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Looking for a skilled trade with excellent job potential? The demand for well-trained electricians is strong and growing. ElectricalSchool.org can help you find the best training option for you, and help you achieve your vocational ambition of becoming an electrician. Search by state to find electrician classes, state license requirements, job prospects, salary data and more.
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What is it Like to Work as an Electrician?
If you’re looking into the skilled trades for your first career or for a career change, you have probably looked at becoming an electrician. This is a high-demand career with growth at nine percent, faster than average job growth. It’s also a job that pays well, because it requires special skills and a few years of education and training. When thinking about this career for your future, be sure you know what it’s like to work as an electrician and what these professionals do from day to day on the job.
Types of Electricians and Where They Work
Most electricians, about two-thirds, work for electrical contractors or are the owners of those contracting companies. These electricians offer a variety of electrical services, including installation of wiring in new buildings and maintenance and repairs of existing electrical systems. Electricians may be residential, commercial or both. Residential electricians work in homes, while commercial electricians work in larger, commercial buildings.
With special training, an electrician may also work as a line installer or repairer. These workers install and repair the power systems and telecommunication cables that run outside homes and businesses. They do most of their work outside, often high off the ground in cherry pickers or by climbing telephone poles.
What Electricians Do on the Job
The daily duties of an electrician depend on the exact job, position level and type of work environment, but in general the bulk of an electrician’s day is spent doing hands-on work with electrical systems. Some typical, everyday duties of an electrician include:
- Reading and interpreting technical drawings, diagrams and blueprints
- Installing electrical systems and components, including wiring and lighting
- Maintaining electrical systems and making repairs
- Inspecting the components of an electrical system and wiring to make sure they work and meet codes
- Identifying problems with components and wiring that need to be fixed
- Using tools
- Following national codes and state and local regulations for wiring and electrical components
- Overseeing other electricians and guiding their work
- Training and working with electrical apprentices
Electricians who are in a supervisory role may have more responsibilities, including designing and planning electrical components and wiring for a new building.
The Work Environment
Most electricians work inside, but even for residential and commercial electricians it is sometimes necessary to make some repairs or do installations on the exterior of a building or home. Line repairers and installers mostly work outside in all kinds of weather conditions. Electricians of all types need to drive from job to job, so having a reliable car or truck is necessary, and jobs may sometimes require long drives.
For all electricians, the bulk of the work is physical and hands-on. There is a lot of standing but also crouching, kneeling and fitting into uncomfortable, small spaces. Electricians may also work in industrial settings with a lot of loud noises. Injuries are possible in this career, including burns, shocks or falls. Some electricians work in groups or teams and collaborate with other construction professionals, while others mostly work alone.
Working Hours for Electricians
As an electrician, the hours you work will depend on your particular job. Those who are focused mostly on maintenance can rely on steady hours and a regular 40-hour work week. For most electricians, though, the hours can vary widely, even for each individual. You will often be working on a project basis, so you may be on one job for months or another for just one day. Jobs may be plentiful one month and few the next.
If you have been thinking of becoming an electrician, it’s important to know what to expect. This is a great job for anyone willing to put in the training and coursework and who is prepared to do hands-on, sometimes physically demanding work.