Electricians are employed in a variety of workplaces. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 520,000 Americans were employed as electricians in 2012. The large majority of electricians, more than 360,000, are employed in the construction industry, but several tens of thousands of electricians are also employed in the facilities maintenance and manufacturing industries. Electricians must undertake an extensive training program to qualify to take a state licensing exam.
Education And Training
Electricians frequently work with currents strong enough to injure or even kill a human being, and improper electrical installations can be a shock or fire hazard. That is why it is important for electricians to be thoroughly trained. Electricians must complete a four-year apprenticeship or training program in order to qualify as a journeyman electrician and qualify for a state electrician's license. Electrician training programs include at least 144 hours of classroom training and 2,000 hours of paid professional experience supervised by licensed electricians every year.
Industrial electricians maintain and repair various types of electrical equipment in a plant setting. Almost all industrial equipment requires some kind of preventive maintenance, and maintenance of electrical equipment is a primary duty for plant electricians. Preventive maintenance on electrical equipment might include cleaning contacts, replacing fuses and batteries or even periodically replacing wiring or micro-controllers.
Installation And Repair
Manufacturing plant electricians also install and repair electrical equipment such as motors, pumps, transformers, generators, instruments, lighting systems and power distribution devices. Repairs can also involve replacing parts including wiring, fuses, circuit breakers and switches; measuring and installing conduits; using test lamps, volt-ohm meters and oscilloscopes; working from blueprints; performing computations to calculate current-carrying capacities; and troubleshooting or replacing programmable logic controllers.
Compensation And Prospects
The average wage for electricians was $53,030 in 2012, according to the BLS. Electricians employed in the ship and boat building industry came out on the low side of the wage scale with an average wage of $48,100. Those employed in the iron and steel mills and ferroalloy manufacturing industry earned somewhat more, with an average wage of $52,450. Job prospects are good for electricians, as the BLS is projecting a strong 23 percent growth rate for the profession from 2010 to 2020.
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