With a world that is so heavily reliant on electricity, the role of the electrician has become more important than ever. This career path can lead to a wide variety of jobs that will be in demand for years to come, but many are unsure of where this process begins. For those who are on the search for their own profession, here is a look at exactly what an electrician does on a day-to-day basis, their job options, how much training is needed, and a look at potential salary in the coming years.
The Basics of an Electrician
The requirements for working as an electrician not only changes between each state; it can also change according to the company or organization that an individual is working for. As their primary job, electricians install, repair, and maintain the power systems leading into buildings and within the buildings themselves. Electricians generally work full-time, but it is common to move into overtime as well, depending on the final career path that the employee decides upon.
Types of Electricians
After training, these specialists can move into a wide variety of professions and jobs, but the average electrician is going to work in one of three environments. The residential electrician focuses on power systems that are designed for residential property within homes. These individuals are often contracted through larger construction companies for custom installations as well as repairs on existing systems. Commercial electricians carry out many of the same day-to-day jobs, but do them exclusively in commercial and industrial settings and tend to focus on custom installations more than repairs. Industrial electricians work in harsher conditions and install, maintain, and repair electrical systems in industrial facilities such as power plants. Linemen are the electricians that work closely with the power lines and grids in order to get power to residential or commercial property.
Training and Schooling
As with any other skilled trade, becoming a certified electrician involves a number of steps, beginning with acquiring a high school degree or GED. The student will then want to find a vocational or trade school that will teach them basic theories and principals, and upon graduation they will become a certified electrician. From there, electricians transition into an apprenticeship program to eventually become a journeyman and finally a master electrician. This period can take seven years or longer, and the electrician will need to take both national and state tests in order to become certified. Once the electrician has become a journeyman or master, and is licensed, they will be able to legally work in the state of their licensing.
Salary and Career Paths
Electricians can work as a full-time employee, by project, or exclusively as an outside contractor, each of which comes with pay and benefits. While the pay does go up each year, the median salary for a journeyman electrician was just under $50,000 annually in 2012 and 2013. The highest salary was close to $80,000 per year for master electricians working in a private company.