Inside Electrician Careers

Things you need to know, but nobody tells you

Biggest Surprises

"Requires Lots Of Math Formulas...
I was surprised that being an electrician requires doing a lot of math. Almost every calculation from voltage drop to finding how big to cut a hole require you to use different math formulas. I had no idea so much math would be involved." (Electrician; 2013)

Career: 2 years of experience, currently based in Kansas, male
School: Studied Electrical Technology at Salina Area Technical College in Kansas; completed Associate degree in 2012

"Electrical Technology Is Quickly Advancing And Requires Constant Skill Updates...
I was surprised at the amount of math involved. I once thought it was just about connecting wires." (Electrician; 2013)

Career: 15 years of experience, currently based in Alabama, male
School: Studied Electrical Technology at JF Ingram in Alabama; completed Certificate degree in 2002

"Technology Changed So Fast In The Mining Industry ,Everyone Had To Become Computer Techs Overnight S...
I work inside the mine on this job for about 17 years, I works on 300 volts DC mostly, later the mine moved to more upgraded computerized systems but this old systems still run a lot of mining equipment ... I worked a lot of overhead work and work with a lot of ground beds ,etc" (Mine Wireman; 2013)

Career: , currently based in Pennsylvania
School: Studied Electronics at Rostraver Vocational in Pennsylvania in 1972

"Some Jobs Aren't As Hard As They Seem...
I was surprised at how easy it is" (Engineer; 2014)

Career: 4 years of experience, currently based in California, male
School: Studied Engineering at University Of Riverside in California; completed Bachelor degree in 2007

Best & Worst Things About This Career

Technician: "The best part of my job is learning the skills associated with being an electrician. This is my first year in this field and I am learning something new every day. I enjoy the getting dirty and troubleshooting things, as there is a crossover from electrical and computer work. My least favorite aspect of the job is the pain involved. Working around wood and metal, it is very common that I come home with a few cuts and scrapes. The worst pain is getting shocked. Other construction workers will turn a breaker back on without realizing we need it off, and the subsequent shock when touching the wires is very painful." (2011)

Licensed Electrician: "The best and worst part of the job is that when you finish one job, you don't know when or where the next one will be. I have worked on the roof of the Fleet Center (in Boston), which was awesome, and I have worked on a mechanical lift that went up to 180 feet. That was both scary and exciting. The worst part is maybe installing pipe in a 110 degree steam tunnel crawling on your belly in dirt. But no matter how lousy or great the conditions are, they are always over soon, so you can always get through it." (2010)

Career Background


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Career Video

Career Tips

"Becoming An Apprentice...
You should first get experience as an apprentice." (Engineer; 2014)

"The Danger And Complexity Of Electrical Work...
To become an electrician you must be highly skilled. Complex math computations are involved. Safety and detail orientation are also highly required." (Electrician; 2013)

"Better Jobs In Mining...
To get into mining get all the electrical background that you can get , you can make great money there and it is now a safe place to work" (Mine Wireman; 2013)

"Work As Many Hours As You Can...
To become a certified electrician make sure that you get plenty of hours in the field under your belt. Many states require a certain amount of hours in order to allow you to take your journeyman's test. It is very helpful to get your hours done early so you can focus on learning other things about the trade." (Electrician; 2013)

"Try Union For Training Positions...
Find your local electrical worker's union and find out if there are any training programs available. Most electricians begin their careers as helpers for a few years before moving on to become apprentices and then journeymen. Having your own tools is very important. You must have several screwdrivers, pliers, wirecutters, meters, and a pair of steel toed boots. One source of information available to all is the National Electrician's Code. It's a book of standards for electrical work, and is updated every three years. This book has all the information you need to get your work up to code." (Technician; 2011)

"Diversify To Endure Tough Times...
The major downside of being an electrician or any construction worker is that work can get slow during bad times. If no one has any money, no one can afford to pay you to work. It's good to diversify your abilities. I was once unemployed for nine months from my job. During that time I did small electrical work for my friends, and learned appliance repair. If you do get hired as an apprentice, make sure you show up on time, don't talk on the phone all day, listen and study. The test to become an electrician costs money so you don't want to fail." (Licensed Electrician; 2010)