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Career path options for electricians

February 28, 2022


A career as an electrician is lucrative, interesting and stable. If you are considering a skilled trade, this is a good option. In addition, you may not realize that career paths for electricians are so diverse and that there are multiple options available. When training to be an electrician, it is important to understand all of your options for your future career.


Student and Apprentice Electricians


To become any type of electrician, you must start by studying and training. The most common method is to become an apprentice. Apprentices take 500 to 1,000 hours of classes, usually in the evenings and on weekends, while working and learning on the job. Electrical apprentices work directly with master electricians to learn and earn a living. Apprenticeship programs take four to five years to complete.


Journeyman Commercial & Residential Electrician


After completing your apprenticeship, you can take the necessary steps to obtain the required licenses or certifications in your state, county and city. Most states and territories require you to work as a journeyman next, which means you must be supervised by a master electrician.

You may also need to choose to obtain a commercial or residential work permit or both. The difference is simple - commercial electricians work on commercial buildings, while residential electricians work in homes and sometimes in small apartment buildings. The systems in commercial buildings are usually larger and more complex, but the other work is similar.


Master Electrician


After becoming a fully licensed electrician, you can become a Master Electrician yourself under the guidance of a Master Electrician. Master electricians are specially licensed and have at least a few years of experience beyond the journeyman level. Master electricians can work unsupervised, receive licenses, and supervise and mentor other electricians. They can also take on and train apprentices. Master electricians usually earn more than skilled workers.


Electrical Contractors


If you've ever considered becoming a small business owner, you may want to go from being a master electrician to an electrical contractor. Many states have the next level of licensing, which is a position that allows you to start an electrical contracting business and hire electricians to work for you. In some places, if you don't have a license, you may need to purchase some level of insurance and have a master electrician on your staff. About 8% of electricians are self-employed.


Outside Lineman


Another path you may want to consider taking when training to be an electrician is to work on the outside. Outside linemen are the electrical workers who install, maintain and repair the power lines you see outdoors. These lines carry electricity from power plants to neighborhoods, communities, and residential and commercial buildings. Outside linemen work outdoors in all kinds of weather, and often at considerable heights. It can be a dangerous job, with the risk of falls and electrocution from high-voltage lines. However, these workers earn more than most electricians who work indoors.


Other careers for electricians


Once you become a qualified and licensed electrician and have some experience using electrical systems, you may want to try something new. For those trained as electricians, there are many alternative careers, including some possibilities you may never have realized.

  • Home inspector. Homebuyers need professional inspectors to ensure that wiring and electrical components are safe and up to code.
  • Crew foreman. If you like leading teams, you may want to become a construction foreman, responsible for all types of workers on a job site.
  • Project Manager. New construction projects can be very large and involve complex electrical systems. Contracting companies and builders need project managers to plan and direct the implementation of wiring and electrical components.
  • Renewable energy specialists. With some additional training, you can become a wiring specialist for solar, wind turbines and other systems that use alternative energy sources.

Your career as an electrician can take many different forms. It's up to you to get the right training and licensing, and then you'll be in a great position to choose how and where you want to work.

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