A career as an electrician is lucrative, interesting and stable. If you are considering a skilled trade, this is a good choice. In addition, you may not realize that career paths for electricians are varied and have a variety of options. When training to become an electrician, it is important to understand all of your options for your future career.
To become any type of electrician, you must begin with study and training. The most common method is to become an apprentice. Apprentices typically attend 500 to 1,000 hour courses in the evenings and 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.
After successfully completing an 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 that you next serve as a journeyman, which means you must be supervised by a professional electrician.
You may also need to choose to get licensed for commercial or residential work, or both. The difference is simple: commercial electricians work in commercial buildings, while residential electricians work in homes and sometimes in small apartment buildings. Systems in commercial buildings are usually larger and more complex, but otherwise the work is similar.
After becoming a licensed electrician, you can become a master electrician yourself with 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 a license, and supervise and mentor other electricians. They can also take on and train apprentices. Master electricians generally earn more than journeymen.
If you've ever considered becoming a small business owner, you may want to make the transition from master electrician to electrical contractor. Many states have a higher 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 professional electrician on your staff. About 8% of electricians are self-employed.
Another path you may want to consider 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 types of weather and often at great heights. It can be a dangerous job, with the risk of falling and being electrocuted by high-voltage lines. However, these workers earn more than most electricians who work indoors.
Once you become a qualified, licensed electrician and have some experience working with 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.
Homebuyers need professional inspectors to ensure that wiring and electrical components are safe and up to code.
If you like leading teams, you may want to become a construction foreman, responsible for all types of workers on a job site.
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.
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 good position to choose how and where you want to work.
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