What Are Some Common Careers in the Electricity Industry?

Electricity has a boundless range of applications, so this industry breeds a wide variety of electrical occupations - from electrical technicians to electronic engineers. Read on to learn about some of the most common jobs in the electrical industry. Schools offering Electrician degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Electrical Career Options

There are a wide variety of available careers in electrical technology. Common electricity jobs include electrician, line worker, electrical installer and power plant operator. All careers in the electric field carry their own requirements regarding education and training. For example, some require a high school diploma, while others entail technical training or college coursework. Below is an electrical careers list and an overview of each job.

Important Facts About Electrical Occupations

Electrician Line Worker Electrical Technician Power Plant Operator
Licensure/Certification Licensure required in most states Voluntary certification available Voluntary certification available N/A
Key Skills Critical-thinking, troubleshooting skills Teamwork, physical stamina Troubleshooting and mechanical skills Problem-solving skills, attention to detail
Work Environment Construction sites, homes, businesses Outdoors, sometimes during inclement weather Officies, laboratories, factories Power plant control rooms and stations
Similar Occupations HVAC mechanic, construction laborer Electrical engineer, telecommunications equipment repairer Aircraft equipment technician, Electrical and electronics engineers Boiler operator, wastewater treatment plant operator

Electrician

Electricians install and repair the wiring and electrical components of residential, industrial and corporate buildings. They typically work for electrical contracting or construction firms. Some specialize in installation during construction, while others specialize in maintenance; however, electricians commonly perform both functions.

As an electrician, you'll analyze blueprints and attach wires to their components, like circuit breakers and transformers. You'll also test electrical connections to ensure they're working safely. This career requires knowledge of local and national building and safety codes, as well as physical fitness to perform the heavy lifting, climbing and kneeling involved with the job.

Education and Training

You may train to become an electrician by completing an apprenticeship program offered by a local electrical union or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Electrician apprenticeships are typically paid, 4-year programs that combine classroom instruction and on-the-job training. You can expect to learn about and practice code and safety regulations, electrical system mapping and wire testing.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment growth of 9% is expected for electricians over the 2016-2026 decade (www.bls.gov). The median salary of an electrician as of May 2018 was $59,190, according to the BLS. Most electricians made between $32,940 and $94,620 a year.

Line Worker

Electrical line workers work for utility and construction companies, installing and maintaining the overhead and underground lines and cables that carry electricity to homes and businesses. These professionals typically specialize in either power or telecommunication lines and often specialize in one job function, like cable installation or equipment repair. Line workers also work on the stationary power grids that connect local lines to a main power source. Since these lines carry thousands of volts of power, these professionals wear protective gear and must follow stringent safety procedures.

Education and Training

To become a line worker, you may gain training through an apprenticeship, postsecondary training or a combination of both. Some community and technical colleges offer 1-year line worker certificate programs that provide a basic overview of electrical systems, equipment and safety procedures. After earning a certificate, you may then continue training by earning up to five years of experience through an apprenticeship or similar on-the-job training.

Another way to become a line worker is through the military. In exchange for your military service, you may receive training in installing and repairing power lines. You might gain experience maintaining power grids at a base or facility and qualify for employment on an electrical distribution team.

Job Outlook and Salary

The BLS reports that line installers and repairers will experience employment growth of 8% over the 2016-2026 decade. As of May 2018, electrical power line installers and repairers made a median salary of $70,910, according to the BLS. Most annual salaries were between $38,200 and $101,560.

Power Plant Operator

Energy companies typically produce electricity from their own power plants, which are maintained by power plant operators. In this capacity, you would be responsible for controlling the components that generate electricity and direct it to various buildings and facilities. This may involve operating and monitoring generators that provide emergency power. When working for a power company, you may also work with large turbine engines that output power from a main source.

Education and Training

While some power plant operators enter the career with high school diplomas, those with postsecondary training may benefit from greater employment opportunities. Power plant technology associate's degree programs are available through community colleges and technical schools. These programs tend to include coursework in turbines, energy conversion, boiler control, thermodynamics and environmental technology. Most plants will also require you to complete extensive on-the-job training.

Job Outlook and Salary

Power industry careers are expected to experience little or no job growth over the 2016-2026 decade, reported the BLS. Power plant operators earned a median wage of $79,610 as of May 2018, and most made between $45,590 and $106,650 per year.

Electrical Technician

Also known as electrical engineering technicians, electrical technicians help engineers develop various kinds of electrical equipment - including computers and , communications equipment. Their duties may also include testing and evaluating such products and providing solutions to any technical design problems that may arise in development.

Education and Training

To become an electrical technician one will usually need an associate's degree. Programs related to electrical engineering can be found in universities, community colleges and vocational schools. Students commonly undertake courses related to mathematics, physics, circuitry, programming and chemistry. Electrical technicians may also pursue certification in specialized fields (i.e. basic electronics, control systems) to demonstrate an advanced level of knowledge.

Job Outlook and Salary

Electrical engineering technician careers are to experience a 2% growth from 2016 to 2026, as reported by the BLS. As of May 2018, individuals in this profession were earning an annual median wage of $64,330, with most making between $38,110 and $95,140.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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