Is the electrical industry right for you? The path to becoming a professional electrician includes years of formal training and on-the-job practical apprenticeship experience. If you're not sure if you want to pursue this path, check out the questions to ask today.
Do you have several years to invest in training?
Unlike some other jobs, you can't start a career as an electrician after completing a one-semester program or a six-month course. Electricians are professionals who have an extensive understanding of complex residential and commercial wiring systems, mathematics and safety procedures. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), electricians may require four to five years of experience in an apprenticeship program.
In addition to the thousands of hours of experience gained through a hands-on apprenticeship, electricians often complete classroom-based vocational or trade school training programs. Before starting an electrical trade school program or beginning an apprenticeship, ask yourself if you can commit several years to the training.
Are there jobs in your area?
Electricians are almost always in short supply. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electrical trade jobs are expected to grow at a much higher than average rate of 8 percent between 2019 and 2029. This includes a projected increase of 62,200 jobs on top of the 739,200 state jobs that currently exist.
While BLS statistics show positive signs of growth in this field, you need to make sure your area follows this national trend. To learn more about electrical job opportunities in your area, consult with your local electrician, association, or organization.
Professionals already working in electrical jobs can help you understand the local market and provide real-world insight. If the person you talk to feels that the local job market is currently full of professionals, ask them about their views on potential future jobs and the number of new electricians entering the field. There may only be a few new apprentices and electricians, which means a crowded field will soon be open.
How many hours do you want to work?
It may take you a few years to take your first job and become a licensed electrician. But again, you'll need to complete on-the-job training as an apprentice. Whether you have a preference now or in the future, you'll need to know in detail the average hours worked during the workday before you begin training.
You can get more information about the typical hours of an electrician from a licensed professional. Talk to several different electricians who work in different environments. The exact number of days and hours you work depends on the area you choose to specialize in and your specific job. Some residential and commercial electricians work Monday through Friday during the day, while others may work evenings or weekend emergency relief shifts.
Will your future job meet your financial goals?
Do you dream of owning a home, paying for your children's college education, or other financial goals? A career as an electrician can help you achieve financial freedom. But that doesn't mean you'll be a millionaire after just one month at your first job. According to the BLS, the average salary for an electrician in 2020 is $56,900 per year or $27.36 per hour. These figures represent national averages, from entry-level to seasoned professionals, and include electricians in a variety of positions and trades.
If your financial goals include a high six-figure salary, you shouldn't expect an immediate return on your investment in years of training in the electrical industry. However, if the national median salary of $56,900 sounds perfect, or if you plan to start your own business in the future, then the electrical field can help you achieve your financial dreams.
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