We no longer live in a society where traditional four-year diplomas are required to make a decent form of living. Rather one can skip the cost of a college education and become a skilled tradesman which can generate income in a fraction of the time. A career as an electrician is just that and with electrical work being a modern-day necessity means there are many job opportunities and a competitive salary.
What is an electrician and what does one do?
Some say money keeps the lights on but in reality, electricians do. When not fixing power outages, an electrician is responsible for installing electricity where individuals and businesses can use it. There are numerous job responsibilities an electrician can have depending on their experience and licensing. While responsibilities vary, most will plan electrical systems in new buildings, install lighting systems and control systems, inspect old electrical systems, troubleshoot, repair or inspect malfunctions, and train and manage other electrical workers. Depending on your qualifications you can become a journeyman, master electrician, independent electrical contractor, commercial electrician, or industrial electrician.
Basic Qualifications Needed to Become an Electrician
- Must be at least 18-years-old
- Must have a high school diploma or GED
- Understanding of electrical skills
- Understanding of mathematical and science
- Good comprehension skills
- Customer service skills
- Physical Strength
Trade school or Apprenticeship Program
Once you meet the basic requirements needed to become an electrician the next step is to attend a trade school or become an electrician apprentice.
In a trade school, you will not only study the material through electrical theory but will also partake in hands-on experiences. There you will learn the key foundational skills you will need to know as an electrician. This is great for those who learn best in a classroom environment and want to learn from experienced teachers alongside other peers.
If an in-classroom environment isn’t for you, some states will allow you to become an apprentice to a licensed electrician. We recommend you check with your state’s licensing board before deciding which path is correct for you. If you do choose this track, you will be enrolled in an electrical apprentice training program for approximately four years. While this is longer than trade school you will begin work immediately under the supervision of a skilled professional in the field.
If you do choose this route, you will have to decide which electrical specialty is right for you. Some choices include: inside/outside lineman, residential/corporate wireman, installation technician, maintenance electrician, repair electrician and an automotive electrician.
Once you complete the 8,000 hours needed in the United States to become a general electrician you will be required to take a state-approved test to become licensed in your area.
You may be wondering how much electricians make versus other trade jobs. While this varies on one's level and experience, electricians can make up to six figures. However a starting salary may only be around $22/hr. Don’t make this defer you from entering the field because electrician salaries are known to increase sharply early on in an electrician's career. After a few years of experience, electricians can make around 50,000 dollars annually and even more in high cost of living areas.