Wiring Up Your Electrician's Career
Traditionally, most skilled laborers who wanted to work in the electrical trades entered lengthy apprenticeships to hone their skills. Once on the job, they began at the beginning, drilling holes for conduit and connecting wiring and outlets. Each of the four apprenticeship years included 2,000 hours of on-the-job learning, along with 144 hours in the classroom.
Today, many would-be electrical contractors begin their classroom training before entering an apprenticeship because grads often begin their careers at higher levels and matching pay rates than those who simply start as apprentices.
Online vocational-technical schools and colleges offer hands-on training in math, job safety, component installation, blueprint reading, and other accelerated classwork to prepare students for the electrical installation and maintenance trades.
Here are some significant facts about the profession:
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts especially good job opportunities for electricians who are trained in the latest voice, data, and video wiring technologies. Many electricians will also retire in the next decade, further increasing job growth.
Apprentices will need at least a high school diploma or GED to take entry-level positions, however employers prefer applicants with additional schooling.
Once beyond apprenticeship, electricians often are required to pass a battery of licensing tests covering The National Electrical Code, state uniform codes, and local building regulations.
Where they work
In 2006, approximately 705,000 electricians held jobs, with almost 70 percent of them employed by construction companies. The rest were self employed, or worked as maintenance electricians.
Apprentices earn upwards of 50 percent of fully trained electricians, with regular increases awarded during training or with experience. The average hourly wage for electricians in 2006 fell between $16.07 and $27.71.
Unions representing electrical workers
Electricians may become members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; or the International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.