We live in a digital world where electricity is not just important to our daily lives, it’s inseparable. But for all the electric appliances and tools that we have around us, there’s a shortage of qualified electricians who can maintain and repair these essential tools.
Being an electrician by trade is one of the more profitable and skilled job opportunities out there. But before you start looking for a job, here’s what you need to know before you start your journey as an electrician.
Why should you choose to become an electrician?
Electricians work on homes and buildings, upgrade outdated electrical systems, and maintain current systems. Inspections, repairs, and updates are also performed by electricians. As an electrician, your work can be hectic at times, but it can be hugely rewarding and exciting as far as career opportunities go.
The industry is growing faster than ever, and it’s predicted this trend isn’t going to change anytime soon. According to the US Department of Labor, there will be more than 74,000 new electrician jobs by 2028 for qualified workers in the US. As the electrical sector evolves with changing technologies, electricians will always be needed to construct and maintain electrical systems in households, not to mention in the commercial, industrial, and mining sectors.
What work does an electrician do?
Installation, fitting, rewiring, repairing, testing, and maintaining electrical systems and components are all tasks an electrician is responsible for. It's a highly skilled position that necessitates on-the-job training as it can involve anything from fixing a light bulb to maintaining a solar panel.
Most electricians begin their careers as apprentices, but many get a formal education in the industry in order to be considered for positions with reputable organizations. Electricians operate in a variety of locations, from businesses, residential properties, and commercial projects, to construction zones.
How to become a professional electrician
There are numerous ways to get your career started as an electrician if you’re just interested and haven’t acquired any trade knowledge yet. Here are a few methods that can work for you.
Work as an apprentice
Many begin their careers as apprentices, receiving electrician training from experienced professionals who are already working in the field. Apprenticeship programs also help you work on real jobs that can help you not just train yourself as an electrician, but also gain invaluable real-world experience. You can also learn how to effectively communicate and negotiate with customers.
Become a certified professional
Electricians with formal professional degrees are preferred by most employers over those who only have informal electrician training. Enrolling in a two-year diploma programme will prepare you for work as a professional electrician by trade better than some of the other methods listed here.
Apply for jobs
If you’ve got some level of experience, certification, or training, then you should consider applying for jobs. You can find them on websites or market yourself online. You can also search through other platforms. Hospitals, railway stations, telecommunications offices, and airports all have a regular and significant demand for qualified electricians.
Become a contractor
If you’re confident you’ve got the professional experience and business skills to set out by yourself, you can start up a contracting company and start pursuing your own clients. As an electrical contractor, you can take on clients you couldn’t do by yourself, or by working with another company, you can hire more electricians, which can ultimately help you land larger and more lucrative contracts.
What skills do you need to become a professional electrician?
From installing and repairing wires to maintaining electrical systems, electricians perform a wide range of electrical work. You'll need a mix of technical and soft skills to become a successful electrician. Understanding the technical skills potential employers need will help you showcase your relevant qualifications.
With that being said, if you haven’t picked them up already, here are six new skills every electrician needs to have:
Standard electrical technical skills
If you want to be a professional electrician, it goes without saying you will need to master all the technical skills required to complete your work. You’ll learn these skills when you’re going through formal or informal electrician training.
Here are some standard skills you would need:
- Having knowledge of common electrical terms used in the field.
- Knowing how to install cable, and work with different types of wiring, conduits, tubing, and switches.
- Having the ability to use power tools, multimeters, and other devices.
- Knowing how to study and interpret blueprints.
- Knowing how to repair and replace wiring, fixtures, and other equipment.
You’ll also need to know about safety measures and precautions when handling electrical wires and performing installations. Ungrounded connections, wet locations, exposed wires, and circuitry can be a fire risk and injure people, and damage property.
It's easy to overlook, but you must consider the physical nature of being an electrician. You aren’t required to engage in strenuous activities for long periods. However, good stamina will go a long way towards making the job feel easier. Having good health and posture will ensure you aren’t easily exhausted after a long day’s work.
As an electrician, you’ll be doing tasks like
- Lifting heavyweights.
- Going up and down ladders, stairs, and scaffolding.
- Standing for long periods at a time.
- Squeezing into tight spaces.
- Crouching and bending over.
While none of the duties listed above appears to be difficult, they add up over time when performed on a daily basis.
In addition to being physically fit, you should also have good motor skills. When working with small objects and instruments, it pays to have good hand-eye coordination and a steady hand. Since you’ll be working with color-coded wires, being colorblind isn’t going to do you any favors.
It’s a common misconception that electricians work alone. For starters, you'll have to report to a project manager or supervisor if you work for a company. You can even be charged with training apprentices if you advance to a senior position.
When tasked with big projects like wiring a new house, you’ll have to collaborate with plumbers, carpenters, and other tradespeople.
Having good observational skills will help you identify electrical issues and deal with various problems and challenges you’ll encounter on the job. Being meticulous on the field with your tools and your work can help you stay safe and avoid accidents.
Flexibility and adaptability
Electricians typically do not work 9-5, hence flexibility is essential for a successful career. You’ll need to be flexible to attend different shifts at odd hours depending on what the client demands.
Customer service is a necessary skill for an electrician. It doesn't matter if you work for a company or start your own company, being able to connect with customers is a mandatory part of the job. If a customer does not trust you or your work, you’ve lost a repeat customer.
Working as a professional electrician can be highly rewarding. If you want to prosper as an electrician, being up-to-date with technical knowledge and skills is a must. You should focus on maintaining physical fitness, developing teamwork, and having a flexible work schedule. Having a sharp sense of observation will help you breeze through your tasks and save time on the job. But at the end of the day, remember customer satisfaction is key to a healthy career.
Therefore, developing customer service skills is essential! In addition to these six skills, there are many more you can add to your repertoire to round out your skillset. See what works for you and what doesn’t, since not all skills are going to be easy to pick up for everyone.