- Features | September 8, 2015
The New Electrician and the State of the Industry
As can be imagined, the electrical industry is dramatically different than it was in 1857—when Klein Tools first set up shop. After years of watching things change, it’s clear now, more than ever, electricians are in a period of renaissance. Those just entering the field as well as those more senior are seeing how industrial advancements and generational influences play roles in the profession today. And in the midst of change, the field is growing.
Klein Tools recently released a “State of the Industry” survey, which confirms consumer trends we’ve seen throughout the years among both union and non-union electricians. Electricians are entering the field due to a steady demand for construction, both residential and industrial. They’re also joining for job security. More than one-third of electricians entered the field because they believe it is always in demand, and two-fifths entered recognizing an opportunity for long-term security. Baby Boomers are leaving the profession, which creates greater need for young electricians to get out on job sites. In fact, more than two-fifths of electricians say they’ve seen an increase in electricians leaving the field, likely due to high rates of retirement. But while there is consistent project demand, there is an emphasis on more experience.
A majority of electricians believe there are not enough experienced electricians. Two-thirds think there is a shortage of electricians with sufficient job experience. But interestingly, two-fifths believe there are not enough entry-level electricians at job sites. Rising demand in building development is creating a need for electricians with all levels of experience; it’s also creating a need for up-to-date training on new products and building standards.
There is a considerable gap in the amount of training electricians receive, and many disagree on the amount of training they think is necessary. More than one-half of electricians have received 1,000 or more hours of training, and two-thirds of electricians with fewer than 10 years of professional experience have received less than 250 hours of training. Equally, more than one-half of electricians believe 1,000 or more hours of training is necessary to becoming an effective electrician. More than one-half of entry-level electricians believe less than 250 hours of training is enough. Some with less than 10 years’ experience even believe they’ve had too much training.
Also observed in Klein’s study are electricians’ altering project preferences. Electricians have varying interests in types of work, which differ by years of experience. Electrical professionals with 20 or more years of experience are much less likely to prefer working in new home construction. And as a whole, many we surveyed said they prefer to work on industrial or utility projects, as well as commercial. What’s curious here is recognition of growth in housing and residential work, along with an increase in smart or connected homes. More than one-half of electricians identify connected homes as a current residential housing trend, and as such, one-third say they are doing more residential work. This will likely push the new sprout of electrical talent towards housing, whether or not it is their preference.
What hasn’t changed much in the electrical industry are the reasons why electricians buy hand tools. Performance and durability are cited as some of the most important factors in a hand-tool purchase. Also significant is the safety and efficiency of tools and whether or not tools are manufactured by a brand electricians trust. Made-in-the-U.S.A. is another major factor. Four in five electricians say this is very important or important to them in hand tool purchases.