Electricity. It powers many things we use in our daily lives. Televisions, refrigerators, single-serve coffeemakers and air conditioners all require electricity. We rely so heavily on machines that require electricity that many of us have difficulties when we are without it, such as in a power outage caused by weather.
According to the Edison Electric Institute, the electric power industry is a nearly $300 million industry and the “lifeblood” of the United States economy. Almost all businesses depend on electricity in one way or another, just as we do in our personal lives.
So how is it that we are able to access electricity as easily as plugging a cord into the wall? Contrary to what some might think, buildings are not magically equipped with power outlets. The electrical workings of homes, offices and other structures are manually installed by people. Those people are electricians.
Electricians work in many different settings, including in residential and office buildings, providing people with access to electricity. If you are looking for a rewarding and lucrative career you can begin in as soon as nine months, becoming an electrician is a great choice.
In the United States, another person is born every eight seconds. As the population of the United States and the world continues to grow, more and more people will need electricity. Additional housing will also be needed, which presents even more opportunities for people interested in the electrician profession.
As an electrician you will be joining a workforce of more than 628,000 electricians across the United States. Given that our dependence on electricity will not be waning any time soon, there will continue to be a need for electricians for quite some time.
We will cover the basics of the electrician profession to help you gain a better understanding of this potential career.
What is an electrician?
Webster’s Dictionary defines an electrician as “one who installs, maintains, and operates or repairs electrical equipment.” This definition may seem kind of broad, but that is because electricians perform many different tasks in many different places. To put it in its simplest terms, an electrician’s job is to get electricity from the “source to where it is needed,” whether it’s throughout a building, outside or wherever electricity is needed.
Electricians are responsible for installing the wiring and circuitry needed to provide electricity. Another key component of an electrician’s job is maintaining these components after they are installed.
What do they do?
As mentioned above, electricians perform a wide variety of tasks related to electrical equipment. Among the duties electricians fulfill are repairing and maintaining electrical systems, not to mention installing electrical wires and fixtures.
Customer service is also a vital part of the job because they need to be able to explain what they are doing to their customers, as well as answer questions. Electricians who are proficient in this aspect of the job are more frequently sought-out.
Many electricians also specialize in a specific kind of electrical work. Some of these specializations include:
- Residential electrician
- Fire, life and safety technician
- Voice data video technician
- Non-residential lighting technician
Each of these specializations usually requires additional work experience and technical training, depend on the state in which the electrician or apprentice is employed.
Where do they work?
The majority of professional electricians work in the electrical and other wiring installation contractors industry. This means they agree on a contract for any given job before they complete it, often times finding work with a contracting agency. Around 10 percent of electricians are self-employed.
Electricians work wherever electrical wiring is installed or needs to be installed. These locations include:
- Nonresidential building construction sites
The list is far from exhaustive and where an electrician works depends on their skill set.
How do you become an electrician?
Many students seeking to become electricians enroll in an electrician program at a technical school. Though it is not required, a trade school electrician education provides a solid foundation for beginning an apprenticeship.
An apprenticeship is paid, on-the-job training, aspiring electricians must complete before they are able to perform full electrician services on their own. Apprenticeships typically last between four and five years. The hours spent at a trade school can often be applied to one’s apprenticeship hours.
According to the BLS, apprentice electricians must complete “at least 144 hours of technical training and 2,000 of paid on-the-job training” every year of the apprenticeship. Classroom hours from a technical college can sometimes be applied to an apprentice’s 144 hours.
Once these apprenticeship hours have been completed, the apprentice electrician will most likely be required to pass a licensure exam. The licensure and educational requirements vary from state to state. Information regarding such requirements can be found by contacting the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).
California, for example, requires that apprentice electricians receive certification from the state’s Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). The exams differ depending on the specialization the candidate has chosen. Passing this exam is required to work as a professional electrician for a contractor.
As the United States continues to become increasingly dependent on equipment that requires electricity, the places people inhabit will require more and more wiring. The BLS projects employment for electricians to increase 14 percent by 2024, relative to 2014.
The BLS attributes this projected growth not only to the electrical needs of homes and businesses, but also to increased implementation of alternative power sources. Wind turbines and solar panels require electricians to connect them to homes and power grids.
An additional factor in the projected demand for electricians is the age of some in the workforce. A decent number of electricians are reaching, and will continue to reach, retirement age.
Electricians who work in factories typically have the most stable employment among the places where they are employed. The BLS also suggests that job prospects are brightest for electricians who can perform a multitude of different tasks adequately.
While the national electrician employment increase is expected to rise at a greater rate than the average of other occupations, the outlook in California is even more promising. The Occupational Information Network (O*NET) anticipates that the employment of electricians in California will increase by 33 percent during that same period.
How much do they make?
Not only do electricians have promising job prospects in the coming years, the money they earn is also better than many other jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians earned a median annual salary of $51,880 as of May 2015. The median for electricians was more than $15,000 higher than the median of all total occupations.
An apprentice’s salary is typically around half of what fully trained electricians earn. They are usually rewarded with pay increases as they learn more skills on the job.
Education is the first step
A quality trade school education is important for aspiring electricians. It helps them stand out over other candidates during their quest for employment. Summit College’s Electrician Program is accredited by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR). Students who enroll in Summit College’s Electrician program receive a well-rounded education that allows them to succeed in the workforce as professional electricians.
Summit College offers a nine-month electrician program at all three of its campuses: Colton, El Cajon and Santa Ana. The program is offered both during the day and at night to provide students with flexibility around their busy lives. It also allows students to enter the field in a short amount of time, providing valuable experience they need to begin their apprenticeships.
Summit College’s Electrician Program is designed to prepare students for positions in the workforce. Much of the program is hands-on learning, but that is also mixed with theoretical components so students learn the reasoning behind what they are doing.
The instructors who teach in Summit College’s Electrician Program are professional electricians with years of experience. They have handled a multitude of different situations over the course of their careers and have the knowledge that comes from working in many different settings. The electrical knowledge of the faculty is a pride point of Summit College’s program.
In Summit College’s Electrician program, aspiring electricians will learn the ins and outs of the trade. The well-rounded curriculum gives students the opportunity to see what they might want to specialize in, within the electrician industry. In Summit’s Electrician program, students will take courses to learn about subjects such as:
- Electrical theory
- Green electricity
- National Electrical Code Application
- Residential Installation
- AC and DC Motors and Machines
At the end of the program, students will be ready to enter apprenticeships and continue on their quests toward becoming electricians.
Summit College also offers electrician students career assistance, including resume help, mock interviews and externships. These resources help electrician students capitalize on lucrative entry-level jobs. In 2015, electricians in California earned a starting salary of $35,310.
Electricians play a vital role in providing us the power we need throughout our daily lives. Set yourself apart from the field with a stellar electrician education. Discover the Summit Difference. Get started today at summitcollege.edu.