Electricians are trade professionals who install, repair, and maintain electrical power to lighting, communication, and control systems.
Electricians start out as paid apprentices, getting paid to learn the trade by licensed electricians.
Most go to a technical school to enhance what they learn in the field.
An apprentice will work 4–5 years before becoming eligible to work as a journeyman, which means they can work on their own.
During training students learn how to read blueprints, state code and law, how to install and maintain wiring, control systems, circuit breakers, use manual and power tools, and a variety of other skills.
It’s important for these professionals to have excellent problem-solving skills, troubleshooting skills, customer service skills, and physical strength.
Electricians will often spend a lot of time working outside in the elements and in cramped spaces around dust and debris.
The job outlook for electricians is expected to rise by 7% by 2031.
The average salary in the United States for an electrician is $60,040 a year, however, there’s the potential to earn much more with overtime and side jobs.
1. Variety Of Tasks
The job of an electrician is never boring.
There’s so much variety in what they do that the chances of repetitive tasks on a day-to-day basis are quite slim.
This is good for people who don’t like doing the same thing every day.
For example, one day you may be at a construction site working outdoors all day, and the next you may get called to a home that has no power.
You’ll get to use all the skills you’ve learned, just not all in the same day.
2. Paid Apprenticeship
One of the best parts about being an electrician is that you need only a high school diploma to start earning some pretty good money.
Once you’ve been accepted into an apprenticeship, you’ll get on-the-job training and get a paycheck at the same time.
It’s great for people who may not want or be able to manage the high cost of college tuition.
3. Chance For Self-Employment
Upon completion of the apprenticeship and becoming fully licensed, electricians can opt to be their own boss and run their own business.
Being self-employed gives electricians autonomy, the ability to make their own schedule, and choose the types of jobs they want to work on.
4. Be A Part Of A Union
The Electricians Union (IBEW) is one of the strongest trade unions in the United States.
Being a part of it offers workers higher levels of employment, salary protection, benefit requirements, and protection through union-based safety standards.
Union meetings also offer members the opportunity to air grievances, socialize, and discuss new ideas and trends.
5. Variety Of Job Opportunities
Electricians can choose to work in a variety of areas.
Unlike other jobs, where you don’t have much choice as to where you are located or what your duties are, electricians have more options.
They can choose to work for a manufacturing company, contractors, private or public facilities (like hospitals, big box stores, etc.), an electrical company, or be self-employed.
They may also choose what areas they want to work in, things like solar panels, auto industry, electrical design, or computers are all areas that need electricians.
6. No Degree Needed
One of the best parts about being an electrician is that you don’t need a college degree.
You can apply for an apprenticeship right out of high school, and when accepted, can start earning money right away.
While it’s important to attend classes for the job, they are often provided free through the apprentice program.
This means no tuition payments, no student loans, and a steady paycheck.
More and more high school students are seeing the value of trade professions over college.
7. Cash Jobs
Once you become a licensed electrician, you’ll have the ability to take an almost endless amount of side gigs that pay cash.
Pleas for good electricians can be seen all over social media and hook old word of mouth.
People are away looking for someone to do smaller jobs like installing a ceiling fan, outdoor lighting, even hot tubs, or just fixing a bathroom fixture.
While you will need to report the earnings later, these quick cash jobs give you some quick cash in your pocket when needed.
8. Respected Career
Unless you do a terrible job, there’s not one person that dislikes electricians.
Everyone has love and respect for the people who restore power to their busy lives.
People appreciate (at least most do) the fact that you would come out late at night or interrupt your weekend to come out and help them.
Not only will you gain accolades, but by doing a good job, you’ll gain a reputation that will get you more work in the future.
Some electricians even get tips and gifts from regular clients.
1. Time-Consuming To Apprentice
Though you don’t need to pay for a degree, you will spend more time training as an apprentice than you would earning a college degree.
An electrician’s apprentice needs to work for 4–5 years before they can earn their journeyman’s license.
That gives the apprentice the ability to work independently without supervision.
It’s a long process, so if you don’t want to put that amount of time in, consider another career.
Being an electrician can mean being in potential danger for a good part of your day.
Besides the obvious electrocution worries, these professionals are also at risk for electrical burns, falling from high places (when working on power lines, rooftops, etc.), inhaling dust and toxic materials, back injuries, and cuts, bumps, and scratches.
If you’re overly concerned about getting hurt on the job, being an electrician may not be for you.
3. Odd Hours
Another drawback to being an electrician is the hours they often need to work.
In addition to regular business hours, they are often on call and may need to be gone late at night, early in the morning, weekends, and even holidays.
If a perfect work/life balance is important to you then being an electrician may not be for you.
4. Supply Your Own Tools
A financial ping to being an electrician is that you must support your own tools.
Unless you work for a large company where tools are included as a perk, you’re on your own in adding to your toolbox.
Most electricians spend anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000 on tools in the first few years of their trade.
Though it’s a long-term investment, and good-quality tools can last for decades, it can still be financially painful.
You’ll also be adding to your collection as technology advances.
The good part is, you can ask for some of them for birthdays and at the holidays.
You may also be able to find some good quality secondhand tools.
5. Poor Working Conditions
Electricians often work in extreme weather conditions.
They may need to work outside in the cold, snow, rain, and wind.
Working indoors may not be any better if it’s a sweltering summer day and the air conditioning is not working.
Then there’s climbing heights, working on roofs, or crawling into small spaces.
Construction sites will likely be full of mud, dirt, dust, and debris.
Other places an electrician works may be full of other things like fumes, bugs, vermin, and unsanitary conditions.
If you don’t like getting dirty and being exposed to extreme conditions, the electrician trade may not be for you.
6. Physically Demanding
Finally, being an electrician is much more than just connecting wires and troubleshooting issues.
This job entails using not only your hands and head, but it often involves your entire body.
Electricians must often stand for long periods of time, climb ladders, go up and down several flights of stairs, crawl through tight spaces, stretch, bend, and be on their knees.
Any one of these things can cause injury, and over time this constant level of activity can take its toll.
It’s important that if you decide on this profession you also make a commitment to protect yourself by maintaining good physical shape.
Tend to injuries when they occur, and go to the doctor when needed.
Don’t ignore a little problem, because it could turn into a big one.
14 Pros and Cons of Being an Electrician – Summary Table
|1. Variety Of Tasks||1. Time Consuming To Apprentice|
|2. Paid Apprenticeship||2. Dangerous|
|3. Chance For Self-Employment||3. Odd Hours|
|4. Be A Part Of A Union||4. Supply Your Own Tools|
|5. Variety Of Job Opportunities||5. Poor Working Conditions|
|6. No Degree Needed||6. Physically Demanding|
|7. Cash Jobs|
|8. Respected Career|
Should You Become An Electrician?
Being an electrician is a well-paying career, that comes with many perks and benefits.
You’ll be able to start earning money right out of high school, and you will definitely make a difference in people’s lives, especially when they are without power.
If you’re good with your hands, and enjoy working with tools, circuit boards, and other electrical apparatus, then being an electrician may be a career worth pursuing.
Keep in mind that it can be dangerous, the working conditions are not always the best, and it will take several years to be able to work on your own.
If all of this sounds good to you, then you may want to pursue the electrician profession.