Every year, millions of young people in the United States are faced with the dilemma of what to do "next. They have just graduated from high school, but haven't decided what they should do next. For some, the idea of college promising more of the same and sitting in an office every day doesn't sound too appealing. Becoming an electrician is a great career choice.
Are our electricians in high demand?
The electrical industry needs new apprentices
Skilled tradesmen are reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce before being replaced. Worker shortages are common in areas where large projects take up most of the manpower; making it difficult for local contractors to find skilled labor.
Earlier this year, Mike Rowe (skilled labor advocate, host of Dirty Jobs, and founder of theMike Rowe Works Foundation (MRWF)
) testified before Congress about the lack of workers available for blue-collar jobs.
"Currently, U.S. manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 open jobs. There are 450,000 job openings in trade, transportation, and utilities. The skills gap is real and growing. In Alabama, one-third of skilled tradespeople are over the age of 55. They're retiring fast, and there's no one to replace them. Alabama is not alone."
David Hardt, the new president of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
, says some ECs (electrical contractors)
have turned down jobs because they can't find enough qualified electricians to do the work. All indications are that the shortage of skilled electrical workers will intensify shortly.
He also noted that due to market growth and demand, "we will need a net increase of nearly 100,000 electricians in the next three years."
Pros and cons of becoming an electrician
Pros: No degree required
You can go to a community college or technical college to earn a diploma or two-year degree in electrical technology to start your career as an electrician, but it's not required. Most people who enter the field do so by participating in an apprenticeship program, usually through a union-based Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee, or JATC.
The scam: Electrician apprenticeships take several years
While you don't need a four-year degree to become an electrician, you must spend four to five years in an apprenticeship program. You can choose to join a union program or a non-union program, but any apprenticeship program will include 8,000 to 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and work experience in the field, and 500 to 1,000 hours of classroom work.
Benefits: Work and earn while you train
An apprenticeship will take several years to complete, but on the other hand, it also allows you to earn a salary while you learn. These programs include hands-on training that you get paid for. It won't earn as much as a full electrician at the end of the training, but it does allow you to learn and earn a living at the same time.
Benefits: Electrical jobs are varied and challenging
Electricians are highly skilled trade workers. They don't simply spend their days on the job doing routine, boring tasks; they spend their days at each job site solving problems, troubleshooting problems, and facing new situations and challenges. If you're looking for a career that's fun and different every day, then this is a great choice. It's not a job that gets boring.
Cons: Electrical work can be dangerous
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, electricians suffer more work-related injuries and illnesses than the average worker. Fatal accidents are rare with electrical work, but they can happen. More commonly, workers may suffer electric shocks, burns, falls, and similar minor injuries associated with workplace accidents.
Pros: Good Pay and Job Prospects
One of the key reasons many people change careers to become electricians is the strong job growth and good pay. The current national employment growth rate of 9 percent means that tens of thousands of new jobs will be available for qualified electricians in the coming years. Growth in electrical occupations is even stronger in certain areas, such as large cities and areas where construction is booming. the national median annual salary for electricians in 2019 is $62,940. For the top 10 percent of earners, the annual salary is more than $96,580.
The Benefits: Opportunities for Self-Employment
If you've always thought you might want to work for yourself or become an entrepreneur, then this is a great area to start. As with other trades, such as plumbing, electricians are usually self-employed, either as independent contractors or as owners of small electrical contracting companies that employ other people. As a self-employed electrician, you have the freedom to choose what you want to do, when you want to work, and how much you want to earn.
Ways to become an electrician and how to get started
There are several ways to start a career as an electrician - apprenticeship, trade school, or on-the-job training.
There is virtually no tuition to take an apprenticeship as an electrician (there is usually a $30 application fee to submit paperwork). Books can total up to $2,500 for a 5-year program, and a starter kit costs about $200. Compare this to $9,139 for a year of high school minus the cost of housing.
Professional Electrician Tools
Knoweasy tools are professional electrician tools that can meet the various needs of electricians when working and effectively improve the efficiency and safety of their work.