Facts About Electricians Jobs And Employment Outlook

Electricians are trained professionals that maintain and install electrical systems in businesses and homes.  They work both indoors and outdoors in every type of setting.  They almost all work full time, and many even work nights and weekends.  Proper training and continuing education is necessary because electricity can be very dangerous.  Occupational injuries include burns, shocks, falls, and cuts.  But the most common causes of workplace fatalities are transportation accidents and violent assaults, with falls coming in third.  Actual on the job electrical death is usually due to contact with overhead power lines.  While the work can be hazardous, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has workplace safety regulations that have decreased injuries by 40 percent and fatalities by 60 percent. 

While most electricians learn the trade by starting out as an apprentice, others earn a degree from a technical school.  Apprenticeships usually last 4 years, with apprentices completing 144 hours of technical classroom electrician training and another 2000 hours of on the job training.  The classroom electrician training includes math, electrical theory, code requirements, safety, and first aid.  Specialized training is available in soldering, elevator repair, and fire alarm and suppression systems.  The training received during a 4 year apprenticeship is so comprehensive that the electrician will be qualified for work in maintenance and construction. 

Some people choose to start their electrician career at a technical school.  These schools have job placement services for their graduates.  The requirements and experience are similar to a 4 year apprenticeship.  Continuing training can also be required.  This training includes information on new codes and regulations, improved safety practices from OSHA, and manufacturer training for their specific products.  Licensing is required by most states, and the requirements differ by state. 

According to the United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2010 saw the median annual electrician salary reach $48,250.  The highest 10 percent of workers were earning more than $80,890, while the bottom ten percent were making less than $29,400.  Apprentices make 30% to 50% of as fully trained electrician salary.  About 33% of workers in the electrical trade are members of a union, with most of those being members of The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.  Overtime pay can be significant, with most workers in construction earning overtime. 

The job outlook for someone starting a career as an electrician is good.  Employment growth through 2020 is expected to be at a rate of 23%, which is faster than the average for other occupations.  This is because advancements in technologies have resulted in greater wiring requirements for homes as well as businesses.  Alternative and green power growth will also require electrical workers for installation and maintenance.  However, job growth in this sector is dependent on governmental policies at the federal, state, and local levels. 

Although overall job prospects might appear to be dim. Prospects for electricians are better than average.  With proper training and education, a new electrical worker can expect job prospects and a median wage that is greater than the national average.  Electrical work means long hours.  The most lucrative times are nights and weekends, where labor charge can be 1 to 2 times the regular rates.  Jobs in the construction industry are good as well in areas where new construction is increasing.  This work, with its emphasis on strict deadlines, often results in overtime pay.  Although dangerous, new regulations have greatly increased occupational safety, with sharp reductions in on the job injuries and fatalities.  If you want to be your own boss, prospects are not too bad either as 10 percent of electrical workers is self-employed.

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