Although the turn of the new millennia saw an increased focus on pursuing more academically inclined professions via college-level qualifications, there has been a renewed focus on people applying for trade schools and exploring employment options in these fields. So is being an electrician a good career choice?
Becoming an electrician is a fantastic career choice for individuals that are good at working with their hands across various industries. Further to the lifestyle and work of an electrician is the fact that there are opportunities for career growth, skills development, and a comfortable income.
While becoming an electrician has been recognized as one of the best trades a person can enter, it is one of the harder career paths to being, which requires an academically inclined, creative, hardworking, and tenacious individual. Let’s explore these challenges below in greater detail:
Is Being An Electrician Hard?
Before exploring the pros and cons of being an electrician, it is worth exploring two aspects of the profession and the skills needed to succeed in the electrical trade:
- How hard is it to become an electrician, and
- How hard is the work of an electrician?
1. How Hard Is It To Become An Electrician?
To begin your journey as an electrician, you need to be accepted into a trade school or be offered an apprenticeship role. Regardless of the route taken, there are some bear requirements you need to meet to be considered for either option:
- You must be 18 years of age,
- Have a high school diploma or GED,
- Be in good physical shape (including but not limited to anything that may hamper your ability to perform the work of an electrician, such as being color blind.)
Suppose you are selected to join a trade school to study to become an electrician. In that case, you will be subject to extensive classes covering both practical and theoretical lectures, assignments, and tasks from professionals in the field.
Success in this environment requires ongoing persistence, a willingness to learn, study skills, and an aptitude for practical work and activities. These will require physical fitness and alertness that you need to develop independently.
Being selected as an apprentice, either with a private company or electricians union, provides extensive in-person experience and work shadowing while being significantly harder to enter than a trade school.
Should you be granted the privilege of becoming an apprentice, be prepared for hard work and long hours in practical and classroom settings. The approximate time it takes to complete an apprenticeship is four years and over 600 hours of in-class training/lectures.
After completing either an apprenticeship or registered trade-school diploma, you will be required to sit your “national code for electricians” exam. Only once you have passed this exam will you be considered eligible to be registered as a licensed electrician.
Note: In some states, such as California, further work experience must be earned along with your qualification and exam pass to be licensed as an unsupervised electrician. Make sure to look at your state laws in advance so you know all the requirements needed to practice independently as a registered electrician.
2. How Hard Is The Work Of An Electrician?
Once you are a registered electrician, you will be expected to perform various tasks that require hard and soft skills to meet the expectations of your clientele and adhere to legislated health and safety requirements.
Consequently, the work of an electrician can be very challenging, meaning the following attributes (among others) are needed to succeed in the electrical trade at the highest level:
- Standard electrical skills:
- Including but not limited to cable installations, the use of power tools, understanding blueprints, understanding all safety procedures, repairing and replacing various equipment, fixtures, and wiring.
- Being able to work independently and in a team.
- Remaining fit, active, and healthy,
- Displaying problem-solving skills,
- Adopting a flexible work schedule and not being deterred by lengthy/emergency projects,
- An intermediate understanding of mathematics and arithmetic,
- Excellent time management skills, and
- Customer service skills.
Pros And Cons Of Being An Electrician
Now that we have explored the challenges of becoming an electrician and the skill set/characteristics needed to succeed in the electrical trade, we must unpack and explore the pros and cons of being an electrician in greater detail.
Outside of being a profession suited for people who enjoy working on-site and with their hands, there are some objective benefits of becoming an electrician that other jobs typically do not provide:
- Job growth:
- National and international metrics suggest there is a growing need for electricians, meaning there are ample job opportunities at present and predicted in the future.
- While many electricians may begin their career as journeymen that work for large companies or in teams, advancement to a Master’s qualification means you can begin your own company training others or doing independent work with relative ease.
- Union Membership:
- Along with union membership which can help promote fair labor, employment, and training practices, is the sense of community associated with union membership.
- Choosing to become an electrician means that you will be entering a trade that presents people with dynamic, on-site work, meaning that there are constant opportunities to learn and grow within the profession.
Like any career, there are some pitfalls associated with becoming an electrician; they are as follows:
- The time it takes to qualify:
- While it may vary from state to state, becoming a registered electrician is a lengthy process that requires a unique combination of theoretical classes, practical training, exams, and registered hours.
- Physically demanding work:
- Unlike most “white color” jobs that do not require a level of physical activity or fitness, electricians need to remain fit and healthy throughout their careers in order to perform their tasks quickly, efficiently, and safely.
- The work can be dangerous:
- Although there are legislated health and safety laws regarding the work that can be performed and how an electrician must perform them, there is always a risk of injury when working with electricity.
- Unscheduled work hours:
- As a negative to the aforementioned positive of flexible working hours, there are also times where an electrician may have to attend to work at unexpected/inconvenient hours in the event of emergencies or urgent projects.
In conclusion, becoming an electrician is a fantastic career option for those looking for a challenging trade that offers ample growth, employment, and earning potential.
If you are still unsure if you want to become a plumber or electrician, we have discussed the pros and cons of each here.