The Pros and Cons of Becoming an Electrician
A career as an electrician is one of many options that do not require a four-year college degree, which is a big draw for many young people. It is also a career that provides stability and a good income. There are downsides too, though, and these include years of training, physically demanding work and potential dangers. If you have been weighing your career options and are leaning toward a skilled trade, learn more about a career as an electrician.
Pro: No Degree Required
You can go to a community college or technical college to earn a diploma or two-year degree in electrical technology to start your career as an electrician, but this is not required. Most people entering the field do so by enrolling in an apprenticeship program, usually through a union-based Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, or JATC.
Con: Electrician Apprenticeships Take Years
Although a four-year degree isn’t necessary to become an electrician, you will have to spend four to five years in an apprenticeship program. You can choose between a union program or a non-union program, but any apprenticeship will include between 8,000 and 10,000 hours of on-site job training and work experience, as well as 500 to 1,000 hours of classroom work.
Pro: Work and Earn While You Train
An apprenticeship will take years to complete, but on the other hand it will also allow you to earn a salary while you learn. These programs include hands-on training for which you get paid. It won’t be as much as you’ll earn as a full electrician once training is over, but it does allow you to learn and earn a living at the same time.
Pro: Electrical Work is Varied and Challenging
Electricians are highly-skilled trade workers. They don’t simply do routine, boring work every day on the job; they problem solve, troubleshoot and face new situations and challenges at every job site. If you’re looking for a career that will be interesting and different from day to day, this is a great option. It is not a job that will become boring.
Con: Electrical Work Can Be Dangerous
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians suffer more injuries and illnesses related to their work than the average worker. Electrical work is rarely so dangerous that there are fatal accidents, but it is possible. More commonly, workers may suffer from shocks, burns, falls and similar minor injuries related to workplace accidents.
Pro: Great Salary and Job Outlook
A great reason that many people turn to work as an electrician is that the job growth is strong and the salaries are good. Job growth across the country is currently nine percent, which means there will be tens of thousands of new positions available for qualified electricians in the coming years. In some areas, like larger cities and where construction is booming, the growth in electrical careers is even stronger. The median annual national salary for electricians was $62,940 in 2019. For those earning at the top 10 percent, salaries are over $96,580 per year.
Pro: Opportunities for Self-Employment
If you have always thought you might want to work for yourself or be an entrepreneur, this is a great field to get started. As in other trades such as plumbers, electricians are often self-employed, either working as independent contractors or as owners of small electrical contracting companies that employ other people. As a self-employed electrician, you’ll have the freedom to choose the jobs you want to do and the hours you want to work, as well as how much you earn.
Working as an electrician has its advantages and its disadvantages. If you are looking for a career that is hands-on, that doesn’t require a college degree and that will provide job security and a good salary, consider applying for an electrical apprenticeship.