Electricians


Quick Facts: Electricians
2017 Median Pay $54,110 per year 
$26.01 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education High school diploma or equivalent
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Apprenticeship
Number of Jobs, 2016 666,900
Job Outlook, 2016-26 9% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 59,600

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Electricians Career, Salary, and Education Information

What Electricians Do

Electricians install, maintain, and repair electrical power, communications, lighting, and control systems in homes, businesses, and factories.  Identify electrical problems with a variety of testing devices. Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools.

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electricians

Duties of Electricians

Electricians typically do the following:

  • Read blueprints or technical diagrams

  • Install and maintain wiring, control, and lighting systems

  • Inspect electrical components, such as transformers and circuit breakers

  • Identify electrical problems using a variety of testing devices

  • Repair or replace wiring, equipment, or fixtures using hand tools and power tools

  • Follow state and local building regulations based on the National Electrical Code

  • Direct and train workers to install, maintain, or repair electrical wiring or equipment

Almost every building has an electrical power, communications, lighting, and control system that is installed during construction and maintained after that. These systems power the lights, appliances, and equipment that make people’s lives and jobs easier and more comfortable.

Installing electrical systems in newly constructed buildings is often less complicated than maintaining equipment in existing buildings because electrical wiring is more easily accessible during construction. Maintaining equipment and systems involves identifying problems and repairing broken equipment that is sometimes difficult to reach. Maintenance work may include fixing or replacing parts, light fixtures, control systems, motors, and other types of electrical equipment.

Electricians read blueprints, which include technical diagrams of electrical systems that show the location of circuits, outlets, and other equipment. They use different types of hand and power tools, such as conduit benders, to run and protect wiring. Other commonly used hand and power tools include screwdrivers, wire strippers, drills, and saws. While troubleshooting, electricians also may use ammeters, voltmeters, thermal scanners, and cable testers to find problems and ensure that components are working properly.

Many electricians work alone, but sometimes they collaborate with others. For example, experienced electricians may work with building engineers and architects to help design electrical systems for new construction. Some electricians may also consult with other construction specialists, such as elevator installers and heating and air conditioning workers, to help install or maintain electrical or power systems. At larger companies, electricians are more likely to work as part of a crew; they may direct helpers and apprentices to complete jobs.

Although lineman electricians install distribution and transmission lines to deliver electricity from its source to customers, they are covered in the line installers and repairers profile.


Work Environment for ELECTRICIANS

Electricians held about 666,900 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of electricians were as follows:

Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors: 65%

Self-employed workers: 8%

Manufacturing: 8%

Government: 4%

Employment services: 2%

Electricians work indoors and outdoors, at homes, businesses, factories, and construction sites. Because electricians must travel to different worksites, local or long-distance commuting is often required.

Work Schedules for electricians

Electricians work full time, schedules may include evenings and weekends, and may vary during times of inclement weather. During scheduled maintenance, or on construction sites, electricians can expect to work overtime.


How to Become an ELECTRICIAN

Most electricians learn through an apprenticeship, but some start out by attending a technical school. Most states require electricians to be licensed. For more information, contact your local or state electrical licensing board.

Education

A high school diploma or equivalent is required to become an electrician.

Some electricians start out by attending a technical school. Many technical schools offer programs related to circuitry, safety practices, and basic electrical information. Graduates usually receive credit toward their apprenticeship.

Training

Most electricians learn their trade in a 4- or 5-year apprenticeship program. For each year of the program, apprentices typically receive 2,000 hours of paid on-the-job training as well as some classroom instruction.

In the classroom, apprentices learn electrical theory, blueprint reading, mathematics, electrical code requirements, and safety and first-aid practices. They may also receive specialized training related to soldering, communications, fire alarm systems, and elevators.

Several groups, including unions and contractor associations, sponsor apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship requirements vary by state and locality.

Some electrical contractors have their own training programs, which are not recognized apprenticeship programs but include both classroom and on-the-job training. Although most workers enter apprenticeships directly, some electricians enter apprenticeship programs after working as a helper. The Home Builders Institute offers a preapprenticeship certificate training (PACT) program for eight construction trades, including electricians.

After completing an apprenticeship program, electricians are considered to be journey workers and may perform duties on their own, subject to any local or state licensing requirements.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Most states require electricians to pass a test and be licensed. Requirements vary by state. For more information, contact your local or state electrical licensing board. Many of the requirements can be found on the National Electrical Contractors Association’s website.

The tests have questions related to the National Electrical Code and state and local electrical codes, all of which set standards for the safe installation of electrical wiring and equipment.

Electricians may be required to take continuing education courses in order to maintain their licenses. These courses are usually related to safety practices, changes to the electrical code, and training from manufacturers in specific products.

