If you’re good with your hands, enjoy math, believe in safety first, and love to take on new challenges, you might want to consider becoming an electrician. An appetite for learning is also essential for electricians, as there are always new tools and techniques to be considered, and your work must comply with updates to local building codes.
Electricians work in a wide variety of environments on different projects from residential electricity, commercial building power, or electronics, and they do it around the world. On any given day, you may be reading blueprints, installing wiring to support lights, major appliances, or surround sound, identifying electrical problems in homes, businesses, or factories, or replacing wiring that’s causing problems.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that the need for electricians is growing, with 9% more electricians than are currently available by 2030 — that’s about 66,100 more electricians. You could be one of them if you can answer a straightforward question: “Should I become an electrician?”
The answer to that question will depend on how you feel about the pros and cons of becoming an electrician. Some pros include the ability to earn while you learn as well as having the opportunity for long-term job security. Additionally, you do not need a college degree to pursue work in this field. Cons include the danger of the work, the odd hours you may have to keep, and the sometimes challenging working conditions. With this guide, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about whether or not a career as an electrician is right for you.
Is Becoming an Electrician a Good Idea?
There are many reasons why becoming an electrician is a good idea. Here are six of them.
- No degree needed: You don’t have to go to college to become an electrician. You must complete an apprenticeship under a journeyman electrician, which typically includes 8,000 to 10,000 hours of on-the-job training and 400 to 500 hours of classroom learning. The best part is that you get paid to learn everything you need to know.
- Excellent salary: the BLS says that the median pay for electricians in May 2021 was $60,040. That means half of electricians made less than that, and the other half earned more. The bottom 10% of electricians earned less than $37,020, and the top 10% earned more than $99,800.
- Self-employment opportunities: Once you’ve completed your apprenticeship and are properly licensed in your state, you can strike out on your own. You’ll be able to choose your working hours and take on only the jobs you want. Being your own boss is a great lifestyle choice for people who value independence.
- Consistent work: Electricians never go out of style. People will always need electricity, giving you excellent job security, whether you’re working for a union shop, a non-union company, or yourself.
- Union benefits: You can reap the benefits of unions if you work for a company where the electricians are unionized. These offer advantages such as a better work environment, improved employment benefits such as pensions and health insurance, and higher wages.
- See the world: As an electrician, you can travel anywhere in the world and find work. You could maintain the lights at the palace at Versailles in France or travel to a third-world country to help villages get electricity through solar panels. Electricians are needed everywhere.
Is Becoming an Electrician a Bad Idea?
As many benefits as there are in this kind of work, there are also disadvantages of being an electrician. Here are six of them.
- Dangerous work: Working with electricity is dangerous. If you can’t tell what color the various wires are, you connect them incorrectly, or you don’t ground them right, you could start a fire or electrocute yourself or someone else. There’s a huge potential for property damage and personal injuries.
- Physically demanding work: Electricians have to be strong and limber. You never know when you’ll have to dig a trench to run wires or pull wires for a new building going up. As an apprentice, you’re more likely to get all the dirtiest and most challenging jobs because you’re the newbie. Because the work is so demanding, some electricians may take early retirement beginning around age 55.
- Supply your own tools: You’ll probably have to provide your own tools when beginning your apprenticeship. You may also have to provide safety gear, including a hard hat, steel-toed boots, and gloves. You will want to invest in durable work pants or jeans, as well as a good tool belt and a sturdy toolbox. Getting your basic gear together could cost upward of $1,000.
- Difficult working conditions: You may wind up working outside in the middle of a blizzard that’s knocked out power to thousands of people. In July, you could find yourself running wire for a new construction project in the Sonoran Desert when it’s 110° in the shade. Or you might be working on power lines in a thunderstorm because a drunk driver has wiped out a pole.
- Continuing education: Many states have continuing education requirements for electricians to keep their licenses current. For example, the state of Kentucky requires six hours of continuing education every year before electricians can renew their licenses.
- Being on call for loved ones: Once word spreads through your family and friends, you’re likely to become the de facto electrician for everyone you know. They may call you if a socket stops working, a self-cleaning oven gets stuck halfway through the cycle, or if the power goes out in their neighborhood.
Is Becoming an Electrician a Good Career for a Woman?
Right now, about 4.4% of electricians are women, according to Zippia. However, that shouldn’t deter any women who are interested in the career from pursuing it. Any woman who has the physical strength and stamina, an aptitude for math, and an inclination to focus on safety can succeed as an electrician.
We hope that this guide has helped you answer your question, “Should I become an electrician?” You should measure the pros against the cons and decide what balance you can live with before embarking on a new career as an electrician.