Electrician Career Facts

Electricians are trained broadly and usually only specialize according to their employer. If an electrician runs a small business, he or she can be called out to do any sort of work in someone's home-fix a fuse box or an appliance. Electricians in large factories might repair motors and generators so that the factory can continue to run smoothly. Electricians who work in office buildings or small plants can usually do all work around the premises. In all cases, much of their work is preventative maintenance, especially if the electrician is on someone's payroll to keep their business safe.

Electrician Career Description

Electricians can repair electrical systems in all sorts of equipment-leading to air conditioning, refrigerating units, even simply lights. They also install new electrical systems for homes and businesses, and maintain those systems. (While it used to be that an electrician specialized in either installation or maintenance, now more are doing both).

Electrician Career Details

Electricians use blueprints to locate the circuits and outlets of the buildings in which they are hired to work. They then build electrical systems according to federal, state and local code, joining circuits to breakers to bring power to an area. They use specialized equipment to test the functionality and safety of their systems. Electricians are often also qualified to install fiber optic cable for computers and telecommunications equipment. They can also work on intercom systems, street lights, fire alarms and security systems.

Electrician Career Specializations

Electricians are trained broadly and usually only specialize according to their employer. If an electrician runs a small business, he or she can be called out to do any sort of work in someone's home-fix a fuse box or an appliance. Electricians in large factories might repair motors and generators so that the factory can continue to run smoothly. Electricians who work in office buildings or small plants can usually do all work around the premises. In all cases, much of their work is preventative maintenance, especially if the electrician is on someone's payroll to keep their business safe.

Training Programs to Consider:

Lincoln Tech
Locations:
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • Shelton, CT
  • East Windsor, CT
Programs available:
UEI College
Locations:
  • West Covina, CA
Programs available:
Altierus Career College
Locations:
  • Tampa, FL
Programs available:
Southern Careers Institute
Locations:
  • Waco, TX
  • Brownsville, TX
Programs available:

Electrician Career Working Environment

Electricians do not have a cushy job. They work in all areas, even those that are hot, dusty and cramped. They are on their feet all day, often on ladders and scaffolds. They are subject to electrical shock and falls. They have to travel to job sites, which may change daily. Most electricians work 40 hours per week, although some are on-call. Factories and the like require electricians 24 hours per day, so there is a chance of night shifts.

Electrician Career Required Training

Most electricians do not go through formal collegiate training, but rather complete a four- or five-year apprenticeship. They learn their skills on the job, which makes them more marketable by the time they are ready to set out on their own. Apprenticeships are sponsored by committees of unions, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and local chapters of the National Electrical Contractors Association. Management of electrical companies are also often willing to take on apprentices. Most apprenticeship programs involve classroom instruction and thousands of hours on the job. By the end of the program, apprentices will know blueprint reading, electrical theory, electronics, mathematics, electrical code requirements and safety and first aid practices. Some electricians do not complete a formal apprenticeship, and instead start their careers assisting electricians.

Electrician Career Coursework

Electricians do a very practical job, and thus prospective electricians should pay particular attention to the hard sciences. Additionally, high school classes such as shop, mathematics, electronics and mechanical drawing will be particularly helpful when preparing for a career.

Electrician Career Future Job Outlook

The job outlook for electricians in the next ten years is excellent, mainly due to those leaving the field. The work is so strenuous that many retire early. However, new opportunities are continually opening up for electricians. The increased mechanization of labor means more robotics in factories, which means more work. And population booms in many areas means that more homeowners are in need of electricians as well.

Electrician Salary

This median salary in 2011 was $49,320.

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