According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an electrician is a professional who installs and repairs lighting, electrical power systems, electrical control systems and communication equipment in both commercial and residential buildings. Typical responsibilities of an electrician include repairing or replacing wires, fixtures and other equipment, reading blueprints, inspecting components of electrical systems, testing for electrical problems and training apprentices. The majority of electricians work full time.
The BLS reports that most electricians work for companies that provide electrical contracting services. Approximately 9 percent of electricians are self-employed. Electricians may work during daytime hours, in the evening and on the weekend. Overtime is fairly common, especially on construction sites. Electricians who are self-employed can often set their own hours, but most other electricians rely on their employers to determine scheduling.
Because electricians must frequently identify and resolve issues within electrical systems, critical thinking and problem solving skills are essential. Electricians must also be able to communicate well with others in order to provide effective customer service. In addition, self-employed electricians must possess certain business skills.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the nationwide median annual salary for electricians in 2013 was $50,500. Earnings for this vocation also vary by region. The median annual wage for electricians in Missouri was considerably higher than the national average in 2013 at $57,100.
Electricians can expect strong employment growth over the next ten years. The BLS reports that employment of electricians is expected grow by 20 percent between 2012 and 2022, faster than the average across all occupations. Reasons for this growth include the construction of new homes and businesses, as well as the need to maintain existing electrical equipment.
Individuals interested in a career as an electrician can begin working toward their goals immediately after graduating from high school or obtaining an equivalent degree. During high school, prospective electricians can prepare by studying mathematics, physics and other relevant topics. After high school, individuals pursuing this career can enroll in technical programs designed for electricians. Prospective electricians may also enter an electrician apprenticeship immediately, or they may work as a helper before becoming an apprentice.
During an apprenticeship, aspiring electricians will complete 4 to 5 years of training and classroom study. These programs typically require a minimum of 144 hours of electrical training and 2,000 hours of on-the-job training. Apprenticeship programs are designed to teach electricians everything they need to know in order to be successful in the field, including electrical code requirements, safety information, mathematics, blueprint reading and electrical theory.
Aspiring electricians may complete apprenticeship programs sponsored by a union or contractor association, or they may complete a program with an individual licensed electrician. Requirements for licensure vary by state, but most states require electricians to pass a test.
After entering the field, electricians may have opportunities for advancement. For example, electricians who are successful may eventually gain leadership over other electricians, or they may be able to train apprentices. Some electricians may also choose to start a business of their own.
Below are some resources for individuals hoping to pursue a career as an electrician in St. Louis, MO.