Electrician Career Paths You Never Thought Of!
Let's face it! We want to know our options. Because electrician career paths diverge in many directions, you'll end up with a stack of choices.
Here's the thing, you won't need to worry about being stuck doing the same thing your entire career. There are many options and advancements possible in this trade - some you've probably never thought of!
Electrician Career Paths: What are my options?
Check out the infographic below for a snapshot of the many job options in the electrical career path. Then read further for the meat and potatoes of each job.
Don't forget to read our Complete Guide on How to Become an Electrician. You'll find everything you need to know to start your career as an electrician.
Job Descriptions On the Electrician's Career Path
Ok, let's dive into actual job descriptions on the electrician's career path. The path starts with an apprenticeship, moves to journeyman, and then can progress in numerous directions.
Let's dig into the meat and potatoes!
An electrician's helper is an optimal way to see if a career as an electrician is a good fit. You don't need to be licensed or take classes. Your job duties may include hauling materials, drilling holes for wires, pulling wires, and cutting holes for outlets and switches. Your boss may ask you to test wires with a voltage meter and even disconnect old and faulty components. You will surely build muscle digging trenches by hand.
Cons: Not available everywhere. There are restrictions in multiple areas for this position.
On-the-job training is a proven approach to learning. An apprentice works under direct supervision of a licensed electrician, while also taking approved classes. A significant benefit is getting paid while you learn.
Each state has different requirements. But you can expect your training to take a total of 4-5 years that includes close to 8,000 hours of hands-on learning and at least 288 hours in the classroom. It is a great way to learn and you will be prepared to test for your journeyman’s license when you are done!
Gain experience in residential, commercial and/or industrial jobs. Prove yourself a valuable employee as you install, repair, and maintain electrical systems. You will learn to read blueprints and provide cost estimates, troubleshoot wiring and equipment, and interact with other tradesmen on a professional level.
Mike Maraviglia, an electrical Supervisor at the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, shares his work and apprenticeship experiences.
A journeyman electrician that develops experience and skill, has opportunity to advance to many positions within the electrical field. (The video above is one example.)
Read on for job descriptions on the electrician's career path. BUT remember that duties can overlap/vary from company to company.
- Foreman: Coordinate and oversee the workings of a job site, including the crew. Strong leadership skills are needed.
- Supervisor: Assist in planning and scheduling work. You will manage meetings, team-building, and ensure compliance to laws, safety, and work orders.
- Project Manager: Be highly involved in relationship with customers. Read drawings/specs to determine scope of project. Monitor progress of job sites and ensure adherence to contract documents. You must have the ability to solve practical problems.
- Estimator: Analyze plans/drawings and specifications to prepare time, cost, and labor estimates for projects. Identify omissions or inaccuracies in subcontractor bids.
- Sales Representative: Give presentations, proposals, and quotes to customers. Implement sales plans. Be self-motivated with strong negotiation and relationship building skills.
- Sales Manager: Establish sales objectives and direct the quote and pricing process. Oversee all sales representatives. Liaison with customer and project staff providing assistance with scope changes, design modifications and various project needs.
- Purchasing Agent: Employ procedures that obtain top quality products at the most competitive price. Process purchase orders/requisitions. Schedule and coordinate delivery of materials and equipment to job sites.
- Inspector: Examine and test electrical systems for conformance with local code, specification, and ordinance requirements. Must have the ability to interpret codes in the field and provide code compliant solutions. Prepare and submit reports.
- Instructor/Trainer: Provide quality instruction through well-prepared classes and labs. Demonstrate electrical practices to engineering standards and electrical codes. Document student progress. Must have high ability to communicate accurately.
- Project Engineer: Design and troubleshoot electrical control systems. Provide evaluations and recommendations for proposed plans. Design circuitry for any special sequences of operation requested by customers. Must have a good mechanical inclination.
- Superintendent: Oversee and be responsible for all electrical project functions including budget, resources, and schedule. Coordinate with contractors and sub-contractors. You will need excellent communication skills.
To be clear, these job positions and descriptions are not all inclusive. Large companies may have many levels of managers and supervisors. Do you enjoy overseeing people and projects? In that case, you should have plenty of opportunity to utilize your skills in larger companies.
Check out our Salary Guide for electricians also.
Licensed Master electricians have extensive job knowledge and proficient understanding of the National Electrical Code. They are the electricians that have authority to pull permits for jobs. (In rare cases, a journeyman may pull a permit.)
At this point on the electrician's career path, you should see an increase in your wages and have wider opportunities.
To qualify to take your Master's Exam you need to complete the following (can vary state to state):
- Work an average of 2 years as a Journeyman
- Complete at least 4,000 documented hours as a Journeyman electrician.
- Take classes - a few jurisdictions require this.
Business Owner/Electrical Contractor
If desired, you can own your own electrical contracting company. Some states require a master electrician to be affiliated with your company, while others require you to only have a contractor's license.
How to Succeed as a Business Owner in the Electrical Contracting field
The successful business owner in the electrical contracting field needs to do at least one thing. Prepare!
I recommend laying the groundwork of your journey by educating yourself. Start with the following books:
Not everyone is suited for a career as a business owner. Knowing your trade is not the same as knowing how to run a business. Consider the following demands:
- Willingness to work longer days, especially in the early years
- Understand proper accounting principles, tax laws, etc.
- Know the basic formulas to set profit margins
- Master the sales process
- Maintain good management and people skills
- Stay educated on the trade and business acumen
The good news? You can and should earn more as a business owner. Otherwise, why deal with the extra responsibilities and headaches? Keep in mind that in lean times, you may need to be the last one paid.
Learn from Other Business Owners
I am a strong believer in learning from others' successes and failures.
Follow this thread on reddit to dip into the business experiences of several electrical contractors.
5 Tips to Get A Job Promotion
Before you think about advancing in this field, ask yourself: Am I willing to do what it takes to be successful? There is no reason you can not work your way through the electrician career path to the position you desire.
Check out these quick reminders of the character and grit it takes to get a job promotion and advance - in any career really.
- Have an exceptional work ethic: Be reliable. Go the extra mile! Strive to be someone your boss can't do without.
- Keep Learning: Ask questions. Never pass up an opportunity to increase your knowledge and skill set. Show your interest in the profession.
- Stay positive: Develop harmonious relationships with fellow workers. Don't complain or gossip.
- Fess-Up: If you make a mistake, report it. Honesty is still the best policy - your Mom was right.
- Ask for feedback: Unless you have a very unusual boss, asking how you can improve as an employee (and following the advice!) will make a lasting impression.
Are you truly on the fence regarding your career? Then I recommend the book, Strengths Finder 2.0. It includes an online assessment to help you discover your top 5 talents. Make smart career choices based on the results.
I wish you the best as you pursue a position on the electrician career path. It is a fascinating field that continues to evolve as new technologies are discovered and implemented. In the future, I see even more positions opening up.
Go forth and conquer!
I welcome all comments and questions. I have worked over 2 decades as an electrician, and I will do my best to answer your questions.
The Electrical Guy