what is an electrician?
An electrician is a skilled craftsman who works on electrical wiring for buildings and other structures. For safety reasons, it's essential to prevent risks with electrical wiring and components. A poor wiring system is hazardous and could eventually lead to an injury or fire. This position requires you to know safety measures, have solid math and mechanical skills, and understand electrical tools and materials.
To start, electricians need a high school diploma or GED. You can attend a university or trade school to gather the knowledge, experience, and certifications you'll need to start working. Going to school isn't required, but some states allow you to count parts of your education as on-the-job training.
Next, you'll apply for an apprenticeship through a trade school, union, or non-union contractor. You'll engage in classes and job site training while a master electrician mentors you. Once you've gathered enough experience, you'll take an exam to get certified.
You'll become a journeyman once you're working independently without supervision. After working independently for several years, you'll earn the master electrician title. A master electrician trains apprentices and has the skills to work virtually anywhere.
You'll have steady work as an electrician to install, maintain, and repair electrical wiring for commercial, industrial, and residential buildings. In addition, some electricians continue to study and work on specialty electrical systems, such as ships, airplanes, and other mobile structures.
With data and computing technologies growing, electricians also find work on data and cable lines. There are frequent job openings due to the growth in construction and vacancies resulting from retirement, promotions, etc.
Would working as an electrician suit your aptitude for mechanics and knowledge of electrical components? Then read on to find out what competencies and qualifications you need to thrive in an electrician role.electrician jobs near you
average electrician salary
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians earn an average of $60,000 per year. Pay ranges from $37,000 on the lowest end to $99,000 at the highest. Government workers earn some of the highest salaries.
An electrician's salary usually depends on experience level. For instance, an apprentice's salary is considerably less than that of a journeyman or master electrician, but so are the risks. The master electrician and the journeyman determine the pay the apprentice will receive when making the contract.
The nature of electrical work is hazardous. Specific jobs require different levels of precision compared to others, and there is no room for error. A higher difficulty level usually results in a higher payment due to higher risks.
Some industry sectors also pay electricians more due to the complexity of their work. For instance, electricians working in manufacturing industries repairing motors and transformers are likely to earn more than installation electricians.
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types of electricians
An electrician goes through an apprenticeship, followed by journeyman and master electrician roles. You'll choose one of these five specialties in the field:
- installation electrician: as an installation electrician, you install and lay down wiring fixtures and equipment. You'll install wires to commercial buildings and residences and connect them to transformers and breakers. You also make sure the connections are safe.
- outside lineman: an outside lineman works on power lines, both overhead and underground. Your job is to repair and install electrical lines. You also check meters to ensure they work properly.
- automotive electrician or auto electrician: your job involves wiring ignition systems, heating and air conditioning systems, and anti-lock brakes to ensure they work properly.
- industrial electrician: you ensure electrical components in a manufacturing company function properly. You'll perform installation and maintenance duties.
- maintenance electrician: you focus on keeping electrical systems up to standard in commercial, residential, and industrial settings. Expect to test voltages and repair faulty wiring.
working as an electrician
Most people know the basics of working as an electrician. However, many don't realize that it's a physically demanding job. If you're looking for a career to keep yourself busy and are willing to put in some hard work, this is a good fit.
electrician skills and education
Some of the ways of becoming an electrician include:
- college: pursuing a college course equips you with practical skills and technical knowledge for the role. You can learn about tools, blueprints, technology, electrical theory, and more from a trade school.
- apprenticeship: through apprenticeship programs, you gain training and experience with a journeyman and master electrician. An apprentice should accumulate several hundred hours of on-the-job experience before becoming a journeyman. Contractors and business owners prefer experienced electricians.
- work experience: when you have post-secondary qualifications, you need to improve your experience levels to succeed in the role. Internships and vocational programs give you relevant experience.
skills and competencies
You need the following hard skills and soft skills to succeed in an electrician role:
- technical electrician skills: as an electrician, you need technical skills to complete your work. Apart from safety knowledge, electricians should have standard skills in installing cables, using power tools, and repairing equipment.
- teamwork skills: as an electrician, you need some essential soft skills such as teamwork skills like communication and patience. People skills help you collaborate with others during a project. You can provide clear instructions and listen to constructive feedback from other team members.
- problem-solving skills: as an electrician, you face multiple challenges that should be resolved promptly. You need problem-solving skills to rectify the problems and avoid further issues.
- physical skills: as an electrician, you need physical strength to lift heavy weights, climb ladders and scaffolding, or stand for an extended period. Physical fitness reduces the chances of injury. Good vision is also crucial due to the color-coded nature of electrical wiring.
FAQs about working as an electrician
Here you will find answers to the most frequently asked questions about electricians.