How Do I Become an Electrician?

If you are a hands-on worker with the ability to carefully and resourcefully solve problems, you might be wondering how to become an electrician. Electricians are the professionals who install, maintain and replace the electrical systems that provide lighting and power to appliances. Electricians work with their hands and with a number of tools.

Electric work requires careful planning and execution to make sure that it doesn’t present a safety hazard. Electricians consult blueprints of a commercial or residential building before they begin installing a new system or substantially altering existing systems. Electricians install and repair wiring, lighting fixtures, appliances, circuit breakers, transformers, and many other electrical components and pieces of equipment.

Electricians typically prepare for their careers through four-year apprenticeships. These apprenticeships consist of both classroom instruction and work experience. The 144 hours of required instruction include lessons on reading blueprints, understanding relevant building code requirements and electrical safety as well as required mathematics and electrical theory curricula. They also spend 2,000 hours working as apprentice electricians, earning a salary that usually varies from 30 to 50 percent of a full-fledged electrician’s wages. Preparing for an apprenticeship typically includes passing science and mathematics courses such as algebra during high school. Securing an apprenticeship opportunity may require successful completion of an aptitude test. Aspiring electricians may also choose to learn some of their skills and career-related knowledge by attending a technical school and applying that coursework to their apprenticeship requirements. Upon completing an apprenticeship, aspiring electricians must obtain a license in the state in which they intend to work.

Electricians need more than education and training. They must possess certain natural skills and abilities. Work as an electrician is potentially dangerous, so aspiring electricians must think their actions through before doing anything that could be a fall hazard or lead to an electric shock. Physically, they must have the hand-eye coordination to hold onto and manipulate the correct wires, and the sharp color vision to distinguish wires of different colors from one another. They also need skills that are not purely physiological. They should be naturally good at troubleshooting problems and should be able to quickly learn to use various kinds of tools for testing electrical components and fixing problems. Self-employed electricians should be able to manage their own time as well as their other business responsibilities, and they should interact well with the customers and clients for whom they perform electrical work.

Electricians earn a median salary of $48,250 per year, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They can also look forward to a very positive job outlook. The BLS anticipates career opportunities for electricians to increase by 23 percent from 2010 to 2020, compared to only 14 percent job growth expected across all occupations. If you think critically to solve problems and want a job where you can work with your hands, knowing how to become an electrician could be your first step toward an exciting new career.

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