Every year millions of young people in the US are faced with the dilemma of what to do “next”. They’ve just finished high school, but haven’t decided on what their next move should be. For some, college promises more of the same and the thought of sitting in an office everyday doesn’t sound very appealing. Becoming an electrician is a great career choice. The electrical trade offers a multiple career options as well as becoming a licensed contractor.
The Electrical Trade Needs New Apprentices
Skilled tradesmen are reaching retirement age and leaving the workforce before they can be replaced. Worker shortages are common in areas where mega-projects are grabbing most of the man power; leaving local contractors struggling to find skilled labor.
Earlier this year Mike Rowe (advocate for the skilled tradesmen, host of Dirty Jobs and founder of Mike Rowe Works Foundation (mrWF)) testified before congress about the lack of workers available for blue collar jobs.
“Right now, American manufacturing is struggling to fill 200,000 vacant positions. There are 450,000 openings in trades, transportation and utilities. The skills gap is real, and it’s getting wider. In Alabama, a third of all skilled tradesmen are over 55. They’re retiring fast, and no one is there to replace them. Alabama’s not alone.”
Mike isn’t the only one with this line of thinking.
some ECs (electrical contractors) are already turning down jobs because they can’t find enough qualified electricians to do the work. All signs point to shortages of skilled electrical workers intensifying in the near future.
He also points out that due to market growth and demand, “we will need a net increase of nearly 100,000 electricians within the next three years.”
Working as an Electrician
Becoming an electrician means being exposed to a majo Being flexible with the ability to adapt to constant change while working in different environments is a key ingredient to being a true craftsman.
Right now the average electrician earns over $50,000 a year – many earn a lot more. By earning additional certifications and licenses, more employment opportunities become available.
The Path to Becoming an Electrician and How To Get Started
There are several ways to begin a career as an electrician – apprenticeships, trade schools, or on-the-job training.
Joining an electrical apprenticeship costs almost nothing for tuition (there’s typically a $30 application fee for filing paperwork). Books can total up to $2500 for a 5 year program and a starter set of tools will cost about $200. Compare that to $9,139 for one year of college, minus housing costs.
Electrical trade schools are much more expensive to attend and often require financial assistance.
For a comprehensive list and guide to the universities, trade schools and colleges providing electrician courses click here.
Typical Career Path of an Electrician
On the path to becoming an electrician, everyone started off as either an ‘electrician’s helper’ or an apprentice. It’s the only was to become an electrician. After the minimum required hours of training / OTJ have been met, the apprentice can apply for a licensing or certification exam.
Once passed, the career path can vary depending on location, specific skills that have been learned through the years and even location.
Here are some possible career opportunities an electrician may pursue:
- Project Manager
- Sales Representative
- Sales Manager
- Purchasing Agent
- Instructor / Trainer
- Project Engineer
A detailed overview for each position can be found here.
So don’t get left behind – start your career now by joining an electrical apprenticeship.