Important Qualities

Color vision. Electricians must identify electrical wires by color.

Communication skills. Electricians work with people on a regular basis. They should be friendly and be able to address customers’ questions.

Critical-thinking skills. Electricians perform tests and use the results to diagnose problems. For example, when an outlet is not working, they may use a multimeter to check the voltage, amperage, or resistance in order to determine the best course of action.

Physical stamina. Electricians often need to move around all day while running wire and connecting fixtures to the wire.

Physical strength. Electricians need to be strong enough to move heavy components, which may weigh up to 50 pounds.

Troubleshooting skills. Electricians find, diagnose, and repair problems. For example, if a motor stops working, they perform tests to determine the cause of its failure and then, depending on the results, fix or replace the motor.


salaries for ELECTRICIANs

The median annual wage for electricians was $54,110 in May 2017. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $32,180, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $92,690.

 

In May 2017, the median annual wages for electricians in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Government: $60,570

Manufacturing: $58,470

Electrical contractors and other wiring installation contractors: $52,190

Employment services: $47,520

Apprentices receive less pay than fully trained electricians, but their pay increases as they learn to do more.

Almost all electricians worked full time in 2016. Work schedules may include evenings and weekends, and may vary during times of inclement weather. During scheduled maintenance, or on construction sites, electricians can expect to work overtime.

Self-employed electricians often work in residential construction and may have the ability to set their own schedule.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, electricians had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2016. Although there is no single union that covers all electricians, the largest organizer of these workers is the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.


Job Outlook for electricians

Employment of electricians is projected to grow 9 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Increases in construction spending and growing demand for alternative energy sources will drive demand for electricians. Increases in construction spending and growing demand for alternative energy sources will drive demand for electricians.

Job Prospects for electricians

Electricians who can perform many different tasks, such as electronic systems repair, solar photovoltaic installation, and industrial component wiring, should have the best job opportunities.

Employment projections data for Electricians, 2016-26

Employment, 2016: 666,900

Projected Employment, 2026: 726,500

Change, 2016-2026: +9%, +59,600


Careers Related to electricians

Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians

Aircraft and avionics equipment mechanics and technicians repair and perform scheduled maintenance on aircraft.

Drafters

Drafters use software to convert the designs of engineers and architects into technical drawings. Most workers specialize in architectural, civil, electrical, or mechanical drafting and use technical drawings to help design everything from microchips to skyscrapers.

Electrical and Electronics Engineering Technicians

Electrical and electronics engineering technicians help engineers design and develop computers, communications equipment, medical monitoring devices, navigational equipment, and other electrical and electronic equipment. They often work in product evaluation and testing, and use measuring and diagnostic devices to adjust, test, and repair equipment. They are also involved in the manufacture and deployment of equipment for automation.

Electrical and Electronics Engineers

Electrical engineers design, develop, test, and supervise the manufacturing of electrical equipment, such as electric motors, radar and navigation systems, communications systems, and power generation equipment. Electronics engineers design and develop electronic equipment, including broadcast and communications systems, such as portable music players and Global Positioning System (GPS) devices.

Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers

Electrical and electronics installers and repairers install or repair a variety of electrical equipment in telecommunications, transportation, utilities, and other industries.

Elevator Installers and Repairers

Elevator installers and repairers install, fix, and maintain elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and other lifts.

Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and Installers

Heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration mechanics and installers—often called heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and refrigeration(HVACR) technicians—work on heating, ventilation, cooling, and refrigeration systems that control the temperature and air quality in buildings.

Line Installers and Repairers

Line installers and repairers, also known as line workers, install or repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables, including fiber optics.

Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and Dispatchers

Power plant operators, distributors, and dispatchers control the systems that generate and distribute electric power.

Solar Photovoltaic Installers

Solar photovoltaic (PV) installers, also known as PV installers, assemble, install, and maintain solar panel systems on rooftops or other structures.

OccupationENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION2017 MEDIAN PAY
Aircraft and Avionics Equipment Mechanics and Technicians$61,260
DraftersAssociate's degree$54,170
Electrical and Electronics Engineering TechniciansAssociate's degree$63,660
Electrical and Electronics EngineersBachelor's degree$97,970
Electrical and Electronics Installers and Repairers$57,210
Elevator Installers and RepairersHigh school diploma or equivalent$79,480
Heating, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration Mechanics and InstallersPostsecondary nondegree award$47,080
Line Installers and RepairersHigh school diploma or equivalent$64,190
Solar Photovoltaic InstallersHigh school diploma or equivalent$39,490
Power Plant Operators, Distributors, and DispatchersHigh school diploma or equivalent$80,440

Citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Electricians,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/construction-and-extraction/electricians.htm