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Journeyman Electrician: Job Outlook & Career Info

Learn about the work responsibilities of a journeyman electrician. Explore educational requirements, necessary skills, employment outlook and salary to decide if this is the right career option. Also, learn about additional career options in the electrical field.

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Career Definition of a Journeyman Electrician

A journeyman electrician works to allow electricity to flow throughout homes, businesses and factories by installing and maintaining the wiring, fuses and other components through which electricity is carried. Residential homes typically call for simple rewiring to accommodate additional appliances or remodeling projects, while factories need maintenance and repair of high voltage electric systems that run machinery. Conversely, skyscrapers and office towers require in-depth knowledge of strict building codes and special wiring procedures mandated to ensure the safety of these complex structures, according to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, www.ibew.org.

Education Trade or technical college program in electrical theory, apprenticeship
Job Skills Math proficiency, manual dexterity, hand-eye coordination, problem-solving
Median Annual Salary (2015) $51,880 for electricians
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 14% job growth for electricians

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Required Education

The training to become a journeyman electrician is rigorous. Electrical errors could mean death for thousands should a fire break out in a skyscraper. Therefore, the title of Journeyman Electrician is held in high esteem. Most learn their trade through apprenticeship programs offered by unions, including the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), www.ibew.org. Competition for the small number of apprenticeships is fierce, and many find it helpful to first study electrical theory at a trade or technical college. Apprentices must work under the supervision of a master or journeyman electrician for three to seven years, depending upon previous experience and desired level of specialization. Most programs provide a nominal salary to the apprentice during their training. Upon successful completion of the apprenticeship, journeymen electricians are permitted to perform all types of electrical work. However, they must first be licensed based on the regulations of the state in which they reside, according to the IBEW, www.ibew.org.

Required Skills

Electricians should have an aptitude for math and possess good manual dexterity and eye-hand coordination in order to work with small wires in tight spaces. Creative problem solving skills are also helpful when working in the field.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, reported that the demand for electricians should increase 14% from 2014-2024, which is a good deal faster than the average for other jobs. Qualified electricians continue to be in need as home and business wiring demands continue. In 2015, the median annual salary of an electrician was $51,880.

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Alternative Careers

If you are interested in additional careers in the electrical industry, and you would consider additional education, you might want to look at becoming an electrical engineering tech or electrical engineer.

Electrical Engineering Technician

For those interested in building, evaluating and repairing electrical devices and systems, becoming an electrical engineering technician could be a good fit. These technicians take design specifications from engineers and use them to assemble electrical components and construct prototypes. They also perform extensive testing, make design modifications and create drawings. Earning an associate degree in electrical engineering technology is how most enter the profession, and many choose to gain a competitive advantage by pursuing professional certification from an organization such as the National Institute for Certification in Engineering Technologies. Although the BLS predicts a 2% decline in employment for electrical engineering technicians between 2014 and 2024, jobs can be found in government, research labs and in the utilities industry. Also according to the BLS, electrical and electronics engineering techs made $61,130 as a median annual salary in 2015.

Electrical Engineer

If designing electrical devices like navigation systems, automotive electronics or power generators sounds interesting, consider becoming an electrical engineer. Duties of these engineers include coming up with product ideas, supervising production and testing activities, preparing design specifications, creating manufacturing instructions and ensuring that work falls within budget and time constraints. To qualify for employment, a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering or a related field is required, and many engineers could find more opportunities with a professional engineer (PE) license. In 2015, electrical and electronics engineers earned a median annual salary of $95,230, per the BLS. This profession is projected to have little to no change in employment outlook during the 2014-2024 decade.

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