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Are you considering a career as an electrician?
As of March 2020, according to the BLS, it’s an in-demand career option with a well above average projected growth of 10% between 2018 and 2028. Still, according to the BLS, as of March 2020, the median pay is $55,190 per year, making it a good-paying career option.
Becoming an electrical trainee is the first step to becoming an electrician. But you’ll need other skills and traits to succeed in the industry beyond your electrician training.
Keep reading to see what you need beyond training to succeed as an electrician.
When you’re an electrician, your days are more than just work and wires, you will also need to communicate with your clients and co-workers.
You want to communicate well with your customers to provide the best customer service possible. Communication is also important in figuring out the problem. You need to be able to ask the right questions and listen to the answers to get to the root of the problem.
On some job sites, there might be other tradespeople working at the same time, such as plumbers, drywall installers, and carpenters. This is often the case on new builds. You’ll have to communicate with them to coordinate all manner of different aspects for the project, keeping everything on schedule.
You’ll also communicate regularly with the other employees at your company. You might receive communications from the administrative staff on the location and details of your next job.
Sometimes you might collaborate with other electricians on projects. You need to talk through the issue to ensure you’re on the same page and get the work done efficiently. You may also need to report to your supervisor regularly about your work.
Eventually, you might be given the task of training apprentices. If you can’t clearly explain what you’re doing and talk about your apprentices through different tasks, you won’t be an efficient trainer.
Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
The source of electrical problems isn’t always obvious. In many cases, there could be several possible causes, or there could be multiple issues with the electrical system.
Before you can fix the electrical problem, you need to diagnose the issue. That takes critical thinking to tap into your electrical knowledge.
If it’s something you’ve never encountered before, you’ll need to use your electrical knowledge to come up with a solution.
While you’re in training, you’ll have an electrician to guide you and confirm your decisions. But once you’re certified, you’ll likely work on your own frequently. You’ll need the confidence and ability to make those decisions alone.
Working in the electrical field comes with inherent risks. You have the immediate risk to yourself of electrocution.
But the danger also comes in the long term if you don’t complete the work correctly. Faulty wiring can cause house fires that can be devastating and deadly.
As an electrician, you need a mind for safety. Working methodically and following your training ensures you complete your jobs correctly and safely.
Even if you don’t want to run your own electrical business someday, you need a solid understanding of business skills to perform well for your employer. Taking a business-minded approach keeps customers satisfied, which keeps your boss happy.
Providing top-notch customer service is one such skill. You need to present yourself professionally and be respectful, courteous, and patient with customers.
If you start your own business or work as an independent contractor, you’ll need to keep accurate records of your electrical work. You’ll need to handle invoicing, tax preparation, and other financial tasks.
Electrician school is only the beginning of the learning you’ll do in the field. Electricians need to continuously learn about the codes, safety, and skills in the area. This helps you stay current and improve your skills to become a better electrician.
Continuing education is also required to renew your certification. In California, you need 32 hours of continuing education for certification renewal.
Beyond taking courses to fulfill the requirements, wanting to learn more about the trade is a sign of someone who’s committed. It also shows that you want to be the best possible electrician, which keeps you and your customers safer.
The electrical field is very technical, and if you don’t have a mechanical and technical aptitude, it may be a challenging career for you. Likewise, if you don’t like that type of work, you likely won’t stay happy long-term in the field.
You’ll need a strong understanding of the various building codes and regulations that guide electrical work. You’ll regularly use power tools and work with various electrical materials. Reading blueprints is also part of the job.
If you like to tinker with things and take things apart, being an electrician might be a good fit for you. That’s especially true if you seem to have a natural talent for also putting things back together. If you get easily frustrated by hands-on projects, electrical work might be a frustrating career for you.
Being an electrician may not seem like something that requires endurance, but you’ll need a certain level of physical fitness to do the job well. You won’t spend much time sitting as an electrician, but you may have to crouch and bend frequently to reach different areas.
You might need to shimmy your body into small spaces to access electrical components. Other jobs require you to climb ladders or work on scaffolding.
At times, you’ll need to carry heavy equipment or materials to the job site.
Your fine motor skills are also important in electrical work. You’ll need manual dexterity to work with small wires, connectors, and tools. Hand-eye coordination is also important to put everything together.
Electrical work doesn’t always happen during business hours. You’ll likely have to take turns being on call to handle emergency after-hours work.
Sometimes those emergencies can last long into the night. Even regular jobs that start during the day could take longer than expected. You may need to work extra hours to get the job done.
Being flexible is important to live with that type of unpredictable schedule.
Beyond Electrician Training
While electrician training is a big part of pursuing your dreams of working as an electrician, you need other skills as well to succeed. Working on those skills now better prepares you for your first career in the field.
Are you ready for a career change? Explore our electrical technician training program to see if it’s a good fit for you, especially if you have the other skills and traits it takes to be an electrician.