The Bureau of Labor Statistics describes an electrician as a worker who maintains and installs communication equipment, electrical power systems, and electrical control systems in various types of buildings. An electrician's typical responsibilities include reading blueprints, replacing wires, repairing electrical systems, inspecting and testing electrical systems and training aspiring electricians.
According to the BLS, most electricians work full-time hours and are employed by electrical contracting companies. Nearly one-tenth of electricians are self-employed. Electricians' schedules vary, and many work daytime hours, evening hours and on the weekend. Most people working in this field will also be expected to work overtime on occasion. Although the majority of electricians will work schedules determined by their employers, self-employed electricians can set their own schedules.
To become an electrician, individuals must typically be able to solve problems and think critically. Electricians should also possess good communication skills in order to facilitate teamwork and customer service. Finally, electricians need business skills if they hope to be self-employed.
Reports by the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicate that electricians earned a median, annual salary of $50,500 nationwide during 2013. The top 10 percent of earners received a wage of approximately $83,900, while the bottom 10 percent earned around $30,700. Electrician salaries will also vary by region. In Missouri, for example, electricians earned a median annual wage of $57,100 in 2013, which was much higher than the national average for that time period.
The BLS also reports that employment of electricians is expected to increase significantly over the next ten years. In fact, because of the growing construction industry and the need to maintain existing electrical equipment, a 20 percent increase in employment of electricians is anticipated between 2012 and 2022. This growth rate is higher than the national average for all professions.
Those who hope to become an electrician in the future can begin pursuing this career shortly after completing high school or an equivalent degree. It's also possible to plan for this career path during high school by studying relevant topics, such as science and math. Following graduation, prospective electricians can enroll in a technical program, work as a helper to another electrician or begin an apprenticeship.
Apprenticeships are designed to teach electricians the skills they need for their career. Classroom topics typically include electrical theory, mathematics, blueprint reading, safety information and electrical code requirements. Apprenticeships range from four to five years in duration. In order to complete the program, students must typically complete 144 hours of electrical training and 2,000 hours of experience in the field.
Apprenticeship programs may be sponsored by contractor associations, unions or individual electricians. Licensure requirements vary by location. In Missouri, no statewide requirements exist, but individual jurisdictions have their own requirements. To work as an electrician in Kansas City, an individual must pass a test, provide references and have a minimum amount of experience in the electrical trade.
After completing an apprenticeship and beginning fieldwork, electricians can advance their careers by qualifying for positions of leadership. Electricians may also choose to become self-employed.
The following resources may be helpful to prospective electricians hoping to work in Kansas City.