Electrician install, repair, and maintain electrical wiring and systems. They may specialize in one or more areas, such as residential, commercial, or industrial. This career is suited to people who enjoy working with their hands and have a good understanding of electrical engineering concepts. In addition to practical knowledge, electricians must be able to read and interpret blueprints and other technical documents.
An aspiring electrician should begin preparation for this career in high school. A high grade point average in upper-level math and science classes is essential. Participating in extracurricular activities, clubs, camps, or internships related to electrical engineering will also help. An associate degree from a community college can be useful, especially if it includes an electrical distribution theory course.
Some electricians learn the trade through an apprenticeship. This involves 144 hours per year of formal training, where they study technical information and safety practices. In addition, they must complete 2,000 hours of on-the-job experience each year. Some apprenticeship programs are run by local unions, while others are organized through private employers.
Once an electrician has completed their apprenticeship, they must pass a state exam. These tests cover topics such as the National Electrical Code, safety practices, and basic electrical knowledge. In addition, some states require electricians to obtain a license.
Many electricians work for themselves as independent contractors or consultants. These professionals must be able to meet client needs and complete projects on time. They must be comfortable communicating with customers, providing quotes, and answering questions about products and services. They also need to be physically fit to perform strenuous tasks for extended periods of time, such as standing or kneeling for long periods while installing or repairing equipment.
While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts slower-than-average job growth for this field through 2028, there are opportunities available. In addition to traditional electrician positions, contractors can find jobs in fields such as power generation, telecommunications, and energy management.
Those who work as linemen are often away from home for extended periods of time, which can be difficult if they have children or other family members that rely on them. They can also be exposed to dangerous conditions, such as lightning strikes.
For these reasons, becoming a lineman isn’t for everyone. Nevertheless, it is an excellent career choice for those who want to work outdoors and enjoy challenging work. It requires training, commitment, and a willingness to wonder about how flat screen TVs manage to be so energy efficient or how Las Vegas casinos can use so much electricity without blowing fuses. Those who choose this career also need to be prepared to travel to various locations as needed. It’s not unusual for a lineman to be out of town for a few days or even weeks at a time. This career is also suited to people who enjoy working with their own hands and like being self-employed. For these reasons, it’s a great choice for those who don’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a college education.