Table of Contents
- Job Description
- Education Requirements
- Licensing Requirements
- Years of Experience and Salary
- Salary Ranges
- Job Growth Trends
- Pros of Being an Electrician
- Cons of Being an Electrician
- Pros and Cons of Being an Electrician – Summary Table
- Should You Become an Electrician?
Electricians use wire strippers, pliers, ammeters, voltmeters, thermal scanners, and cable testers to install, maintain, troubleshoot, and repair electric service in homes, businesses, industrial sites, motor vehicles, planes, and ships.
Additionally, electricians also create and read schematic diagrams of electrical circuits, outlets, and other equipment used in communication networks and control systems.
As of 2020, 65 percent of all indoor and outdoor electricians work as electrical contractors and other wiring installers.
Before students reach high school, educators and parents can encourage potential electricians to participate in groups such as 4-H.
This group provides programs that lay the groundwork for an electrician career, such as the 4-H Robotics and Engineering Educational Kits.
These kits teach the basics of circuitry, physics, and electric power generation.
In addition, the 4-H Electrical Excitement courses Two through Four and the Essential Physics course each prepare students in middle school through 10th grade for possible careers as electricians in school systems that do not have high school vocational programs.
However, once you reach high school, students should acquire a firm grasp of algebra, electrical circuitry theory from physics, business writing skills, and industrial arts.
Moreover, high school students need vocational courses in carpentry, construction, mechanical drawing, electronics, and computer network/data wiring to work toward a career as an electrician.
After that, take full advantage of dual or concurrent enrollment to complete classes in Electrical Technology while you minimize tuition costs.
Between high school and trade school, you could opt into any branch of the U.S. military, especially the Seabees, which stands for the United States Naval Construction Battalion.
You might also opt into the Army Corps of Engineers 12R Interior Electrician Military Occupational Specialty (MOS).
Alternatively, you could apply to programs sponsored by trade unions and industry associations such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) or the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
Seven states do not require electricians to obtain a license to work at low voltage: Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Four states — Colorado, Indiana, Missouri, and Pennsylvania — defer their oversight to local government bodies.
In contrast, the remaining 39 states all require a state-issued license to perform the duties of an electrician.
Approximately 650,580 people work as electricians in the United States.
Of these, 479,810 work as building equipment contractors.
Day labor employment services account for another 22,350 workers.
Surprisingly, less than 5,000 work in ship and boat building, a significant employer in Coastal Mississippi and Virginia’s Chesapeake Bay area.
Years of Experience and Salary
In the first place position as the largest employer of electricians in the United States, California employs 65,870, followed by Texas, with 52,580.
Florida, New York, and Ohio have the third through the fifth-largest number of electricians.
At the low end, beginning apprentices make around $17.80 hourly or $37,020 per year, while first-year journeymen earn $22.55 or $46,900.
A fourth-year journeyman or beginning Master might command $27.87 to $37.19 per hour, while accomplished Masters make upwards of $47.98 or $99.800 annually.
Natural gas distribution control positions command the highest salaries among the most specialized areas electricians might work in: $104,920 every year.
Job Growth Trends
Electricians can expect a stable employment outlook with nine percent anticipated growth in the electrical field through 2030, slightly higher than all occupations combined and nearly twice the increase of all workers in construction trades.
Between the solar and wind power generation industries and the massive push for hybrid and all-electric vehicles, electricians who opt for training in alternate power sources can expect better employment prospects than those who focus only on traditional energy source power production and distribution.
Pros of Being an Electrician
1. Steady demand for workers
Retiring electrical workers will account for most of the attrition in the field through 2030.
A push to retrofit homes to accommodate charging stations and changing technology needs will also stabilize prospects.
2. Avoid student loan debt
Since apprentices can start working during or immediately after high school, you will have the time and money to open your shop or invest in the safety equipment necessary to perform flawlessly.
3. Upselling and suggested selling
If you learn to make upsells and recommend additional work that could improve the electrical system in the home to accommodate gaming systems, plasma TV use, or hobbies, you will always have a steady stream of income.
You are already in the home or building; why not maximize your profit margin on each trip?
4. Helping friends and family
Whether you do the work yourself or make recommendations, you can save money for those you love.
Take care not to become the only person your family uses, however.
