If you are searching for a long-term career, then working as an electrician may be the right choice for you. While this job does not require a traditional degree, you will be expected to complete specific training programs. Once you are hired as an electrician, you can expect to earn a median salary that is higher than the average salary in the United States.
What Skills Do You Need to Have?
There are a few different skills you will need if you want to succeed as an electrician. In general, you will need physical stamina and strength in order to perform the job properly. Additionally, you must be able to troubleshoot potential problems through critical thinking.
1. Critical Thinking
As an electrician, you must be able to use your mind to diagnose and repair issues. Your troubleshooting skills will help you figure out why an electrical line has failed. For example, you may use a multimeter to check an outlet’s amperage and resistance in order to figure out why it is not working.
2. An Ability to See Colors
Being able to see in color is not just a job requirement. It could also save your life. Because electricians need to be able to tell different electrical wires apart, they must be able to see different colors in order to do their job safely.
3. Physical Stamina and Strength
As an electrician, you will rarely spend your day sitting at a desk. Instead, you must run wires, connect fixtures and move heavy components. Some of the components may weigh up to 50 pounds. If you want to do this job, you will need average strength and stamina.
4. A Talent for Working With Customers
To succeed as an electrician, you will also need to work with people. Customer service is important because you will have to interact with clients on a regular basis. If you plan on starting your own business as an electrician, customer service will be vital to your company’s long-term success.
What Degree Do You Need to Become an Electrician?
In general, you will be expected to have a high school diploma or its equivalent if you want to become an electrician. Afterward, most electricians attend a technical school. During your training, you will learn about how electrical systems work and how to stay safe. Depending on your state, your training program may count as a part of your apprenticeship.
While each state is different, you will generally need to spend four or five years in an apprenticeship program before you can officially become an electrician. Each year of the program consists of 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Unlike other career fields, these training hours will be paid. You will make less than you would as a certified electrician, but you will still earn a decent wage.
Sometimes, unions and similar groups will sponsor apprenticeship programs. Your state may also allow you to shorten your apprenticeship if you have electrical experience from a job in the construction industry or the military. There is also a training program offered through the Home Builders Institute.
No matter where you go for your training or apprenticeship, you will learn about similar topics. Before you can be an electrician, you must have a solid understanding of math, first aid and electrical codes. You will also need to understand how to repair fire alarm systems and elevators. To succeed in this field, electricians must be talented at soldering, reading blueprints and similar tasks.
Do You Need a Certification?
You will generally have to pass a test in order to get your license. The exact requirements can vary based on your location. For example, Texas requires journeyman electricians to finish 8,000 hours of on-the-job training before taking a test to get their license. Apprentice electricians, journeyman electricians and master electricians all have different requirements.
Meanwhile, California requires certified electricians to finish 8,000 hours of work and a registered apprenticeship. A non-residential lighting technician only has to complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. All of the electrician levels must pass an exam in order to become an electrician.
How Long Does It Take to Become an Electrician?
In general, you will need to complete around 8,000 hours of on-the-job training before you can become certified as an electrician. This works out to about four years of full-time work. While this may sound like a lot, this field is different than other industries. There are other certifications you can get while you work on your final certification. In addition, you can still work in the industry while you are pursuing your career goals.
How Much Will You Make as an Electrician?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for an electrician is $56,900 per year. This works out to $27.36 per hour. At the top of the pay scale, the top 10 percent earned $98,720. Meanwhile, the bottom 10 percent made just $33,810.
These wages are better than the average worker’s pay in the United States. During the same time period, a typical worker made a median salary of $41,535. While becoming an electrician can take time, the increased salary is worth it for many workers.
What Are Your Job Prospects in This Field?
If you are employed as an electrician, you will discover excellent job prospects. In addition to installing electrical systems in new buildings, electricians must repair and maintain old properties as well. Over the last decade, an average of 84,700 new positions opened up every year. Between now and 2030, the number of positions will increase by 9 percent.