No college education is required to become an electrician, but significant training takes place through an apprenticeship program, which provides in-class and hands-on instruction. They can be employed in a number of electrical jobs or work freelance, both of which mandate licensure.
Electricians help bring power to residences, commercial areas and industrial complexes by installing and fixing electrical wiring and components. Electricians might specialize in construction or repair, though they often perform both functions. Electricians usually go through an apprenticeship.
|Required Education||High school diploma or equivalent|
|Other Requirements||State licensing|
|Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)*||14% (much faster than average)|
|Average Salary (2015)*||$55,590|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Electricians usually gain career training through an apprenticeship program. Some electricians begin the training process by attending a classroom-based vocational program or serving as an electrician's helper; however, these electricians often go on to complete apprenticeships.
Candidates who hold a high school diploma or the equivalent might apply to become apprentices through various unions, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers or the National Electrical Contractors Association. Completion of these four-year programs allows apprentices to become journeymen and work on both construction and repair projects.
Apprentices receive approximately 600 hours of in-class instruction on safety principles, electrical circuits and blueprint reading. Aside from learning in the classroom, apprentices receive on-the-job training under the supervision of experienced electricians. Apprentices might practice wiring outlets and soldering electrical components.
Electricians might work for utility companies, construction firms or service providers. Electricians in different industries have varying job duties. For example, maintenance electricians working for factories might be required to service and repair assembly lines, while construction electricians who work on remodeling homes might need to install switches and rewire lighting.
Electricians in most states must be licensed by their respective state board. Licensing requirements generally include completing a qualifying test on electrical applications and building codes. The BLS notes that self-employed electricians working as contractors might need to earn a separate contractor's license and complete a bachelor's degree program in electrical engineering or a related field.
Job Outlook and Salary Information
The BLS stated that opportunities for electricians were expected to increase by 14% between 2014 and 2024. The bureau also noted that employment is very sensitive to economic swings, so electricians might find themselves unemployed when the number of construction projects decrease.
In May 2015, the BLS reported that the average annual wage for electricians was $55,590. Electricians in the 90th percentile or higher earned $88,130 or more per year, whereas the bottom tenth percentile earned $31,410 or less per year.
To become a qualified electrician, you must first complete a rather lengthy apprenticeship training program, and then get licensed. Then, you can go on to specialize in a specific area, work in various industries, or be self-employed.