Electrician Trades: Career and Degree Information

Nov 08, 2021

Electrical installers and repairers, line installers and repairers, and power plant operators are some of the career options for those interested in working in the electrician trades. A high school diploma may be sufficient to begin a career in electrician trades, although postsecondary training is preferred by most employers. On-the-job training, certification and licensure may also be preferred or required.

Essential Information

Those looking for a technical career may be interested in electrician trades. There are many career fields for these professionals, such as power plant operations and electrical installation and repair. Controls for power, lighting and air conditioning are maintained by these electrical professionals. In order to learn the skills necessary to work in this field, students can complete apprenticeships or associate and certificate programs through technical and community colleges. Subjects covered in these programs may include state and federal electrical codes and residential/commercial wiring.

Career Electrical Installer and Repairer Liner Installer and Repairer Power Plant Operator
Education Requirements Postsecondary non-degree award High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training preferred by employers High school diploma or equivalent; postsecondary training preferred by employers
Other Requirements Voluntary certification available Extensive on-the-job training or apprenticeship required Licensure and extensive on-the-job training required
Job Growth(2019-2029)* 2% (for electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment) -2% -15%
Median Salary (2020)* $70,200 (for electrical and electronics installers and repairers, transportation equipment) $58,870 $84,650

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Options

Individuals looking to work in the electrical field usually only need to have a high school diploma, but certifications and licenses may be required. Below are overviews and descriptions of three possible career options for electrician trade graduates.

Electrical Installer and Repairer

Electrical installers work for businesses, industry and private customers, installing and maintaining electrical and electronic equipment. Those who work for power companies might work as field technicians, visiting the homes and businesses of clients to install and hook up power connections. Others, called bench technicians, might work in factories, repairing electrical equipment that cannot be removed from the premises. Still others work in power plants or on power relays and transformer stations. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects employment in this field to decline between 2019 and 2029, as electrical equipment becomes more reliable and there is less need for maintenance work. As of 2020, the mean annual salary for an electrical installer and repairer was $70,440, per the BLS.

Line Installer and Repairer

Electrical power line installers and repairers represent that crucial step between the power plant and your house: the transmission lines. These workers set up poles, dig trenches and excavate or cut down impediments in order to lay electrical wire. They are also responsible for repairing downed or cut power lines after storms or other disruptions, and need to be familiar not only with lines and cables but with electrical equipment used in the field such as relay stations and transformers. According to the BLS, overall employment in this field is expected decline between 2019 and 2029. This is largely due to population growth and expansion of cities, which calls for new lines and continued maintenance. In 2020, the BLS reported median hourly salary for a line installer and repairer was $28.30. Telecommunications line installers and repairers earned a median salary of $58,870, per year.

Power Plant Operator

Power plant operators control electricity machinery as well as the flow of power over the lines. These workers have enormous responsibility to maintain regular operations to ensure that power reaches its destinations. Operators in power plants that have automated control systems work mainly in a central control room, but in older plants, operators might control the flow of power from a central point or throughout the plant. Nuclear power plant operators are approved to check and control equipment that directly affects the reactor. According to the BLS, employment is this field is expected experience no change, due to increased promotion of energy efficiency. The mean annual salary for power plant operators was $81,890 in 2020, per the BLS.

Electrical installers install and maintain electrical equipment for businesses or private customers. Line installers and repairers connect customers to the power plant through transmission lines, and must repair lines if needed. Power plant operators oversee the power flow over the lines from the plant to customers.

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