The electrical field is both a challenging and rewarding career path. Today’s electrician must be a forward thinking and highly adaptable individual to keep up with the constant evolution of technology and code requirements. With a nationwide shortage of skilled tradesmen, this may be a great time to start a career as an electrician. According to a 2019 report published by the Department of Labor, 7.6 million jobs went unfilled as many of these require specialized skills that are in demand. The average age of a licensed electrician is estimated to be 57 years old while the most common retirement age is 62. This leaves plenty of opportunity for young men and women currently interested in pursuing a career as an electrician.
The first step may be to decide whether you want to pursue a career as a union or non-union electrician. Both are great options and may provide different opportunities and career paths within the trade. Contact your local IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) chapter for info on a union apprenticeship or visit the Connecticut Office of Apprenticeship Training website to learn more about a non-union apprenticeship, sometimes referred to as “open shop” or “merit shop”.
Regardless of where you begin your training, you should expect a 4 to 5 year apprenticeship along with a minimum 720 classroom hour requirement to complete your training. The minimum number of hours required to test for your Connecticut electrical journeyman licensed is currently 8,000 hours of on the job training. The best way to complete the program is to fulfill your 720 required classroom hours at night so that your educational credits can be accomplished in conjunction with your on the job training. This will allow you to complete your apprenticeship as quickly as possible.
Keep in mind that in order to become a successful electrician you must have a great work ethic and good mechanical ability. It is not an easy career path and may not be for everyone. Normal job duties may include working in 100 degree attics, working outside in below freezing temperatures, working from heights, or working in dirty or dangerous environments. That being said it is probably one of the most rewarding careers you can possibly pursue. Not only is there nothing like being a skilled tradesman, there is also a ton of opportunity in this ever-changing field. From solar work and electrical vehicle charging stations to smart home automation and IoT lighting control there is an endless array of niche markets to focus on. From residential construction to industrial control wiring, the electrical trade has unlimited challenges and opportunities if you are willing to work hard and dedicate yourself. Not to mention, the learning never stops. As a licensed electrician you will be required to take continuing educational training every year to maintain an active license and you will be expected to keep up with both code and technology changes constantly as the trade continues to evolve at a rapid pace.
The biggest thing parents and students get wrong about starting a career in the trades is that it is some kind of “back up” career. I can’t tell you how many people have told me something along the lines of “trying college first, there is always a skilled trade if that doesn’t work out”. This line of thinking could not be further from the truth and is part of what has led to the skilled trade shortage in this country. The electrical trade is physically and mentally demanding. It’s a vital part of our economy and is a crucial part of the infrastructure that keeps this country going. Becoming a licensed electrician is an honor and a privilege that can only be achieved through determination, mental fortitude, grit, and a total commitment to your training. Electricians are well paid professionals that earn an above average income for a very good reason due to the complexities, danger, and demand on the career.
Do you have what it takes to become an electrician? Drop us a line with questions or comments!