What Does an Electrician Do?
Electricians install and maintain electrical power, telecommunications, lighting and control systems. They are responsible for the safety and quality of their work. They are also expected to understand and follow the regulations of state and federal agencies.
An electrician can be hired as an independent contractor or by an electrical contracting company. Some companies require that their employees be union members. In some states, apprenticeship programs are available, combining paid on-the-job training with related classroom instruction.
Most electricians work on projects that are new construction or renovations of existing structures, and they often work in homes, businesses, factories, and schools. They may also be tasked with repairing or replacing malfunctioning wiring, circuits, and other equipment.
Some electricians specialize in particular fields. For example, industrial electricians are trained to repair or replace motors, transformers, and generators used in large manufacturing plants. They also inspect and advise management as to whether certain equipment can be operated safely.
They usually travel to different worksites by car or truck, and they might be required to stay at their jobs for long periods of time. Some electrical contractors offer flexible scheduling and travel arrangements to meet clients’ needs.
A career as an electrician offers several advantages, including high pay and a stable job. However, it is important to ensure that you are a good fit for the job.
The job requires a high level of manual dexterity and hand-eye coordination. Electricians must be able to bend wires and cables, cut and solder metals, and carry tools that are large in size and heavy in weight. They are also trained to use electrical testing equipment and safety precautions when working with electricity.
Many electricians have a college degree, though some have specialized skills that allow them to get work without a four-year degree. Most electricians who start their careers without a degree are able to earn a high wage and avoid student loan debt, so this profession is an excellent choice for students looking for a low-stress, high-paying career.
Besides a college degree, electricians should possess strong communication and critical-thinking skills. They should be able to work well with customers and perform tests that help diagnose problems.
They must also have color vision to identify wires by color. This is crucial because bad wires are dangerous and can cause fires.
An electrician must understand and follow the national electrical code to ensure that they are installing wires in a safe way. The code is designed to prevent fires and injuries that can occur when the wiring in a home or building is not installed properly.
A person can become an electrician by completing a technical apprenticeship program that takes between one and five years. The training is usually supervised by a union or other industry groups. Apprentices must have a minimum of a grade 12 education and must pass exams in order to become licensed.
The employment outlook for electricians is good, with job openings estimated to increase 8% over the next decade. This is largely because of the need to replace workers who transfer occupations or retire, but alternative energy sources like solar and wind are also expected to generate more employment opportunities. As the world becomes increasingly dependent on renewable sources of electricity, it will require more electricians to link these power sources to homes and other facilities.