Becoming an electrician is an excellent career move for anyone who has a passion for solving problems, enjoys working with their hands and doesn’t mind being covered in grease on a daily basis.
It’s skilled work and in high demand, so getting started as an electrician should be more accessible than ever, right? Maybe not. Just like every job, there are ways to fall short, and there are ways to get ahead. Starting a business is a game of competition, and skill is not the only factor that will bring you to the top. In any job, it’s important to be aware of the opportunities to take action when you see one that’s right for you.
As an electrician, there are lots of paths ahead of you. From contract work to starting your own company, there are more commitments and room for failure than your standard office job. So here are some tips to help you get ahead of the crowd.
Stay up-to-date on tools and software.
As a tool-heavy trade, electricians have a long list of equipment they need to do their job. Unfortunately, tracking it all can be tricky, especially when you started learning one thing that’s now passe. Furthermore, with more and more systems integrated with the internet and AI software, standard techniques might also not apply. Simply put, you want everything on your electrician tool belts to match what you will be working on in the field.
Many options are available for keeping up with electricians’ latest tools and software. For example, you can join your local electrician’s union, where you’ll receive up-to-date information on the latest tools and software. You can also follow your favorite companies online, like manufacturers and suppliers of equipment, to see what’s new. In addition, you can join online forums to talk with other electricians and ask questions. Another option is to find an apprenticeship program in your area, where you can learn the latest tools and software and meet other electricians.
You want to be ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping your business booming. So when your competitors aren’t yet well versed in something like AI lighting systems, make sure that you’re already putting them in daily.
Find your niche.
That being said, finding your niche in the industry is essential. So, first, learn the most in-demand areas of the trade, and get in with those contractors. Then, you can go to the source and ask them what skills they’re looking for. This way, you’re putting yourself in a position where you’re a more valuable asset to the company or community.
As mentioned earlier, the world of wiring and power setups is changing with the advent of different software and tools. If you’re a younger person breaking into the industry, you can find a niche in newer technologies with which others haven’t yet caught onto or familiarized themselves. It can help if you’re also behind in specific skill areas due to less experience.
You want people to think of your name or brand whenever they think of a specific kind of job. That way, they’ll call you first.
Find out what your state requires for licensing and what you can do to get that license. Don’t just assume that your local contractor will take you on as an apprentice. They might be looking for licensed workers to hire, or they might be in an area that doesn’t require a license. Check your state’s licensing requirements to know what you need to get started.
Take time to train your apprentices.
Don’t be afraid to take on an apprentice when you land that first gig. It’s a great way to build your reputation as someone who cares about the next generation of electricians. However, taking on an apprentice is a commitment and challenging work.
For starters, ensure you only take on an apprentice who wants to be there. Apprenticeships are intense and challenging, and someone who is there by circumstance rather than by choice will not make it. You also want to ensure that you are prepared for the time and effort it takes to train an apprentice. This includes time away from the job, time spent mentoring and training, and getting your apprentice up to speed on the basics.
If your apprentice can learn and apply your knowledge well, it’ll make your life much easier. For one, you can take more clients and split up work easier. In addition, you can do that without worrying about your name being tarnished by an untrained or unskilled apprentice.
Network with the best.
Often, an electrician will get a job where they’re not the best person to help the client. Or they cannot make room for the client in their packed schedule. When that happens, maybe they’ll refer another contractor to the job so that they can take it on. Your goal is to be that reference. If you’re the person your fellow electricians trust to refer others to, you’re sitting pretty regarding reputation and numbers.
As you build your reputation in your area, don’t hesitate to reach out to other electricians in your network. You never know when you might be able to help someone else out or when someone else might be able to help you out. When you have a strong network of other electricians, you have a support system of people that can help you out on jobs and offer advice. You also have access to people you can hire for your company down the line. Networking with the best can help you avoid falling into the trap of hiring unlicensed contractors. It can also help you avoid getting trapped in a job where you’re not treated fairly.
Go to trade shows and conferences.
If you’re working as a contractor or an employee, you might not be able to take off for a trade show or convention. However, if you can swing it, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn about what’s new and upcoming in your industry. After attending a trade show, you can use your new knowledge and contacts to help get your name out there as an expert in your field.
Ultimately, these events will help you network and learn more about the field. In addition, you can address many of the previous tips through them; they’re a fun way to shake things up in your job.
Know more than just electrician stuff.
As you work in your field, you’ll build a reputation as an expert. That’s not a bad thing. It’s what you’re trying to do. However, as you become more well-known, you’ll want to ensure that you’re expanding your knowledge in other areas rather than just staying focused on the trade. Expanding your skillset is the best way to remain employable and valuable, even as technology changes and new types of energy are introduced.
There are lots of ways to become more well-rounded while still keeping your focus on the trade. For example, you can join your local union or an industry association, where you can meet other experts in your field and expand your network. You can also look for workshops or convention opportunities to teach or present.
Get as many licenses as possible for various trades adjacent to electrician work. If you can rewire someone’s lights and fix their leaky sink in one house visit, a client is far more likely to call you than a competitor electrician. People like completing all their work in one fell swoop since scheduling maintenance is often a nightmare. You don’t have to be a jack of all trades, but you’ll want two or three under your belt.
When it comes to such a highly specialized field as electrician work, it’s crucial to get ahead of the crowd. While it helps to be skilled, gaining a foothold in the business takes more than raw talent and knowledge. It takes a lot of trust, which you build over time with a network of colleagues and clients. It also takes resourcefulness and a willingness to learn and relearn the basics as technology progresses. Ultimately, it takes an iron will and a passionate work ethic to set you apart from everyone else.