Electricians are essential to almost every aspect of life in the 21st century. Electrical services provide lighting in homes, power computer systems, keep businesses running, and more.
Such electrical services rely on professional electricians to install them and ensure that they work safely and reliably. The apprenticeships and intensive training of skilled electricians necessary to become master electricians reflect the importance of the electrical worker's task.
The first stage of training to become a skilled electrician is an electrical apprenticeship program.
These are usually five-year programs. During the apprenticeship, apprentice electricians learn many things, including electrical systems, lighting and security systems, energy management systems, and power distribution.
Apprentices learn from experienced electricians, first by watching and then by completing tasks. On-the-job training tasks are closely supervised during the apprenticeship, giving the apprentice more independence as he or she gains experience.
Apprenticeship programs typically include periods when the apprentice will attend a technical school or one of the local community colleges. Examples include those operated by the National Electrical Contractors Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).
At the technical school, instructors explain the electrical theory as well as local and national electrical codes. Training schools prepare apprentices for a written test that covers all apprenticeship programs.
Success on the test concludes the apprenticeship by qualifying the candidate for a journeyman electrician's license.
On average, applicants for Journeyman Electrician certification must accumulate a minimum of 8,000 hours of appropriate training and work experience, which typically takes 4 to 5 years.
Typically, Journeyman Electrician candidates must also pass a written exam to demonstrate their understanding of electrical theory as well as the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) and the electrical codes of the state and city in which they plan to practice.
This varies from state to state, but in most states, journeymen electricians must be licensed or certified. If required, licenses and certifications must be renewed periodically to stay current.
In some states, this means that a skilled electrician must stay abreast of best practices and changes in electrical codes by completing continuing education credits.
Skilled electricians are fully qualified to install, maintain and repair all types and sizes of electrical systems, from private homes to those running large commercial or industrial facilities.
The jobs of a skilled electrician are usually divided into two categories: outside journeyman or inside junction journeyman. Each of these jobs requires a unique set of electrical job duties.
An outside lineman's journeyman connects and maintains external power from a power plant to a building or facility's electric meter. Outside linemen also work on public utilities, such as street lights and traffic signals.
The daily duties of an outside lineman include：
In-house wiring clerks are skilled workers who work for residential, commercial, and industrial customers to connect circuits to electric meters. They also maintain the electrical systems within these facilities.
The duties of an in-house operator include：
Troubleshooting and repair of faulty equipment and electrical systems.
During the skilled electrician phase of their careers, many inside wiring operators begin to focus on one of the three main areas of electrical service: residential, commercial or industrial.
Most people are familiar with residential electricians who install, inspect or repair electrical equipment in homes. Residential electricians can be self-employed and work independently for residential customers, or they can work for an electrical company owned by a master electrician.
A skilled electrician or electrical company can work directly for the homeowner or can be subcontracted through a building contractor.
The tasks of a residential electrician include：
Commercial skilled electricians require a slightly different skill set. They often work for the construction industry, either full-time or on construction sites for specific periods. Commercial electricians are often commissioned to work on major and complex projects.
Electrical tasks for commercial electricians include：
Commercial electricians must be available immediately for electrical work, and if this often involves travel, a work truck may be provided for the skilled electrician and expected to drive to the job site.
Commercial electricians who work hard and prove their abilities may advance to the position of foreman. Foreman responsibilities include reviewing work orders and schedules, delegating work, liaising with other trades on-site, and ensuring compliance with safety regulations.
Foremen are paid 5% more than skilled electricians.
Last but not least is industrial journeymen electricians, who specialize in installing and maintaining electrical equipment and systems in industrial environments.
Many industrial electricians are full-time employees, usually in the maintenance department within a company, who ensure that their electrical systems run smoothly and safely.
Industrial electricians work in facilities belonging to manufacturing, shipyards, power plants, mines, oil rigs and other large entities, some of which require electricians to obtain additional training and certification.
The work of an industrial electrician includes the following：
After beginning an apprenticeship, electricians must join a union, which offers many benefits and prevents unfair employment practices.
In most states, master electricians can own their own electrical company and have apprentices. They can apply for electrical work permits and are often chosen as foremen for construction projects. They make more money than a skilled electrician.
After a few years of excellent skilled electrician training to prove themselves, skilled electricians are eligible to become master electricians.
Requirements vary from state to state, but on average, a journeyman electrician must work two years and 12,000 hours to take the master electrician exam and earn a journeyman electrician's license.
The Master Electrician exam tests all of the knowledge that a Journeyman Electrician in the electrical industry should have acquired during his or her training.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for electricians is expected to grow by 8% per year, which is twice the average job growth forecast.
In terms of numbers, the job outlook means that an additional 62,000 electricians will be needed in the United States. All in all, the outlook for apprentice electricians, skilled electricians, and master electricians looks good!
According to labor statistics, reasons for the growth in demand for electricians include an increase in population, the need for electrical upgrades to existing properties due to aging infrastructure, and the demand for electrical systems due to advanced technology.
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