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Building Electrician Skills and Qualifications

Did you know that electricians cannot be colorblind since they must be able to clearly distinguish the color of wires? Building electricians should also possess good hand-eye coordination and sufficient physical fitness and stamina to move around easily all day. Also essential to getting the job done are the following:
  • Industry-specific knowledge - reading blueprints, understanding electrical theory, and exhibiting familiarity with electrical code requirements
  • Safety - competency on proper techniques in order to prevent accidents, first-aid training to handle emergencies if they occur, and wearing appropriate gear such as protective glasses
  • Critical thinking - to diagnose problems that arise and come up with an effective solution
  • Attention to detail - to ensure everything is working properly, meets client specifications, and is up to code
  • Teamwork - electricians may work in groups on large projects or need to collaborate with other types of laborers, such as heating/cooling specialists during construction

Building Electrician Education and Training

After receiving a high school diploma or the equivalent, many aspiring building electricians attend a technical or vocational school to start learning the basics of the field. Whether you attend a post-secondary institution or not, a key part of becoming a building electrician is completing an apprenticeship of 4-5 years. During this time, learners receive paid on-the-job-training under the watchful eyes of experienced electricians. This "earning while learning" system appeals to many people when choosing a career. Most states require electricians to be licensed. Procedures for obtainment vary by location but generally include passing a test that includes questions about electrical codes and safety plus documenting work experience of roughly 6,000-8,000 hours. To keep up with the field's evolving standards, building electricians should plan on being lifelong learners.

Building Electrician Salary and Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports the median yearly wage for electricians as $52,720 ($25.35 per hour). Electricians in the 10th percentile earn about $31,800 per year, while the highest paid make roughly $90,420. Building electricians belonging to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers often earn more than their counterparts and receive better benefits due to the union's bargaining power. The BLS projects demand for electricians to grow 9 percent between 2016 and 2026. Projections are rather hard to make, however, because the need for electricians is often closely tied to rises and falls in the construction industry.

Building Electrician Resources

As you ponder whether becoming a building electrician would be a good career move, here are some other places to obtain further information:

CareerOneStop: Electrician Career Video - get a first-hand look at what electricians do with this video put out by the U.S. Department of Labor

Electronics for Dummies - this entry in the popular series explores topics such as circuits and safety, plus provides simple projects that help readers put theory into action

National Electrical Contractors Association - innovation, education, career advancement, and industry best practices are among the topics covered on the website of this long-established group

Electrician - this book in the Careers in Construction series provides a thorough yet readable introduction to the field and is especially appropriate for younger readers

Independent Electrical Contractors - if you have questions about becoming an electrician, apprenticeships, and certification, this group may be able to help

Explore the Trades - this offering from Nexstar Legacy Foundation includes an FAQ about becoming an electrician

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