Not everyone has to go to college. If you’re not interested in spending the amount of time or money that it takes to earn a degree, there are other options available to you. One of these is to become an electrician.
Electricians earn good money and are always needed. Best of all, you can become one without going to college.
If that sounds interesting to you, keep reading. We’ve put together all of the information that you need to know about becoming an electrician in the sections below.
What is an electrician, exactly?
Electricians are responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of electrical systems. They work in residential homes, commercial businesses, and factories, among other places.
Almost every building in the United States has electrical power. These need the attention of a skilled electrician every so often to function properly. This fact has created a significant demand for electricians in the USA.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that this job is going to grow much faster than average over the next 10 years.
WHAT DOES AN ELECTRICIAN DO?
The specific tasks that an electrician completes can vary pretty significantly based on their specialty.
For example, an electrician who works with a construction team to install electrical systems will have different responsibilities than one who repairs electrical problems in residential homes.
That being said, here are some of the most common tasks that electricians complete in general:
- Reading blueprints and technical diagrams
- Installing wiring, lighting fixtures, and control systems
- Using various tools to test electrical systems
- Troubleshooting problems in electrical systems and repairing them
- Following all state and federal building code requirements
- Using a variety of hand and power tools to work on electrical systems
Why would I want to become one?
There are several good reasons to become an electrician. Many people do so because the job pays well and you can get hired without a college education.
The average annual salary for an electrician is $56,900 or $27.36 per hour. That compares very favorably to the average salary for an individual with just a high school diploma, which is $35.256 per year.
You may even be able to make more than that depending on where you live and your experience. For example, electricians in California earn $75,900 per year on average. Figures like these show that there’s a lot of earnings potential for an electrician.
Another good reason to become an electrician is the sheer number of job opportunities that are available in the industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 739,200 electrician jobs in the United States.
But that number is expected to grow by 8% over the next ten years. That’s much faster than the average job.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the work an electrician does can be very enjoyable to some people. The job involves working with your hands, creative problem-solving, and it keeps you out of an office.
All of these factors combine to make becoming an electrician a solid career move.
What skills do I need to become an electrician?
To do well as an electrician, you’ll need to possess a certain set of skills. You might have some of these skills already and you might need to spend some time developing others.
First, you need to have strong mechanical aptitude and technical problem-solving skills. An electrician has to be able to come up with creative solutions to challenging technical problems.
This ability is what allows an electrician to install, maintain, and repair electrical systems with a wide variety of features. Having an innate understanding and comfortability with mechanical systems will help an electrician accomplish this.
Electricians also need to have good communication and business skills. Electricians often work directly with their clients.
To keep that client’s business, the worker needs to be able to communicate with them in a courteous, professional manner. An electrician also needs to have a sense of what it will take for them to keep that client’s business in the future.
Other skills are important for electricians to have as well. These include time management, attention to detail, and dependability, among others.
Don’t worry if you feel like you don’t have some of these skills right now. You can develop them with the right form of training. More info on how to do that is included in the next section.
How to become an electrician (a step-by-step guide)
STEP 1: MAKE SURE YOU SATISFY THESE BASIC REQUIREMENTS
Before investing too much time into becoming an electrician, you should verify that you satisfy the basic requirements of the job. Here’s what they are:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a high school diploma or the equivalent of one
- Be physically capable of standing for most of the day
- Have a driver’s license and a vehicle
- Feel comfortable working both independently and as part of a team
If you check all of these boxes, great. You’re ready to take the next step. If you don’t, that’s okay too. Just fix whichever requirement you’re missing and then you can move forward with becoming an electrician.
STEP 2: APPLY FOR AN ELECTRICIAN APPRENTICESHIP
Next, most aspiring electricians will apply for an electrician apprenticeship. Before diving into that, it’s worth mentioning that you may also decide to pursue formal training at a technical school or community college.
This can be a good way to develop a strong base of electrical knowledge but it’s not essential to becoming an electrician.
Completing an apprenticeship is what will teach you everything that you need to know about being an electrician. You’ll work under the direct supervision of a licensed electrician. While you do this, you’ll likely also take classes that teach you the theory behind the electrical tasks that you’re completing.
Apprenticeships are a great way to learn because they combine hands-on training with classroom learning. The best part is, you’ll get paid to train while you complete an apprenticeship.
Generally speaking, you need to complete about 8,000 hours of on-the-job training and 288 hours of classroom instruction and labs to complete an apprenticeship. This typically takes between four and five years.
STEP 3: PASS THE JOURNEYMAN’S LICENSE EXAM
Completing your apprenticeship is by far the most time-consuming step in becoming an electrician. At this stage in the process, you’ve already climbed up most of the mountain.
You just need to provide to your state’s licensing body that you know your stuff.
All electricians need to earn their licenses before they can work on their own. To do that, you’ll need to pass an exam that covers the National Electrical Code. The test will include federal electrical requirements as well as state-specific ones.
You must take your test preparation process seriously. Make sure that you’re investing a bit of time each day into getting ready for the exam and you should have no problem passing it.
Once you do, you’ll have earned your electrician’s license and will be free to start working as an electrician in the state.
STEP 4: PUT TOGETHER A STRONG APPLICATION PACKAGE
At this stage of the process, you’ve developed all of the skills that you need to become an electrician. The only thing that’s left to do is to get hired as one. To do that, you’ll need to put together a strong application package.
This starts with your resume. It should clearly state your educational qualifications, skills, and relevant experience. Check out some online templates for electrician resumes if you need some help with this.
You also need to put together a good cover letter for your applications. Each cover letter that you send to an employer will need to be unique. The best strategy is to create a template that you can alter each time you apply for another electrician job.