Chapter Corner

Apprenticeship

Careers

There are many diverse and rewarding career opportunities in the field of electricity. Because society’s need for electricity continues to be on the increase, opportunities will exist into the future regardless of changing technologies. Below is a sampling of some of the more common jobs available in the electrical contracting industry.

Types of jobs

Electrician’s Helper – Assists electricians by handling a bulk of the materials, caring for and organizing equipment.

Apprentice Electrician – Installs, alters, adds and/or repairs electrical systems, conductors and associated materials and equipment under the supervision of a journeyman electrician. (While completing 2,000 of on-the-job training and 144 hours of classroom instruction.)

Journeyman Electrician – Installs, alters, adds and/or repairs electrical systems, conductors and associated materials and equipment. May work independently of direct technical supervision.  Supervises apprentices.  Holds a journeyman’s license in states requiring journeyman licensing. Will read blueprints, terminate cable, install and troubleshoot control wiring from drawings.

Master Electrician – Installs, alters, adds and/or repairs electrical systems, conductors and associated materials and equipment. A master electrician may supervise journeymen electricians. This classification is sometime synonymous with the term “electrical contractor.” This classification is not recognized in all states.

Lead Person – Installs, alters, adds and/or repairs electrical systems, conductors and associated materials and equipment. Has a journeyman’s license. Works from plans and specifications, supervises small crews of journeymen, apprentices and helpers.

Area Supervisor – Installs, alters, adds and/or repairs electrical systems, conductors and associated materials and equipment. Has a journeyman’s license. Leads and works along with crew. Lays out the work and makes certain that the proper materials, tools and equipment are on the jobsite in their proper places. Schedules and may supervise one or multiple small crews.

Project Supervisor – Installs, alters, adds and/or repairs electrical systems, conductors and associated materials and equipment. Has a journeyman’s license. This person is responsible for all the field employees on a project, taking care of daily reports and forms, monitors the work and adheres to schedules.

Estimator – Develops profitable bid proposals, calculates takeoffs, and ensures that the company's best interests are represented, including profitability & cost control. Provides careful analysis of project plans to guarantee accurate labor, supply, and time schedule estimates.

Basically, successful electricians can become foremen, supervisors, estimators, etc; can move into management positions; and even eventually run their own electrical contracting businesses. Your drive and abilities determine how far you go. There are no boundaries, and employment in the electrical industry provides equal opportunity for anyone who has the talent and desire to succeed.

Compensation

Because of the technical complexity of their jobs, Electricians are among the most highly compensated of the skilled trades.   

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median hourly earnings of a certified electrician for 2016 was $25.35 ($52,720 per year) with the highest 10 percent earning more than $90,420. Apprentices usually start at between 40 and 50 percent of the rate paid to experienced electricians. Apprenticeship programs guarantee wage increases at certain intervals making it possible for the apprentice to at least double their earnings during their training.

2016 Bureau of Labor and Statistics Median Pay (per hour) for construction occupations:

Field Mean hourly wage
Plumbers, Pipefitters, and Steamfitters $24.74/hour
Electricians  $25.35/hour
Carpenters  $20.96/hour
Cement Masons and Concrete Finishers $21.02/hour
Painters, Construction, and Maintenance                  $18.06/hour
Construction Laborers $18.22/hour