Many people become electricians for the ample job opportunities the profession provides in a variety of industries. Fields such as plumbing, heating and air-conditioning, electric power generation, and motor vehicle parts manufacturing all have need for electricians. Roughly 4 out of 5 electricians are either self-employed or work in construction. Those electricians who have broad ranges of skill and eclectic backgrounds usually fair the best. Arriving at such a level requires much hard work and professional training. Most electricians accrue their experience through apprenticeships which must first be approved by a board and can last up to five years.
Before one makes the decision to become an electrician, it is good to learn what to expect. Electricians’ rates range from less than $17.00 to more than $35.00 per hour. This rate depends on the industry and the amount of experience of the worker. The job of an electrician can also be physically demanding. A typical schedule may include working nights and weekends. Some are even on call 24 hours a day. The work itself involves a variety of tasks, including reading blueprints, ensuring public safety, and sometimes even training other electricians. However, electricians spend most of their time installing, maintaining, and repairing things like wiring, fuses, transformers, and other electrical systems in homes or large facilities such as factories.
The following are just a few of the typical tools electricians use on the job:
- Wire cutter
- Allen wrench
- Keyhole saw
- Adapter cables
- Hand drill
- Pipe wrench
- Wire stripper
- Block and tackle
- Wood chisel
An electrician’s work done in large factories is usually more complex. These electricians often work along side engineers, technicians, and mechanics, depending on the project. Because of the close proximity to high-voltage electrical systems, the work environment of an electrician can often be dangerous. Electricians must follow strict safety codes to protect themselves and others from electrical shock.
Becoming A Licensed Electrician
Licensing requirements vary from state to state. In general, to become a licensed electrician, one’s skill, physical and mental aptitude, community involvement, and school performance must first be evaluated by an admissions board. This board will decide whether or not that person will be granted an apprenticeship. These apprenticeships are funded by various related organizations and companies. All together, an electrician must have several years of on-the-job training experience under a master electrician, several hours of classroom instruction, and the successful completion of at least one required exam. The specific number of logged hours toward such a licensure depends on the type of license desired. Typically, one year of training, or apprenticeship, includes about 2,000 hours of on-the-job training and 144 hours in the classroom.
On-the-job training is always completed under the supervision of a master electrician, who instructs the student and approves his or her progress. The pay rate is usually decreased by 50% and climbs steadily as the student advances. The classroom training teaches theory, blueprints, and safety requirements, among other things. The main exam for most electricians across the country tests on electric and building codes, the National Electrical Code, and electrical theory.
Electrician contractors licenses are granted to those businesses that carry out electrical work. Several requirements apply, however. The company must obtain and hold a valid license, be owned by or employ at least one master electrician at all times, and have a significant amount of liability and property damage insurance.
The typical duties of an electrician contractor include ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved by following strict electrical safety codes, upholding employment standards, and practicing proper business mandates according to the state.
No matter which venture one decides to follow, proper research and preparation is key. Starting early will jump start a successful career as a licensed electrician or an electrician contractor.