- Electricians earn an average of $22.32 per hour
- Maintenance electricians are sometimes required to be on call for emergencies
- Most states require electricians to be licensed
What do electricians do?
If you've ever lost power you already know that without electricians, we'd all spend our nights playing board games by candlelight. Sure, it's entertaining to "rough it" for a little while, but going without conveniences like air conditioning, lights, and our electronic gadgets gets very old, very fast. Electricians are the people who keep us plugged into the conveniences of modern life.
Electricians read blueprints, solve complex math problems and install electrical systems (all while adhering to numerous electrical and building codes). If you enjoy exercising your brain while working with your hands, then a job as an electrician may be right for you! Just keep in mind that if you're accident prone you may want to think twice about a career in electricity; electricians have a higher than average rate of work-related injury.
Due to extensive job training, most electricians are qualified to choose among a variety of work environments including construction, electrical maintenance, commercial, residential and contracting.
How much do electricians make?
Electrical workers make an average of $22.32 per hour. Apprentice electricians start out earning 30 to 50 percent of the salary of an experienced electrician in their area, with periodic pay increases matching their skill development. Earnings also depend on specialty; electric power generation, transmission and distribution specialists take home almost $29 per hour, while nonresidential building construction electricians can expect to make closer to $22 per hour.
Approximately one third of electricians employed in the United States belong to a union, most often the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
What are the education requirements?
Training to become an electrician usually takes about four years and involves an apprenticeship that combines on-the-job training and classes. Apprenticeship programs are typically sponsored by either electrical contracting companies, local chapters of the Associated Builders and Contractors or the Independent Electrical Contractors Association. Apprentices are required to have a high school diploma or General Equivalency Diploma (G.E.D.).
All electricians should expect to maintain current knowledge of the National Electric Code throughout their careers. Additional training may also be required to cover specific topics that apply to individual branches of the electrical trade.
Career paths for electricians
Experienced electricians can become supervisors, project managers or construction superintendents. If you are interested in advancing an electrical career in construction, being familiar with Spanish will give you an edge communicating with a workforce increasingly made up of Spanish-speaking workers. Electricians can choose to pursue additional training as master electricians, particularly if they are interested in becoming contractors. Solar, wind and other alternative energy training is also increasingly available for those who want to specialize in "green" electrical jobs.
The future of electrical workers
The BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) forecasts average growth in electrical positions over the 2008-2018 decade. Maintenance electricians are less subject to layoffs and slow seasonal hours than those working in construction and manufacturing, but as more commercial industries turn to automated systems there will be an increased demand for electricians to install and maintain wiring. Electricians who specialize in environmentally friendly technology will also enjoy new job opportunities as public and private building owners invest in energy saving measures.
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