All About Electricians: Past, Present, and (Your) Future

Electricity makes our everyday lives possible. Skilled electricians created the wiring in your home, your place of work, and along the streets where you walk. Lights reveal pathways for your convenience and safety when the sun goes down.

But how much does the average person truly know about the electrical profession that sustains our modern lifestyles? We thought it would be fun to do a bit of a deep dive into the trade — where it’s been, where it is right now, and where it’s going.

Once you’ve had your fill of trivia regarding the lives of electricians, perhaps you’ve considered becoming one yourself. It’s never too late! We wrote a whole blog post about becoming an electrician. Check it out!

On with the show!

Famous People Who Were Electricians

The electrical field has attracted many brilliant individuals who later went on to make their mark on the world stage.

  • Before Sun Records discovered Elvis Presley, the man who would be The Kind trained as an electrician.
  • Just before joining The Beatles, George Harrison was an electrician’s apprentice.
  • Think Mr. Bean, the British comedian, is all fun and games? In his other life, this actor, whose given name is Rowan Atkinson, holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Queen’s College, Oxford.
  • Alfred Hitchcock, the master of cinematic suspense, also studied electrical engineering as a young man.

Electricians Are In Good Shape

Basic physical fitness is not a prerequisite for every job. However, electricians do need to maintain some level of physical ability. They must climb ladders, lift and carry heavy equipment, move through small crawl spaces, break through walls, and dig holes.

Sound like superhuman tasks? Indeed!

To keep up with this type of activity, day-in and day-out, electricians must be both strong and flexible. In addition, their work demands tolerance of all weather conditions. Whether it’s freezing outside or hot and humid; during strong winds and rainy downpours — electricians have to be ready and healthy enough to work no matter the elements. In fact, it’s often during wind, rainy, nasty conditions that electricians must keep things running, especially in municipal settings.

Master Electricians Study for Many, Many Years

A master electrician studies for a minimum of eight years — both in a classroom and on the job. He or she is the very best at the craft of bringing power to homes, places of business, and industrial locations. Plus, they often mentor with other masters, work in the field, and take numerous additional classes to achieve a level of expertise.

Medical doctors attend college, medical school, and a residency; they also train for at least eight years. So electricians are just as trained in their electrical field (electrical field! get it?) as the individuals to whom you entrust your health and wellbeing are in theirs.

Unlike many medical docs, however, electricians also have the possibility of a debt-free education. Prairie Electric, for example, pays for your education if you choose to work with us.

Electricians Can Specialize In Four Different Fields

When electricians are in school, they can choose one of four fields in which to specialize: residential, commercial, industrial, or substation/transformer work.

Our team at Prairie Electric includes specialists from all walks. They make sure your home electrical systems are working well, providing lighting and lighting design for businesses. Our electricians ensure that all systems are go in industrial environments and substations and on transformers.

We do it all. We are truly a one-stop electrical shop for quality work and quality people.

Electricians Have Fantastic Job Security

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment of electricians is projected to grow 10 percent from 2018 to 2028, faster than the average for all occupations. Increases in construction spending and demand for alternative energy sources will drive demand for electricians.”

Furthermore, the median annual wage for electricians as of May 2018 was $55,190. In Oregon and Washington state, wages tend to be on the high end of the scale.

We reported on this in “How To Become An Electrician In Oregon and Washington.” In Southwest Washington and Northwest Oregon, “you can expect to earn about $15.36 per hour in your first year. That rises each year, reaching about $30.71 per hour in year No. 4.

“Of course,” we wrote, “once your apprenticeship is done and you’re licensed, you’ll start earning much higher wages (easily into the mid-$30-an-hour range) plus benefits. This depends, of course, on the specific type of electrical work you end up doing.”

Ready, Set, Go!

If you’re mechanically inclined, detail-oriented, and enjoy solving problems, a career in electrical servicing may be an excellent fit for you. It takes a combination of skills, plus a good work ethic and excellent customer service.

Once again, we suggest looking over this piece, which covers most of the basics, including information on the Northwest Institute of Electrical Technology JATC Area 1 (Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committees). We also go over the benefits of on-the-job (and paid!) training and licensing, which we discuss a little more below.

A different track includes pursuing your training while serving in the U.S. armed forces. Most branches of the U.S. military offer paid training and benefits to anyone who enlists and wants to become an electrician.

Of course, there’s nothing like on-the-job training to build experience and show employers and potential employers what you can do. Once you have trained for a year or more, you can usually become a helper, assigned to work with one or more journeyman electricians at a job site.

Helpers are expected to have a basic knowledge of electrical safety and an understanding of how to operate hand tools, as well as electrical construction methods. If you are just starting your work as an apprentice, on-the-job experience will serve as your boot camp, where you will gain industry experience while supervised by a journeyman electrician.

Apprentices for larger companies often start out delivering necessary materials and tools to job sites, an activity that can help green workers gain familiarity with commonly-used materials at electrical sites. However, the ultimate goal is to move an apprentice into working on the actual job, where he or she will gain the most valuable experience.

Professional Licensing

In order to work in areas with formal licensing procedures, you will need to obtain a license, particularly if you want to pursue a higher wage tier.

Professional licensing requirements vary depending on where you live. To find out the specifics for your region and goals, contact your local code enforcement office. In many cases, you will be required to show a minimum of documented time spent working in your chosen trade before you are eligible for licensure, often up to 8,000 hours. Some licensing authorities will only credit up to 2,000 per year, with no credit for overtime hours.

When applying for licensure, you may be asked to provide tax information, pay stubs, technical school transcripts, accumulated during your time working as an apprentice or helper under a journeyman electrician.

Study, Study, Study — and Take the Test

The National Electrical Code (NEC) is most often used for electrical code enforcement.

Familiarize yourself with the codes for your area, whether it is the NEC or another system, in preparation for your formal exam.

Often, licensing authorities offer a two-part examination, including a written test and a practical examination. The practical separates those with on-the-job experience from those with code-only familiarity. Depending on the rules for your area, you may be able to use the code book during the exam.

Questions about becoming a commercial or residential electrical contractor in Vancouver WA? Get in touch with Prairie Electric today.

Interested in a good-paying job in a growing industry and want to work in an encouraging work environment? Prairie Electric looks forward to hearing from you.

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