Wherever buildings, facilities, homes or businesses use electrical equipment and power systems, maintenance electricians are responsible for ensuring these systems operate properly. These electricians can often be employed in the construction of buildings as well as serve to maintain electrical equipment once it is in use. These workers must usually follow state and local building codes when performing their duties and maintaining or repairing electrical equipment.
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Whenever electrical equipment breaks down or needs repair, maintenance electricians are there to do their job. These workers are often tasked with repairing circuit breakers, replacing old switches, tracking down electrical shorts and generally ensuring the electrical systems of any building are working safely. They can also periodically inspect and test electrical systems and recommend fixes or replacement strategies appropriate to the situation.
Education and Training
Most electricians learn their profession through a combination of on-the-job training, classroom instruction and apprenticeship with a more experienced and licensed electrician. Unions that train electricians through apprentice programs generally provide enough training to qualify students as both a maintenance and construction electrician. Most of these programs last four years, with each year including at least 144 hours of classroom instruction and another 2,000 hours of work-related training. Most states require electricians to be licensed, though the specific requirements vary by state.
Maintenance electricians can work indoors or outdoors depending on the nature of the project. They must often perform strenuous activities such as lifting heavy objects, bending electrical conduits or accessing equipment in hard-to-reach places. Electricians must often follow strict safety protocols, as the nature of their work often brings them into contact with high-voltage areas and potentially deadly work environments. These workers experience a work-related injury rate that is higher than the national average.
Maintenance electricians, in addition to having a broad base of knowledge of electrical systems, must be detail-oriented. A high degree of manual dexterity and physical fitness is often required, as is the need for good colour recognition, as many electrical wires are differentiated by colour. They must also be able to communicate effectively with other workers, especially when diagnosing problems.
Jobs and Salary
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that there were about 695,000 electrician jobs in 2008, about 9 per cent of which were self-employed. Job growth in this field is expected to be good, especially for workers with skills involving voice, data and video wiring. The average salary for these workers in 2008 was about £14 an hour. The middle 50 per cent of electricians earned between £11 and £19 an hour, with the top 10 per cent earned over £24 an hour.
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