How to Become an Industrial Electrician

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Electrician is an excellent career for people who like both a mental challenge and working with their hands. An industrial electrician is kind of like a pediatrician. Both are qualified to work in the wider field of their craft, but choose to specialize in a certain subarea. To become an industrial electrician, you need to first get trained as an electrician. After becoming qualified to take jobs, you simply build experience on industrial sites.

  • Prepare for getting education as an electrician. This includes study of math, physics and aspects of the building trades. If you're still in high school, pursue those classes. If you're training as an adult, look to a local community college or trade school.

  • Receive your education and training as an electrician. In most parts of the United States, this is most easily done through the local IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) union.

  • Become licensed in your region according to the guidelines of your state. If you received your training through the IBEW, the union will help you work through this process step by step.

  • Take every job that is offered to you, during your first years as an electrician. This will keep food on your table while you deal with being low on seniority lists. Also, refusing jobs will hurt your chances of getting later jobs as employers, and union leadership may start to believe you're a high-maintenance employee.

  • Take every chance you can to work on industrial sites. As you build skill and experience, seek out independent projects or full-time work on industrial sites.

  • Decide, during your first years as a fully qualified electrician, whether you want to work as a full-time employee or as a contractor serving industrial clients. Both are viable career paths--it's simply a matter of which would make you happier.

Tips & Warnings

  • You may want to consider serving a term in the military once you're qualified as an electrician. Many branches of the service pay signing bonuses for electricians and other technical specialists. Better still, most electrical work done for the military will help build your resume for industrial electrical work.

References

  • Interview with Mike Byers, General Contractor; Corvallis, OR; 2008
  • Photo Credit Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images
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