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Electrician: Job Duties, Employment Outlook, and Educational Requirements

Research what it takes to become an electrician. Learn about employment outlook, licensure, training requirements and salary to find out if this is the career for you.

What Is an Electrician?

An electrician's job is to install and fix various electrical components. Electricians may work independently or as employees, and while most visit people's homes, some may work exclusively in public facilities. After graduating from high school, formal training is required in order to begin a career as an electrician.

Find out about training options and related career information by reading the table below.

Training Required Apprenticeship or postsecondary training program
Key Skills Problem-solving, physical stamina, critical thinking, communication
Licensure An electrician license is required in most states
Job Growth (2018-2028)* 10% (much faster than average)
Average Annual Salary (2018)* $59,190

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are My Job Duties as an Electrician?

As an electrician, you install and repair power systems for residential or commercial buildings. Although the type of maintenance work performed can vary substantially, you typically use hand tools and power tools to connect electrical wiring to circuit breakers, transformers, outlets and other appropriate components. Your primary role in any situation is to ensure the safe and reliable flow of energy.

Your work as an electrician also requires focus and adherence to safety procedures in order to avoid accidental injury, such as electrical shock. You may have to read and analyze blueprints to determine where circuits are formed. After you have finished wiring, you can use measurement devices to test connections and gauge the amount of electricity running through a particular system. A standard 40-hour workweek is common in the profession, but power outages may result in overtime or evening and weekend work if you are employed by a utility company.

What Is the Career Outlook?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of electricians was expected to increase by 10% from 2018 to 2028. Advances in technology, more sophisticated wiring systems and the movement to install more energy efficient devices may drive growth in your profession. You may work in a variety of industries, but will most commonly either work for electrical contracting firms or become self-employed. The annual average salary for electricians was $59,190 in May 2018, as reported by the BLS.

What Are My Educational Requirements?

As an aspiring electrician, your first step is to complete an apprenticeship program, which includes classroom study and hands-on experience. To qualify for an apprenticeship, you typically need to be at least 18 years old, have a high school diploma and pass an aptitude test that covers basic Algebra skills. Apprenticeship programs typically take 3-5 years to complete, and each year includes a minimum of 144 hours of formal instruction and 2,000 hours of paid, on-the-job training. An experienced electrician provides supervision as you learn about the national electrical code, blueprint reading, fiber optics, transformers, electrical theory and safety procedures as well as residential, commercial and industrial wiring.

You might also progress through your training faster if you take electrician courses at technical or vocational schools before entering an apprenticeship. Most states require electricians to be licensed. Although the licensure process varies by state, you typically need to pass an examination that tests your knowledge of the national electrical code and specific state codes.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Someone interested in this field may also consider becoming an electrical/electronic engineering technician. Rather than doing installation and maintenance like electricians, these professionals help design various types of electrical or electronic equipment and devices. An associate degree is generally needed. Another occupation that requires an associate degree is drafting. Drafters convert engineering plans into blueprints, and they can specialize in a certain area like electronics. Other jobs that demand minimal training and/or apprenticeships include the installation and repair of telephone lines, solar panels, wind turbines, and elevators.