Instead, charge a fair yet discounted price if you wind up doing the job.
5. Decent wages
An inexperienced electrician’s helper in Mississippi will make $26,041 per year, rising to $34,660 as you gain years in service.
Top-performing Master Electricians, in contrast, command $268,002 at the height of their careers.
Over time, bonuses, and tuition reimbursement combine to make electrician pay attractive.
In addition, the use of a company truck and a fuel card, for example, saves wear and tear on your vehicle.
Instead of leaving your wages at the gas pump, your salary remains.
7. Paid training
Most contractors and companies that need electricians will pay to train you to their requirements, unlike other professions.
Staying out of student loan debt provides peace of mind and speeds your journey to success.
Cons of Being an Electrician
1. Advancement requires training and time
With apprenticeships taking up to five years, this profession demands as much time as pursuing a Master’s degree.
Nevertheless, tuition reimbursement and paid apprenticeship ensure that you earn income from day one forward.
2. Physically demanding duties
Working in small, enclosed spaces indoors or outside in cold or inclement weather takes a toll on your body, no matter how young and healthy you may be when you begin your apprenticeship.
3. Hazardous conditions
Falling from ladders or truck buckets, accidental electrocution, burns, and repetitive motion injuries.
The current from touching a frayed cord on a power drill is 30 times the current that will cause a rapid, irregular heartbeat leading to death in just a few minutes.
Keep a defibrillator close at hand and train every crew member to use it.
4. Remote work is not an option
Although you can diagnose an electrical problem using a thermal scanner, borescope, or snake camera before deconstructing a workspace for access, most of the actual work must take place in person, hands-on.
5. Huge financial liabilities
Faulty wiring causes fires, leading to the loss of the home and its people.
If the Fire Marshall determines that faulty wiring leads to deaths or damage, victims could sue you for millions.
In addition, insurance and bond limits may bankrupt you or your company unless you carry sufficient umbrella coverage, which can eat into your income and working capital.
6. You will constantly need skill upgrades
Whether you have to retest periodically to maintain your license or learn a specific technique, working as an electrician will require constant classroom time.
7. Difficulty advancing
You may become stuck at a lower level than you would like if you cannot pass specific tests or renew your current license.
In addition, high retirement rates from the electrical field have caused 47 percent of electrical contractors to worry about finding trained, skilled staff.
Pros and Cons of Being an Electrician – Summary Table
|Pros of Being an Electrician||Cons of Being an Electrician|
|1. Steady demand for workers||1. Advancement requires training and time|
|2. Avoid student loan debt||2. Physically demanding duties|
|3. Upselling and suggested selling||3. Hazardous conditions|
|4. Helping friends and family||4. Remote work is not an option|
|5. Decent wages||5. Huge financial liabilities|
|6. Benefits||6. You will constantly need skill upgrades|
|7. Paid training||7. Difficulty advancing|
Should You Become an Electrician?
Need for Specialized Technical Training
The stable job availability through 2030 makes a career as an electrician wise.
Specializing in high-tech smart home electrical installation will create the largest pool of available work, requiring acquiring new digital skills.
Paid training programs such as the Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee through IBEW – NECA help keep working electricians on track to move from apprentice to journeyman to master in an orderly, constantly-progressing fashion.
Apprenticeships should last no longer than five years before readiness for journeyman status.
After 2000 hours of on-the-job training and satisfactory classroom performance, students receive their first bump in pay.
Every 1500 hours after that, second-year through fifth-year students who continue to shine in their classrooms receive an additional raise.
Reaching Journeyman Wireman status requires 8000 hours of on-the-job training with no safety incidents or serious mistakes.
The path from apprentice to journeyman requires a minimum five-year commitment.
That corresponds to 55 hours of college courses.
Electricians often work out of state in response to weather emergencies resulting in downed wires and blown transformers.
Know ahead of time which states honor reciprocal licensure agreements.
Always maintain required bonds and post licenses prominently at your work site.
Also, keep the correct, up-to-date forms on file with the state or locality that regulates your industry.
Finally, only you know the total time commitment you will voluntarily make to acquire and maintain the skills that keep you at the top.
Always factor any in-class time into your calculations of the actual price in dollars of your professional education against any wages you might have earned.
The difference constitutes the opportunity cost of those lost wages in real dollars.