Are you considering career choices and want to know how hard it is to become an electrician? It’s a valid question, and we break down the answer to help you make a wise decision.
The good news is that an electrician career has staying power. As long as we are dependent on electricity, there will be a demand for electricians.
To put it into perspective, most kitchens today consume more power than an entire home in the 1950s. We aren’t shy about using power.
The electrical trade is a safe choice for anyone looking for a growing career with a lot of stability and opportunities to make money.
If you’ve been thinking about becoming an electrician, you may be wondering how to begin your journey and how hard it is to become an electrician and reach the top of your career.
Keep reading below for all of the information you need to jumpstart your future as a licensed electrician.
Electricians have several different responsibilities. Primarily, they are responsible for safely getting electricity from their source to a consumer or a business.
Specific tasks that electricians can be responsible for include:
- Planning electrical systems
- Installing wiring and support brackets
- Installing electrical control systems and components
- Creating electrical circuits
- Interpreting blueprints and architectural plans
- Inspecting electrical components
- Upgrading out of date equipment
- Working outdoors on power and telecom systems
- Performing maintenance on electrical systems
- Testing electrical systems to figure out what is or is not working
- Training other electricians
- Directing other electricians
- Communicating with clients and other team members
Electricians work in several different places. Some of these working conditions can be dangerous if you’re not careful.
Electricians may work in buildings that are under construction or renovation, as well as outside. Many electricians may work primarily on different job sites, meaning that your commute time can change daily.
Since electricians can work independently or be part of a construction team, they often work with many different people and places. They can also be independent contractors or be employed by a small business.
What Does It Take to Become an Electrician?
Let’s talk about the types of skills and personality you need to make it as an electrician:
- A mechanical aptitude, as well as a basic understanding of algebra, is needed. Most applicants need to brush up on math skills. Since you will learn and build math and algebra skills as you go, don’t let the math aspect intimidate you.
- Being an electrician is more physical than you might think. There will be times you have to move through crawl spaces on your knees, climb ladders, or dig trenches. Electricians are on their feet most of the day.
- Fine motor skills and good balance are needed since you’ll be on ladders and other high places at times.
- Good communication and problem-solving skills will be called upon daily.
Training to Become a Licensed Electrician
A career as an electrician starts with some form of training, which can be undertaken in various ways. While some may enter directly into an apprenticeship, others prefer to enroll in a local community college or trade school training program.
Although you will need to complete an apprenticeship in either case, colleges and trade schools usually credit your apprenticeship upon graduation. Similarly, those who enter apprenticeships will be required to complete a minimal amount of classroom education.
What are the advantages of attending a classroom-based program through a local trade school or community college? Most importantly, it will give you the knowledge you need to enter the job field already in possession of specific trade skills.
Finding an apprenticeship can be competitive, as apprentices are paid employees and are expected to pull their weight. Therefore, having completed an electrical program can help you to find a better, more lucrative apprenticeship.
Once you are ready to get an apprenticeship, you will need to decide if you prefer a union or non-union apprenticeship. Union apprenticeships can be a little more challenging to get into and require the apprentice to pay union dues.
However, union apprentices generally bring home higher wages than their non-union counterparts.
Do You Need Math to Become an Electrician?
Electricians do need to know some math, although they don’t typically need to perform complicated equations. In particular, algebra is used on the job quite a bit. If you are planning to participate in a union apprenticeship, passing an algebra exam will be required before being accepted into the program.
If math tends to make you a little nervous, you may want to brush up a bit by looking for resources online or participating in a course, either in person or online.
You may even find one for electrical contractors. Some of the specific types of math you need to know include fractions, decimals, whole numbers, algebra, units and measurements, powers and roots, and solving equations.
Is The Actual Work That Electricians Do Difficult?
We’ve got many questions from a lot of people, and we’ve noticed that people usually want to know how difficult electrical training is, but they forget to ask—”how hard is the actual job?”
That’s a super-important question because an electrical career’s day-to-day tasks will be your experience for the majority of your time as an electrician. Training ends, but the career can last as long as you want it to.
Here’s the good news: the career is not as challenging as the physical work demanded of other tradespeople, but it is a much more physical job than any desk job you’ll ever have. Plus, some other factors can make it challenging:
- The weather can be bad. You may be working in attics during the hottest months of the summer and working in garages—or outdoors—during the coldest months of winter. That’s one aspect of the job that people fail to consider—you may be performing the work in challenging conditions. However, for some people, this is the best part of the job—being outside and not getting stuck in the monotony of office work.
- You’ll be on your feet all day. That can also be tough, especially when you consider that so many people sit all day long. We think that’s a positive aspect of the job. They’re finding out that people who sit in an office all day long have some pretty severe health problems because of it, such as diabetes and obesity. Not electricians, though! Electricians can be pretty tired by the time they get home.
- You can deal with some difficult people. It’s not unheard of that a client is difficult to work with or that even some of your colleagues are difficult to work with. You can count on that! This is probably true of all careers, though.
- You’re in it for the long haul. This is another aspect of the job that’s a good thing. Many Americans get laid off and have to change careers half-way through their professional lives. Most electricians are electricians for their entire working career, and if you decide to become an electrician, chances are strong you’ll be a lifer too!
Is Becoming an Electrician Worth It?
Thousands of electricians enjoy their trade and the challenge of solving electrical problems.
Hourly rates for electricians are expected to rise because there is an increasing demand for electricians.
Becoming an electrician is well worth the 4-year apprenticeship. You can make a good living. Electricians are the highest paid of the skilled trades, with plumbers a close second. (Plumbers may have a higher wage in some areas).
Electricians enjoy varied work with little chance of boredom. There is plenty of room for advancement as well.