According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employed electricians in the United States is in the middle of a significant upswing, growing by 14 percent from 2014 to 2024. That's double the growth rate of most jobs.
The problem is that the number of electricians isn't following the same curve.
Many industries are facing the same problem. Every day, 8,000 U.S. baby boomers turn 65, and the rigors of physically demanding trades sometimes force workers into retirement at that suggested age. That means the electrical industry might be losing experienced workers faster than other less strenuous professions.
Projects to improve U.S. infrastructure are on the rise, however, and so is the need for quality workers.
That's why we like to draw attention to organizations that provide training for apprentice electricians and other trades, like SkillsUSA, the U.S. Department of Labor's ApprenticeshipUSA and the mikeroweWORKS Foundation's Work Ethic Scholarship program. Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) also offers craft training and apprenticeship programs throughout the country – our 2016 Electrician of the Year plans to donate some of his winnings to the ABC Nevada chapter!
Electrician-specific programs are available through national associations like the Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC), as well as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA). Klein recently added a $2 million Double-Down pledge to support education and training programs through IBEW-NECA and their joint program, The Electrical Training Alliance.
Join us in supporting the next wave of American tradespeople. Pass these helpful tips on to anyone you know who may be thinking about a career as an electrician!
6 Tips for Aspiring Electricians
- Do your research. Many national and local programs exist to help jumpstart your career as an electrician. Check out the links above to see which route to apprenticeship is right for you.
- Meet the minimums. When applying for an apprenticeship or technical school, pay attention to the minimum requirements. Generally speaking, you must be at least 18 years old, with a high school diploma or equivalent. And, you must have color vision – electricians need to be able to identify wires by color.
- Prepare yourself. Heavy lifting, bending, squatting, climbing and squeezing into tight spaces are everyday activities for electricians across industries. Keeping your body and your gear in good shape will help you keep pace with coworkers and stay safe in the process.
- Think critically. Memorizing code books and techniques is a good start, but you also need to be able to diagnose malfunctioning systems on the fly. Professionals don't have time to tinker, so get to know what diagnostic tools you have access to, and how and when to use them.
- Pay attention. Take advantage of all the resources you have during your apprenticeship, especially the experienced electricians around you. You have thousands of hours ahead of you to absorb everything they have to offer, which you can eventually turn into your own way of working. Go in willing to learn and you might be surprised at how much they have to teach you.
- Keep learning. An electrician's education never ends. The on-the-job experience of an apprenticeship is essential to becoming a great electrician, but so is staying on top of code changes, new technology and new systems. Smart houses, electric cars and an otherwise growing dependence on complex electrical systems will keep U.S. electricians in demand for a long time to come.