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Considering becoming an electrician? Be sure to read this first! Here we cover everything from what electricians do to how to become an electrician by attending electrician trade school. We hope this information helps you make a career decision that positively impacts your life!

  • [Jump to section]
  • What do electricians do?
  • Why are electricians important?
  • Where do electricians work?
  • What kinds of tools do electricians use on the job?
  • How do you become an electrician?
  • What is the job outlook for electricians?

What do electricians do?

  • Electricians repair, install and maintain electrical systems in a variety of settings. The work they perform keeps lights on in shops, machines running in factories, and computers functioning in offices.
  • Typical responsibilities for electricians include:
    • Reading and interpreting blueprints or other technical drawings/diagrams
    • Install, maintain and repair lighting systems
    • Identify electrical issues using specialized testing devices
    • Inspect electrical components for potential problems or hazards
    • Replace or repair broken or malfunctioning electrical elements
    • Adhere to the National Electrical Code as well as other local and state electrical regulations

 

Why are electricians important?

  • If you really think about it, tons of items in our daily life use electricity. Our phones, computers, ovens, lights, lamps, refrigerators, espresso machines, hot water heaters, televisions, traffic lights, heating and air conditioning systems, washing machines…all of these devices run on electricity. We often don’t appreciate just how much we rely on electricity until we find ourselves wildly unprepared during a power outage.
  • Because electricity is such a fundamental part of our modern day existence, we need trained and qualified specialists to install electrical systems and keep them running smoothly. This is where electricians come in. Without electricians, most of us would find ourselves in darkness each evening when the sun goes down.

 

Where do electricians work?

  • As we discussed in the previous section, our modern society relies heavily on electricity to function. And because we are so dependent on electricity, electricians may be needed in a variety of different environments. Electricians may work indoors or outdoors. They might work primarily on installing electrical systems in new homes or they might spend most of their time repairing electrical issues in homes that have already been built. Other electricians might not work on homes at all because they only work on commercial projects. Some electricians might work consistently at one location and others might be required to travel regularly for different projects. Some might work as part of a team of electricians while others might work mostly alone. They might work in open spaces like a railroad electrician or they might work in an enclosed, noisy setting like a factory.
  • As you can see, there are a lot of options when it comes to where electricians might work!

 

What kinds of tools do electricians use on the job?

  • Installing and maintaining electrical systems requires a range of different specialized tools. One tool might fit the bill for a new installation construction job but might not be small enough to be employed for a repair job when certain components are difficult to reach. Types of tools that an electrician might use include:
    • Cable benders
    • Conduit benders
    • Wire strippers
    • Cable cutters
    • Power drills
    • Hole cutters
    • Saws
    • Pliers
    • Screwdrivers
    • Levels
    • Circuit analyzers
    • Clamp meters
    • Voltage sensors
    • Multimeters
    • And More
  • With so many tools available it is important that electricians know which ones are right for a given job. This type of knowledge increases with on-the-job experience but where does someone learn the foundations when they are just entering the field? Well, we will cover that in the next section!

 

How do you become an electrician?

Electrician Apprenticeships

    • There are several ways to become an electrician. One way is to become an apprentice. This entails working for a period of time under an experienced and qualified journeyman electrician for a period of time. Apprenticeship programs vary depending on who offers them and where. In that state of California, for example, apprentices are required to work 8000 hours on the job for five years under various electrical contractors. In Texas on the other hand, 4,000 hours are required to become a residential wireman and 8,000 hours are required to become a journeyman electrician. If you are considering taking the apprenticeship route, it is a good idea to do some research on the requirements in your area.

Electrician Trade Schools 

  • Another popular option is to get a formal education from a trade school or technical college. Electrical technician schools offer a combination of in-class electrician training and hands-on experience to provide students with a well-rounded electrical education. These electrician trade school programs teach electrical theory, the fundamentals of electrical code, how to read blueprints, how to use specialized tools safely, and how to prevent injuries on the job. One major benefit of getting trained to become an electrician at a technical school is that many institutions have career service departments that help graduates find work once they complete their studies.
  • Another benefit of attending an electrician trade school is that they tend to be short and career focused. Because electrician trade schools only teach the theoretical and hands-on knowledge that is directly related to the electrician trade, they are shorter than degree programs which also require general education. Most electrician trade school programs are able to be completed in under a year. This is a big plus for people who are eager to enter the workforce quickly.

What is the job outlook for electricians?

  • According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for electricians is promising. The BLS expects a 14 percent increase in employment of electricians between 2014 and 2024. This is considered to be faster than the average growth for all other occupations.
  • But what will cause this growth? As more new homes and other buildings are constructed across the country, electricians will be required to install the electrical wiring. And installation of new electrical systems is only one piece of the puzzle. As time goes on and equipment ages, skilled electricians are required to replace them.
  • Another cause for the expected increase is the trend toward clean energy alternatives. As we switch to alternative energy sources like solar and wind in the coming decades, electricians will be needed to link alternative power sources to power grids.
  • Our dependence on electricity isn’t going anywhere. As long as we rely on electricity we will need trained and skilled electricians to keep the lights on!