Electricians are skilled tradespeople who work in the construction industry, specializing in the design, installation, maintenance and repair of electrical systems - and the demand for these skilled workers is only growing in the United States.
The projected growth rate for electrical workers is 10 percent by 2028.
Electricians work in a wide range of specialties, such as residential and office building maintenance, as well as commercial/industrial and residential construction.
This article will take you on an in-depth look at the different types of electricians:
The types of electricians can be divided into several categories - however, most electricians fall into two main categories:
Linemen (outside electricians) - Also known as line electricians, these electricians work outdoors, installing high-voltage electrical transmission and distribution systems. They ensure that power produced by power plants is delivered to substations - and are equipped to manage high-voltage lines in residential, commercial and industrial facilities.
Wiremen (in-house electricians) - Wiremen are electricians who work with lower voltages inside buildings and structures. Wiremen install, maintain and repair the electrical systems that provide reliable power to residential, commercial and industrial buildings. Residential systems such as solar panel installations fall into this category.
There are three certification levels for electricians - apprentice, journeyman and master electrician.
The first step to becoming an electrician is through an apprenticeship program.
In most states, this requires a high school diploma (or equivalent) to apply. Usually, apprentices spend hundreds of hours in classes before joining a commercial electrician group.
After about three to six years, you can apply to become a licensed electrician apprentice.
After completing the apprenticeship program and meeting all the requirements, you can take the exam to become a journeyman electrician, and you will receive a license from a local, state or federal licensing panel.
Certification allows you to work without supervision and provides you with a certificate to train new apprentices.
Master Electrician is the highest level of electrical certification and requirements vary from state to state.
The primary standard in most states is approximately 4,000 hours of proficiency in electrical work, followed by a licensing exam to demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of the National Electrical Code.
Finally, Master electricians work on the most complex commercial and industrial projects and have the experience to train Journeymen electricians to do the same.
Within the two main categories of electricians, there are many different areas of electricians. Different types of electrician jobs also require unique skills and certifications. These fields include
Industrial electricians are tasked with installing, troubleshooting, and repairing electrical equipment in power plants, process plants, factories, and mines.
These types of electricians work with manufacturing systems and large, complex machinery - with some technicians focusing on safety and lighting systems.
As an industrial electrician, you will report to a maintenance supervisor or facility manager. In most cases, you'll need several years of apprentice job training before working in this field.
Commercial electricians who specialize in installing, repairing and maintenance of electrical systems - most of which operate in commercial buildings such as offices and other workplaces.
As a commercial electrician, you may also be required to assist in the design and planning of electrical systems during the construction of new buildings. If you're the type of person who's willing to take on an extra challenge, then this is the job for you - a job that often includes having to deal with public safety issues and local electrical codes.
If you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you can also venture out as an independent electrical contractor and go on to start your own business, hiring more electricians under your belt.
Residential electricians are the most common type of electricians. They are typically responsible for the installation, troubleshooting, maintenance and upgrades of electrical systems - this includes equipment in residential settings such as homes, apartments and condominiums.
As a residential electrician, you will install and repair security systems, air conditioning units and other household appliances.
Job training combines apprenticeship with formal classroom instruction under the supervision of a journeyman or master electrician. Upon completion of the apprenticeship program, you will also be required to pass a state test.
As with commercial electricians, many types of electrical work include working for a building contractor or independently managing a small business.
Maintenance electricians are an important part of the industrial, commercial and residential sectors. As a maintenance electrician, you will be tasked with maintaining, repairing and upgrading existing electrical equipment.
Other maintenance duties include testing, troubleshooting and diagnosing equipment problems.
To work as a maintenance electrician, you will also need to undergo formal apprenticeship training, receive on-the-job technical training, and then obtain an electrician's license.
Automotive electricians specialize in automobiles and other motor vehicles and are responsible for the electrical systems within these vehicles that are essential to their safe operation.
To become an automotive electrician, you need an in-depth understanding of vehicle diagnostics to properly check powertrains using high-performance electronic equipment. Technicians also use this equipment to perform official motor vehicle certifications.
In the United States, electrician licenses are issued at the state level, and all states recognize all three types of certifications. It is important to know that licensing requirements may vary from state to state. You can view your state's requirements here.
Electricians may be subject to injury and must take precautions through safety training such as OSHA. Electricians must also receive on-the-job training on job safety, and employers should take the necessary precautions to minimize the risk of injury. These can include
Electrical working conditions can vary from specialty to specialty and can be physically demanding, often requiring lifting supplies and tools while climbing ladders.
Some electricians must climb scaffolding and frequently bend and kneel to make connections in tight places. Depending on your specialty, be prepared to spend most of your time in a dirty and noisy workplace.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for electricians in 2018 was $55,190. This includes an average hourly wage of $28.50. The top 25% of earners made $472,780, while the bottom 255% earned $41,260. The best states by type of electrician and their salary are New York, Alaska, Illinois and Hawaii.
The highest-paying metropolitan areas in the U.S. are San Francisco, New York, Chicago and San Jose. The highest-paying industries for electricians are natural gas and real estate.
The job outlook for electricians in the United States is positive, with many different electrician jobs in the top industries. A career as an electrician is a recommended option for many people with professional options, room for advancement and a good salary.
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