Careers In The Trades: Electrician

GB Electrical Services Team of Electricians. (Photo GB Electrical Services)

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CHARLOTTE – For high school students and those seeking a second career who enjoy problem-solving, becoming an electrician can be a rewarding endeavor to pursue.

Electrical Panel Installation in New Home.
Electrical Panel Installation in new home.

Electricians are highly-skilled individuals who are responsible for the installation, repair, maintenance, and upgrading of electrical equipment in both residential and commercial environments. Electricity is so vital to an organization’s operations that many employ an on-call electrician as part of their staff or as an independent contractor. From movie sets to construction sites, electricians are highly valued and well-paid. Electricians have to go through several years of specialized trade school before they can start their apprenticeship. Even when they are fully qualified, professional licensed electricians will need to attend training classes to keep up with the latest regulations, codes, and technology.



Some of the tasks an electrician might need to perform are the following:

  • Installation of lighting fixtures
  • Running wires through walls, attics, and floors
  • Repairing alarm, safety, and security systems
  • Designing and implementing wiring and electrical plans
  • Setting up electrical switch boxes and panels
  • Performing diagnostics on electrical systems and installations
  • Installing and repairing generators
  • Installing electrical connections in hot tubs and pools
  • Supervising other electricians on a job site
GB Electrical Services van.
GB Electrical Services van.

As you can recognize, qualified licensed electricians play an important role in local communities, industry, and within our society.

There are several steps one must take when becoming an electrician. The first and most important step is a solid education. Most trade, vocational, technical, and community colleges offer training programs. There are also online electrician school programs available. Obtaining a properly-focused education in your craft makes an individual more employable and may ultimately garner higher compensation over the long term. Some programs locally include Carolinas Electrical Trade Institute (CETI), York Technical College, Gaston College, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Central Piedmont Community College, and Bright Institute/University.

Electrical diagnostics.
Electrical diagnostics.

The second step is to begin an apprenticeship in which you will gain valuable experience and learn from a highly experienced master electrician over a period of 2-4 years. Once you have completed your apprenticeship, you will be able to take the state’s journeyman examination and become a fully licensed electrician. GB Electrical Services LLC in Mint Hill might be an option for an apprenticeship. “We have two apprentices who are gaining valuable experience with lab training to practice skills including on the job experience with licensed electricians,” said Greg Bartholomy, Owner.

Some of the basic qualifications for pursuing a career as an electrician are the following:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be in good physical condition
  • Have reliable transportation to school and job sites
  • Have the ability to work independently and in groups
  • Be able to follow instructions and pay attention to detail
  • Have technical ability and understand technical plans
  • Be proficient in basic math skills and algebra
  • Possess good communication and customer service skills

There are a number of different levels of electrical qualifications that an individual can progress through at different stages of their development as they gain more experience. There are also ways an electrician can specialize in a particular area of expertise. The more qualified, including the more specialized, an electrician becomes, the higher their compensation will be for services rendered.

Apprentice Electricians perform tasks under and are trained by a master electrician. Normally an apprentice will take classes and gain experience on the job for 2-4 years. Then they can take an exam to become a journeyman electrician.

Journeyman Electricians are able to perform electrical duties and functions without the supervision of a master electrician. At this point, many electricians decide to specialize and select their career paths. After a journeyman electrician has completed several years of additional real-world experience, along with the required training, they qualify to take the master electrician exam.

Master Electricians have reached the highest level of certification and are able to train and supervise both apprentice and journeyman electricians. Some master electricians become entrepreneurs and start their own business or purchase an established business when the previous owner retires.  Others are employed as contractors for various businesses. There can be excellent income generated from these opportunities, which is a great incentive to pursue becoming a master electrician.

Vehicle Electricians are journeymen or higher technicians who specialize in electrical systems in autos, motorcycles, trucks, etc. They are normally paid more than the standard electrician due to the technical nature of their specialty.

However, there are other areas of specialization which could be pursued. In today’s environment solar energy is growing, commercial fire alarm systems, surge protection, and so many other options are available to licensed electricians.

The bottom line is that electricians are well-educated, highly-trained and skilled in their profession. They are very employable and are well-paid. An electrician depending upon the location can make from $50,000 annually as an apprentice to upwards of $90,000 or more annually as a master electrician. A six-figure income is certainly achievable in medium to larger companies in management, a general contractor, or as a business owner.

“In North Carolina there are 12,000 licensed electricians, however, the average age is 70 with less than 100 under the age of 30. This means there is a large demand for newly trained licensed electricians,” said Bartholomy. Therefore, it is very clear a huge opportunity exists in the trades for long term career success.

Becoming an electrician is an excellent choice in pursuing an exciting career from high school graduation or making a career change.

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Ed Berti
Ed is retired and remains active as a freelance writer, local journalist and independent contractor. He is engaged in print and electronic media writing stories covering business, sports, hometown news and veteran's affairs including articles of interest to various media outlets. Ed is a graduate of Wagner College where he earned an MBA and holds a BBA from Pace University.
Ed can be reached at ed@minthilltimes.com, eberti7777@gmail.com and linkedin.com.