Electricians install electrical equipment and wire homes and other structures; they may also install power lines that transfer electricity and install electrical systems into homes and commercial buildings. Some areas of specialization include being an outside lineman, inside wireman, or residential wireman. Most states require electricians to be licensed.
Electricians can find work in a variety of settings, including power companies, construction firms and private businesses. Earning an electrician degree or certification can prepare a student to work as a general or maintenance electrician, or in electrical installation and repair.
|Career||Electricians||Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers|
|Education Requirements||Apprenticeship or technical school||Some technical or community school|
|Other Requirements||Licensure required by most states||Voluntary certification is available|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14%||-4%|
|Median Salary (2015)*||$51,880||$55,690 (for installers and repairs in commercial and industrial equipment)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Electricians work with wiring, electrical equipment and component installation in factories, offices and homes. They also work with electrical systems, including heating, air conditioning, lighting and power systems, as well as communications and security systems.
The National Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee (NJATC) notes that electrical workers may be classified as outside linemen, inside wiremen, voice data video installer technicians or residential wiremen. Common duties for these workers and other electricians can include installing lines that transfer electricity, electrical equipment, electrical systems that service low voltage systems and installing electrical systems in homes. Electricians may also replace electrical equipment, test electrical systems, plan electrical wiring installation and ensure a building is in compliance with codes.
Career Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment for electricians would grow by 14% between 2014 and 2024. The BLS notes that this may be due to growth in the construction industry in general and the demand for installers who can work with alternative power sources, such as those linked to the wind and the sun. According to the BLS, electricians earned an annual median salary of $51,880 in 2015. The BLS also anticipated a 4% decrease in employment for electrical and electronics installers and repairers during the same period. Installers and repairers who worked on industrial and commercial equipment earned an annual median salary of $55,690 in 2015, the BLS revealed.
Many electricians start their careers by entering apprenticeship programs. Most of these programs require a high school diploma or GED, as well as an entrance exam and a background in mathematics. Generally, apprentices must be 18 years old or older and able to pass a drug screening.
Associate and bachelor's degree programs are also available for aspiring electricians. Students in these programs, such as the Associate in Occupational Science in Electrical Construction and Instrumentation, Associate of Science in Electrical Technology and Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, may take classes in wiring, tool usage and fundamentals of planning. Some programs also provide training in the National Electrical Code, a comprehensive description of codes and regulations covering the electrical industry.
To earn initial certification, electricians must pass a written and practical exam. The written exam covers career-related topics, such as blueprints, building codes, and safety issues. The practical exam is a chance for new electricians to demonstrate their technical skills by installing equipment within a predetermined amount of time.
Once certified, an electrician can also pursue the master electrician certification, which requires a certain amount of work experience, as determined by the state. For example, Washington requires at least four years of work experience before someone can apply to become a master electrician.
A career as an electrician can start with an apprenticeship or by completing a vocational training program. A background in mathematics is recommended. Professional certification is optional and requires a written and practical exam.