A career as an electrician can be exciting and rewarding. You may pursue an apprenticeship or attend a trade school.
Electricians read technical diagrams and blueprints to install electrical components in homes and businesses. They also troubleshoot issues and repair existing wiring. Other important qualifications include color vision, logical problem-solving skills, and physical strength.
An electrician performs maintenance, inspection and installation of electrical equipment and systems in a variety of settings. Some electricians focus on repairing high-voltage electricity found in industrial manufacturing locations while others work with lower-voltage networks like voice, data and video (VDV) systems in offices or homes.
Electricians use diagrams and technical blueprints to plan wiring paths, install electrical components and troubleshoot problems. They are also expected to follow local and national safety codes and guidelines when working on electrical projects.
Other job duties may include demonstrating knowledge of renewable or green energy components and systems, interacting with end-users to provide guidance on safety precautions and power-saving practices and ordering parts or materials. Additionally, linemen and other electricians that work on electrical utility distribution systems are often required to climb telephone poles in order to work on cabling that runs between power plants and individual buildings or homes. They can also be responsible for removing trees, brush or debris that interferes with power lines and electrical utilities.
To become an electrician, you need a high school diploma or GED certificate and pass state licensing exams. These tests require a strong understanding of the National Electric Code, state and local building codes and testing and troubleshooting skills. You also need physical strength, communication skills and normal color vision to work with electrical wiring.
Some trade schools offer certificate programs in electrical technology, while others have associate degree programs that provide a more comprehensive education. The classroom instruction in these programs covers topics such as residential and commercial wiring, AC circuitry, transformers and generators and electricity theory. You also learn how to read blueprints and technical diagrams, as well as wire sizing calculations and box and conduit sizing.
Since electrical technicians use a variety of tools, including drills, saws and pliers, they need manual dexterity to handle them. They also need critical thinking skills to troubleshoot problems and determine the appropriate fixes. They must also be able to interpret the results of diagnostic equipment such as ohmmeters, voltmeters and ammeters.
To become a licensed electrician, you must have extensive training and experience in the field. You can start by enrolling in a program at a vocational school that offers certification after completion. The program will include classroom work and hands-on training with actual electrical systems and equipment.
The program will teach you how to read blueprints, understand and follow safety protocols, and learn about the different kinds of power, such as watts and volts. You will also learn about electrical wiring basics and how different materials resist current to varying degrees and how to determine those resistances.
The training will also cover basic construction techniques, such as drywall installation, house painting, and working with home equipment and furnishings. The curriculum will also touch on critical thinking skills and the ability to solve problems quickly. This is important because any delay in completing work can cost you money. It is also important to have strong communication skills. You will need to be able to effectively communicate with customers, subcontractors and other people in the workplace.
Electricians enjoy an excellent job outlook. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates that jobs in this field will grow faster than average between 2014 and 2024.
The influx of new construction projects is expected to fuel much of this growth, as will the need for maintenance electricians to keep older systems running smoothly. Furthermore, as alternative energy resources like solar and wind power become more popular, electricians will be needed to link these new technologies to home and commercial electricity grids.
In addition, hard-working Electricians can often advance in their careers and move up into roles such as Contract Managers or Electrical Engineers. They may also choose to start their own businesses, which can be an extremely rewarding experience for those with the right mix of business and technical skills.