How to Become an Electrician
Electricians work to maintain and repair wiring in residential, commercial and industrial buildings. They also repair and replace appliances, lighting fixtures, motors, and other equipment that uses electricity. They inspect electrical systems to ensure they are safe and comply with building codes and safety standards.
They read blueprints to determine the location of circuits and outlets in a building, then install the wiring using hand and power tools such as conduit benders, wire strippers and drills. They also use voltmeters, ammeters and other testing devices to check connections and ensure the wiring is safe and up to code.
A person who wants to become an electrician must complete a formal training program, usually through an apprenticeship program. These programs require a high school diploma or its equivalent and can take four to five years to complete.
During their apprenticeship, apprentices learn the necessary skills for a career as an electrician by working under the supervision of an experienced electrician. They learn how to set up job sites, collect materials and do other nonelectrical work before learning the electrical aspects of their jobs.
After completing their apprenticeship, they can choose to work as an electrician full time. They may work as independent contractors or work for a company with union representation, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Members pay dues and meet with union representatives to discuss issues that affect their work.
An electrician’s responsibilities depend on their specific specialty, but they all need to be licensed by the state. They must pass a test and prove their knowledge of local and state building codes.
They must know how to operate hand and power tools, such as conduit benders, screwdrivers, pliers, and wire strippers. They also need to understand how to safely perform other electrical tasks, such as reading and understanding blueprints.
Their work requires a strong sense of responsibility and commitment to quality workmanship. They need to be able to solve problems in a timely manner, especially when they face a deadline or emergency.
A career as an electrician can be a rewarding one, and it offers many opportunities for growth. Because technology in the home and office is growing so quickly, electricians are constantly gaining new training to keep up.
In most cases, electricians are paid a wage by the hour. They typically earn between $25,000 and $35,000 a year depending on their work conditions, experience and specialization.
Some electricians earn more, but this can be dependant on their level of expertise and their experience in the field. For example, a master electrician will have spent at least eight years in the field and has passed an exam to demonstrate superior skill in the trade.
Most electricians must be physically fit for their work, since they climb ladders and climb scaffolding to make connections in tight, dark spaces. They often spend long periods of time bending and kneeling, as well as lifting tools, supplies and materials from storage to their work area.