Electricians are the professionals that wire homes, buildings and industrial plants for electrical appliances and equipment. They build an electrical infrastructure by installing wires, junction boxes, switches and outlets during the construction phase. They also install chandeliers and wall mounted lights as well as outdoor lighting and fixtures.
In industrial settings, electricians often run conduit and pull wire through it to create a larger, protected internal structure. Electricians may replace switches and old electrical wiring in older buildings with modern equipment that is up to code. They calculate the amount of electricity needed in a home or building and install the appropriate breaker boxes. Many times they are working off of blueprints for wire routing and for the breaker configuration.
Electricians learn their trade through a four year apprenticeship program sponsored by union locals of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or by an electrical contractors association. Most states require a license and completion of an exam that tests electrical proficiency.
There are requirements for 144 hours of classroom work per year, and many apprentice electricians pursue the academic work before entering into apprenticeship training. Courses are taught at vocational schools and community colleges and through online institutions.
There were 705,000 electricians working in the United States in 2006, according to the Department of Labor. Sixty eight percent were employed in the construction industry.
While growth in this field is expected to be average, the employment opportunities should be excellent as new and existing buildings require more power on a periodic basis because of new technology being utilized in the workplace.
Lowest 10% $13.14 $27,330
Median Salary $21.52 $44,780
Highest 10% $36.54 $76,000
Source: U.S. Department of Labor