The job of an electrician is an important function in building and maintaining homes and businesses. They install electrical and power systems, maintain wiring and control equipment which uses power flow to operate. The electrician may specialize in either construction work, installing systems, or in maintenance work, fixing and upgrading electrical systems and doing repair work. Most electricians are employees of businesses, but about nine percent of them are self-employed.
Working electricians often benefit from the completion of a training program, which can lead to higher pay and better employment prospects. Check out the programs below which offer free information:
Electricians who are working on a building project will start by reading blueprints and diagrams. These show locations of circuitry, panel boards, and equipment necessary to distribute power throughout the structure. They are required to follow local building codes, and also the National Electrical Code when doing their work. Installation duties require using hand tools and power tools to set up wiring and systems. Other specialized equipment such as ohmmeters, voltmeters, and ammeters are used for testing purposes. The electrician will use these tools and knowledge to install and connect wires to circuit breakers, transformers, outlets and fixtures.
Repair duties require the electrician to understand and perform work on fuse boxes, circuit breakers and appliances. They may be working with and installing household fixtures such as ceiling fans and lighting fixtures.
Some electricians work in industry, and install and maintain complex machinery in factories. They may do repair on motors, generators, or even work on industrial robots. Electricians work closely with architects, construction project managers, engineers, and technicians in the course of their work.
Automation and the desire to conserve energy in commercial settings will provide jobs in the future to electricians who wish to pursue this direction. Keeping up with the newest trends in industry and obtaining training in methods of new technology will enable an electrician to obtain employment in the manufacturing sector as business finds ways of streamlining production and becoming more environmentally conscious.
An electrician may work indoors, or they may work outdoors on construction sites. There is considerable physical work involved in an electrician’s job. Lifting heavy objects may be involved as well as bending and kneeling for long periods. An individual should be physically able to be involved in such activities to pursue this type of career.
Training and Education Requirements
Anyone interested in pursuing a career as an electrician must usually be at least eighteen years of age, and have a high school diploma or G.E.D. certificate. They may also have to pass a test or meet other requirements to qualify for a program.
Apprenticeship programs are available for on-the-job training. This type of experience combined with classroom instruction is the way that most electricians learn their trade. Apprenticeship opportunities can be accessed by contacting local unions of electrical workers, individual contracting companies, and chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors organization. The normal apprenticeship lasts for approximately four years. This will qualify the candidate to work on both construction and maintenance types of work.
Each year, the apprentice electrician also takes approximately 144 hours of classroom training. This provides instruction in blueprint reading, electrical theory, mathematics and understanding safety practices and code requirements.
Training doesn’t stop when the electrician is licensed. Continuing education credits may be taken throughout the electrician’s career, adding specialized knowledge and training on new systems which are developed, such as green energy.
Salary and Wages
The latest figures on electrician’s income indicate that the average hourly wage for an electrician is around $24.00. This can vary depending on the job description. For example, a master electrician will make upwards of $30.00 per hour. Belonging to a union has a great impact on earnings. Union electricians can earn almost twice the hourly income of a non-union electrician. Apprentice electricians earn approximately 30 – 50% of the income of a licensed electrician.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Because electricians work with potentially dangerous power systems, they must have a full grasp of techniques and skills, and safety knowledge. Most states require that electricians become licensed by taking examinations based on electrical theory, building codes, and the National Electrical Code. Licensing requirements will vary from state to state.
Electrical contractors who perform work for the public may be required to pursue a special license to demonstrate their abilities. They may also need to be certified as master electricians. This type of designation is usually available to candidates who have seven years or more as an electrician, or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering.
There are numerous professional associations which an electrician may choose to join. Because about thirty-two percent of all electricians are members of a union, they may belong to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; The International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine and Furniture Workers; the International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; or the United Steelworkers of America.
Other professional groups include the National Electrical Contractors Association and the Independent Electrical Contractors Association. There are industry-specific organizations which specialize in high-tech and other fields. Master electricians who are also electrical engineers have a large variety of associations which they can join as well.
See also: Electrician Apprentice Job Description