Electrician: Educational Requirements and Career Profile
Electricians help bring power to residences, commercial areas and industrial complexes. They're employed in a variety of industries, installing and fixing electrical wiring and components. Electricians may specialize in construction or repair, though they often perform both functions. Read on to learn about the education and licensing needed to become an electrician.
Educational Requirements for Electricians
Electricians usually gain career training through apprenticeship programs. Some electricians may begin the training process by attending a classroom-based vocational program or serving as an electrician's helper; however, these electricians often go on to complete apprenticeships.
Candidates who hold high school diplomas or the equivalent may apply to become apprentices through various unions, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or the National Electrical Contractors Association. Completion of these 4-year programs allows apprentices to become journeymen and work on both construction and repair projects.
Apprentices receive approximately 600 hours of in-class instruction on safety principles, electrical circuits and blueprint reading. Aside from learning in the classroom, apprentices also receive on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced electricians. Apprentices may practice wiring outlets and soldering electrical components.
Career Profile for Electricians
Electricians may work for utility companies, construction firms or service providers. Electricians in different industries may have varying job descriptions. For example, maintenance electricians working for factories may be required to service and repair assembly lines, while construction electricians who work on remodeling homes may need to install switches and rewire lighting.
Electricians in most states must be licensed by their respective state board. Licensing requirements generally include completing a qualifying test on electrical applications and building codes. The BLS notes that self-employed electricians working as contractors may need to earn a separate contractor's license and complete a bachelor's degree program in electrical engineering or a related field.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS stated that opportunities for electricians were expected to increase by 23% between 2010 and 2020. The Bureau also noted that employment is very sensitive to economic swings, so electricians may find themselves unemployed when the number of construction projects decreases. In May 2012, the BLS reported that the average annual wage for electricians was $53,030. Electricians in the top tenth percentile earned $82,930 per year, whereas the bottom tenth percentile earned $30,420 per year.
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