Planning Ahead: 5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Becoming an Electrician

Have you seen the annual salaries of some electricians? If so, this may have fueled your own desire to become one. After all, even those electricians just starting out frequently make close to $20 an hour – that’s well over the average hourly starting rate in many other industries. However, there are some key pieces of information to know before getting too wired over the idea of being an electrician. For starters, here are five.

1. It’s a highly skilled position.

Every electrician is properly trained in the field, meaning it’s never a job you just apply for without the right background. Whether or not you attend trade school, you should most certainly get hired as an apprentice first, and spend a few years in this position before striking out on your own.

2. It is inherently dangerous.

The reason training is so essential lies partly within the fact that an electrician’s work is usually dangerous. Every job brings with it the risk of being electrocuted. And like any other contractor, an electrician needs construction liability insurance. All told, you need enough training to feel confident that you can avoid many common risks, as well as knowing what to do in the event of an accident.

3. There are different types of electricians.

Not every electrician performs the same type of work in the same type of setting. For instance, some electricians work residentially, some commercially, and some do both. Some specialize in wiring new constructions, while others focus on maintenance. Research what electricians in your area are currently covering to see if there’s a need you can fulfill. Otherwise, you can choose what sounds best to you – do you mainly want to work in people’s already-constructed homes? If so, you might be looking to specialize in residential maintenance and repair.

4. It helps to be physically fit.

One thing many hopeful young electricians realize early on is that your fitness level really counts. This is a big reason aging electricians may take on young apprentices as they develop aches and pains later in life. Electricians stand, crouch, climb, and much more – all day long. Add in the constant situational awareness required, and you have what may be a very physically demanding job. In addition, you must be alert with exceptional fine motor skills. Wires are typically thin little things, after all.

5. Math skills matter, too.

When you were in school, the idea of algebra probably frustrated you at times. When would you ever need this in the real world? Well, electricians use algebra all the time. They need it for power calculations and voltage drops across cables, on top of other math skills relevant to selecting transformers and panel sizes. If you were never great at math, this is another good reason to attend school and really work for that apprenticeship – you can still learn the math skills needed for the job.

So there you have it. Being an electrician requires much more physical prowess and mathematical skill than many assume. You essentially have to possess, to some degree, the fitness level of a serious laborer along with the critical thinking skills of a scholar. Add in an element of danger, and you have a rewarding career that’s sure to keep you on your toes.

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