Electricity is essential for light, power, air-conditioning, and refrigeration. Electricians install, connect, test, and maintain electrical systems for a variety of purposes, including climate control, security, and communications. Although most electricians specialize in either construction or maintenance, a growing number do both.
Electricians work with blueprints when they install electrical systems in factories, office buildings, homes, and other structures. Blueprints indicate the locations of circuits, outlets, load centers, and other equipment. Electricians must follow the National Electric Code and comply with State and Local building codes when they install the systems. In factories and offices, they first place conduit (pipe or tubing) inside designated walls, or other concealed areas. They also fasten to the wall, small metal or plastic boxes that will house electrical switches and outlets. They then pull insulated wires or cables through the conduit to complete circuits between these boxes.
Regardless of the type of wire used, electricians connect it to circuit breakers, transformers, or other components. They join the wires in boxes with various specially designed connectors. After they finish the wiring, they use testing equipment, such as ohmmeters, voltmeters, and oscilloscopes, to check the circuits for proper connections, ensuring electrical compatibility and safety of components.
In addition to wiring a building, electricians may install coaxial or fiber optic cable for computers and other telecommunications equipment. A growing number of electricians install telephone systems, computer wiring and equipment, and fire alarm and security systems. They may also connect power and install electronic controls for industrial equipment.
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Employment of electricians is projected to grow 20 percent from 2012 to 2022, faster than the average for all occupations. As homes and businesses require more wiring, electricians will be needed to install the necessary components. Electricians with the widest variety of skills should have the best job opportunities.
|Journeyman ELECTRICIAN’s Median Pay||$39,980+ per year; $19.22 per hour|
Wage Survey, NEFBA Apprenticeship Participating Employers (May 2014)
|Number of Jobs, 2012||583,500|
|Job Outlook, 2012-22||20% (Faster than average)|
|Employment Change, 2012-22||114,700|
United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (Jan. 2014)
Meet NEFBA Apprenticeship Electrical Graduate
Elizabeth Henry, 1985 graduate of NEFBA’s electrical apprentice program, received her journeyman’s license the same year and was the first, licensed female electrician in Duval County. After a 25-year career at St. Johns River Power Park, she was free to take jobs in other parts of the world such as Afghanistan, Iraq and China.
Henry is a staunch advocate of apprentice training and credits the NEFBA program with an exciting, lucrative career. We asked her why she chose NEFBA’s electrical program.
“Usually, when people ask me why I chose the electrical trade, I tell them it was because I wanted to get a charge out of life,” she said. “And the reality is I was a single mom, raising two children when I saw a magazine ad that read, ‘Earn while you learn,’ with a picture of a woman working on a pole with a side pouch on. I was trapped in a dead end job, raising two young children on a small salary by myself. I had lost the hope to even dream.”
Henry had dreamed of getting a college degree so she could teach, but she needed an income and could not afford college. So she called the number in the ad, got the information she needed and determined to take action.
After four years of working full time during the day, going to college at night while raising two children, Henry graduated and set her on a career path that has led her to exciting places and opportunities.
Of her overseas experiences, Henry said, “The sky is the limit when you enter the continuing-education, never-boring, field of the Quantum Energy Force of Electrical. And, the money was great.”