Electrician

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Wireman

Job Description

Electricians install and maintain electrical systems in homes, businesses, and factories.

Rewarding Aspects of Career
  • “I build something every day that you can see and touch.”
  • A sense of accomplishment when you finish a project
  • Autonomy: You can work as much and as little as you want. It’s project-based.
    • Typically you start at 6:30am-3:30pm: Able to do other projects in the afternoon.
  • Work with your hands!: “When you are mechanically inclined, the trades are excellent for that.”
The Inside Scoop
Job Responsibilities
  • Reads blueprints or technical diagrams before doing work.
  • Installs and maintains wiring and lighting systems.
  • Inspects electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers.
  • Identifies electrical problems with a variety of testing devices.
  • Repairs or replaces wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools.
  • Follows state and local building regulations based on the National Electric Code.
  • Directs and trains workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment.
Different types of electricians
  • Outside linemen: Installs the distribution and transmission lines that move power from a power plant to a factory, a business, or your home.
  • Inside Wireman: Installs the power, lighting, controls and other electrical equipment in commercial and industrial buildings.
  • VDV Installer Technician: Installs circuits and equipment for telephones, computer networks, video distribution systems, security and access control systems and other low voltage systems.
  • Residential Wiremen: Installs electrical systems in single-family and multi-family houses or dwellings.
Skills Needed on the Job
  • Math skills
  • Drafting skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Spatial intelligence
  • Dexterity, hand-eye coordination
  • Physically fit
  • Good balance
  • Color vision: dangerous to be color blind
  • Troubleshooting skills
  • Customer service
Where do they work?
  • Electrical and wiring installation contractor company: Range from mom and pop shop (4-8 electricians) to large shops (200+ electricians)
    • Residential: home building
    • Commercial: malls, office buildings
    • Industrial: refineries, chemical plants, power plants
  • Ancillary
    • Manufacturer
    • Building Superintendent/Stationery Engineer
    • Building Inspector
Work Environment
  • Indoors and outdoors
  • Might work with noisy machinery in factories
  • Might work in cramped spaces
  • Physical: Requires a lot of lifting, bending, kneeling, and stretching.
Why become a union electrician?
  • Union negotiates competitive rates: mostly likely double or triple non-union rates
  • Full medical benefits (medical, dental, vision)
  • Pension
  • Annuity
  • Protection from discrimination and being out of work due to injury
  • Access to better jobs and amazing opportunities
  • Helmets to Hardhats program: Connects quality men and women from the Armed Forces with promising building and construction careers.
Expectations/Sacrifices Necessary
  • Dangerous: common risks include electrical shocks and burns, cuts, and falls.
  • Irregular work schedule: Sometimes might work really early in the morning. Sometimes at night.
  • Might have to drive long distances for job site.
2016 Employment
666,900
2026 Projected Employment
726,500
Education and Training Needed
  • HS Diploma or GED mandatory
    • Must have completed 1 full year of high school algebra with minimum grade of “C” or 1 semester of college algebra with minimum grade of “C”.
  • 4-5 year apprenticeship program
    • Includes technical training and paid-on-the-job training
    • In the classroom, apprentices learn electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices. They also may receive specialized training related to soldering, communications, fire alarm systems, and elevators.
    • Because of this comprehensive training, those who complete apprenticeship programs qualify to do both construction and maintenance work.  
  • Must get licensed in your state.
  • Continuing Education required: Involve instruction related to safety practices, changes to the electrical code, and training from manufacturers in specific products.
Basic requirements for apprenticeship program

Unions and contractors sponsor apprenticeship programs. The basic qualifications to enter an apprenticeship program are as follows:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Driver’s license
  • High school diploma or equivalent (GED or take an aptitude test)
  • Physically able to do the work
  • Minimum grade of “C” for high school or college algebra.
  • Pass drug test
How to find a local apprenticeship program

Click here for a list of programs.

Things to do in high school
  • Classes: English, math (algebra)
  • Shop class and learn about blueprint reading.  
Education Stats
  • 39.7% with HS Diploma
  • 13% with Associate’s
  • 5.9% with Bachelor’s
  • 0.8% with Master’s
  • 0.4% with Doctoral
Typical Roadmap
Electrician roadmap png
How to land your 1st job
  • Finish the apprenticeship program
    • Pay: Start off with 35-50% of journeyman’s wage and increases are usually given every 6 months.
  • Union will give you the signatory list: local union will give you leads and you start making calls to contractors on the list.
  • Contact Job Corps.
  • Ask the local union for help and get on “out of work” list.
Description of the different positions
  • Estimator: Budgets the job then bids on the job.
  • Project Manager: Behind the scenes, paperwork. Make sure request for information is filled out. Money is getting paid. Work in conjunction with Superintendent.
  • Superintendent: Takes care of the manpower needs on a jobsite. Materials and workers.
  • Foreman: Takes care of the job.
How to stay competitive and climb the ladder
  • Dedication
  • Person who is best with tools and the union elevates these people.
  • Leader/Teacher: someone who knows the craft so well and they teach others.
  • Keeping up with new technologies and methods
Plan B

Related Careers: Electrical Engineering Technician, Elevator Installer/Repairer, HVAC Technician, Line Installer

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Source: Interview, Bureau of Labor Statistics

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