Job Outlook | Excellent Opportunities Expected for Electricians

Job Outlook from the US Department of Labor – Bureau of Labor Statistics

Earnings

In May 2006, median hourly earnings of wage and salary electricians were $20.97. The middle 50 percent earned between $16.07 and $27.71. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $12.76, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $34.95. Median hourly earnings in the industries employing the largest numbers of electricians were:

Motor vehicle parts manufacturing $31.90
Electric power generation, transmission, and distribution 26.32
Local government 23.80
Nonresidential building construction 20.58
Electrical contractors 20.47
Plumbing, heating, and air-conditioning contractors 19.56
Employment services 17.15

Apprentices usually start at between 40 and 50 percent of the rate paid to fully trained electricians, depending on experience. As apprentices become more skilled, they receive periodic pay increases throughout their training.

Some electricians are members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Among unions representing maintenance electricians are the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; the International Union of Electronic, Electrical, Salaried, Machine, and Furniture Workers; the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers; the International Union, United Automobile, Aircraft and Agricultural Implement Workers of America; and the United Steelworkers of America.

Significant Points

  • Job opportunities should be very good, especially for those with the broadest range of skills.
  • Most electricians acquire their skills by completing an apprenticeship program lasting 4 to 5 years. (Much Faster via Advance Electrical Training)
  • About 4 out of 5 electricians work in the construction industry or are self-employed, but there also will be opportunities for electricians in other industries.

Job Outlook

Average employment growth is expected. Job prospects should be very good, particularly for workers with the widest range of skills, including voice, data, and video wiring.

Employment change. Employment of electricians should increase 7 percent between 2006 and 2016, about as fast as the average for all occupations. As the population and economy grow, more electricians will be needed to install and maintain electrical devices and wiring in homes, factories, offices, and other structures. An increase in power plant construction over the next ten years will require many additional electricians. New technologies also are expected to continue to spur demand for these workers. For example, buildings increasingly need wiring to accommodate computers and telecommunications equipment. Robots and other automated manufacturing systems in factories also will require the installation and maintenance of more complex wiring systems. As the economy rehabilitates and retrofits older structures, which usually require electrical improvements to meet modern codes, it will create additional jobs.

Job Prospects

In addition to jobs created by the increased demand for electrical work, many openings are expected over the next decade as a large number of electricians retire. This will create very good job opportunities, especially for those with the widest range of skills, including voice, data, and video wiring. Job openings for electricians will vary by location and specialty, however, and will be best in the fastest growing regions of the country, especially those areas where power plants are being constructed.

Employment of electricians, like that of many other construction workers, is sensitive to the fluctuations of the economy. Workers in these trades may experience periods of unemployment when the overall level of construction falls. On the other hand, shortages of these workers may occur in some areas during peak periods of building activity.

Although employment of maintenance electricians is steadier than that of construction electricians, those working in the automotive and other manufacturing industries that are sensitive to cyclical swings in the economy may experience lay offs during recessions. In addition, opportunities for maintenance electricians may be limited in many industries by the increased contracting out for electrical services in an effort to reduce operating costs. However, increased job opportunities for electricians in electrical contracting firms should partially offset job losses in other industries.

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