Almost every home, office, factory and public space has an electrical power, lighting, communications and control system. Electricians are responsible for the installation of these systems and ensuring they meet building regulations. They are also called on to maintain and repair existing wiring and equipment.
The career of an electrician requires a number of skills and personality traits. Successful electricians are usually self-starters and enjoy hands-on work. They often have a good eye for detail and are highly analytical. They also need a strong work ethic and physical stamina.
To become a licensed electrician, one must complete a minimum of 7,000 hours of on-the-job training and pass an exam. Journeymen must also have the supervision of a Master Electrician for at least three years. Continuing education is required to keep up with changing technology and code requirements.
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required to enter this field. Some electricians opt to obtain a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering technology at a community college or technical institute. Others choose to take the more traditional route and enroll in an apprenticeship program.
Apprenticeship programs are available through unions and private companies, or can be obtained by attending trade school. A combination of classroom lectures and practical internships is common. Students studying to become electricians will take classes in advanced math, electronic circuitry, digital systems and industrial automation. After completing their degree or apprenticeship, electricians may specialize in one of five primary categories: lineperson, who works on electricity utility company distribution systems at higher voltages; inside wiremen, who work with the lower voltages utilized inside buildings; commercial, residential and industrial electrical installers; and voice-data-video (VDV) installers.