According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook, electricians are workers who install and maintain lighting, electrical power systems, electrical control systems and communication equipment in various structures. Typical tasks performed by electricians include inspecting and testing electrical systems, repairing problems with electrical systems, replacing wires, reading blueprints and installing new equipment.
People with certain skill sets may be more successful in this field that others. For example, electricians must be able to think critically and solve problems in order to repair electrical systems. In addition, because electricians must interact with customers frequently, good communication skills are also important. Furthermore, those hoping to become self-employed need to possess certain business skills.
The BLS reports that the majority of electricians work for companies that offer electrical contracting services. Approximately 9 percent of electricians are self-employed. Most electricians work full-time hours, and many work overtime. Electricians may work weekdays, evenings and over the weekend. For electricians who work as employees, scheduling depends on the employer. However, self-employed electricians can often set their own hours.
The BLS reports that the median annual salary for electricians nationwide in 2013 was $50,500. The bottom ten percent of electricians earned salaries of $30,700 and lower, the top ten percent of electricians earned salaries of $83,900 and higher. The salary an electrician can expect to earn also varies by location. In the state of Missouri, the median annual salary for electricians in 2013 was $57,100. This is significantly higher than the national median wage.
Reports published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics also indicate that job openings for electricians will increase significantly over the next decade, due in part to the growth in the construction industry and the need to maintain electrical equipment that has already been installed. From 2012 to 2022, employment in this field is expected to grow by twenty percent.
Individuals who plan to work as electricians can begin preparing for their future careers during high school by enrolling in as many science and math courses as possible. After graduating from high school or obtaining an equivalent degree, individuals can continue working toward a career as an electrician by enrolling in a technical program, enrolling in an apprenticeship or working as an electrician's helper. Graduates of technical programs and electrician's helpers must still complete an apprenticeship before they can begin working independently, but they may receive credits toward completion for their previous experience.
The goal of an apprenticeship program is to teach students the skills they need to become successful electricians. Topics covered in the classroom may include electrical code requirements, safety information, mathematics, electrical theory and blueprint reading. Apprenticeships are usually four to five years long, and students are typically required to complete 2,000 hours of field experience and 144 hours of electrical training in order to graduate. Aspiring electricians may be able to find apprenticeship programs sponsored by individual electricians, unions or contractor association.
In Missouri, there are no published statewide licensure requirements for electricians. Instead, individual jurisdictions determine their own licensing procedures. Electricians in Joplin must pass a test to obtain licensure and carry a minimum amount of insurance.
Electricians who have completed their apprenticeships may have opportunities for career advancement. For example, an electrician who is successful on his own may eventually be awarded a leadership position. Electricians may also choose to start their own businesses, which offers more freedom and a potential for higher earnings.
The resources below may be helpful to individuals hoping to pursue a career as an electrician in Joplin, MO.