call “in shape” but they tend to get the job done. If you have full range of motion and an okay by your doctor, you should be able to complete the requirements to become an electrician.
8. You Should Be Good with Your Hands
Electrical work requires a ton of manual dexterity, and hand-eye coordination. This is good news for those video game addicts out there.
9. You Should Have Good Vision
Some electrical work requires you to see incredibly small objects. If you have glasses that allow you to see with perfect vision, then you should be okay. However, you will run into problems if you are colorblind. Colorblindness make it so that you can’t distinguish between some colors, usually red and green, from any others. And because wires are often color-coded, being color blind can lead to costly and dangerous mistakes.
Color blindness affects up to 80% of the male population. If you want to be an electrician, get your eyes checked to see if there are any issues keeping you from your dream profession.
10. There is Math Involved
If you hated math in school, you may have trouble as an electrician. You may also be dismayed to find out that there is math involved in all trades, not just electrical work.
Electricians are required to know algebra specifically, which is usually covered at the high school level. This is a big reason why having a high school diploma or GED is required for most electrician apprenticeships.
If you are bad at math, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make a horrible electrician. There are many successful electricians who learned all the math they need to know in their apprenticeship or electrician schooling programs.
11. Electricians Not Only Make Good Money, but They Have Job Security & Growth
We live in an era where many good jobs are disappearing, but not for electricians. In fact, the field of the electrical worker is brighter than ever. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that electricians will enjoy a 20% increase in employment between 2012 and 2022. By contrast, the BLS only estimated 11% growth for other occupations.
12. Electrical Work is Varied
If you like every day to be different, you will love life as an electrician. You are always traveling to new locations, meeting new people, and working on different kinds of tasks. All this novelty has contributed to electricians experiencing increased life satisfaction, which can be translated to more professional satisfaction as well.
13. You Use a Wide Range of Tools
When you work with electricity, you can find yourself working with the standard tools like screwdrivers and wire cutters, but you also have specialized tools that make your job easier and safer.
Ammeters: These tools measure electrical currents in a circuit in units called amperes.
Ohmmeters: The opposition to an electrical current is known as electrical resistance. An ohmmeter measures this resistance.
Voltmeters: These tools measure the voltage that is passing between points.
Oscilloscopes: This tool measures on a graph how voltage rises and falls over specific periods of time.
14. Being an Electrician is an Excellent Career Choice
By now we have covered the higher income that electrical workers have to look forward to, the varied schedule, the social aspect of the job, and the immense opportunities for growth. This makes the trade of electrician one of the best in terms of longevity and job satisfaction.
Aside from all the perks, there is the joy of knowing that you are helping so many people keep the lights and heat on and letting them enjoy all of technology’s wonders and innovations. Without electricians, the world would be a very different place.
So not only do you have a great job to look forward to, you also get the warm feeling that comes with helping others.
15. You Can Become an Electrician Quickly
You can become an electrician starting today by finding an apprenticeship in your local area. Search for organizations and associations near you, as many can point you in the right direction. You are almost guaranteed to make some excellent connections by following this path. By nurturing those connections, you may find yourself pursuing an advanced course that gives you access to hands-on training beginning nearly right away.
There is no time like the present to get started. Find an apprenticeship program near you and start on the amazing career of the electrician.
Call Our Electricians to Learn More
At Schlumbrecht’s Electric, we proudly serve the New Orleans area with our solid work ethic and desire to do a job well done for clients of all types. If you have questions about being an electrician, we will be proud to answer your question.
If you need electrical work in and around the New Orleans area, we have trained and experienced electrical specialists who can diagnose problems, alter and repair wiring and components, and take care of any electrical projects that you may have, from wiring and lighting to security systems and more. Call now for a free estimate.