Electricians install electrical wiring and fixtures in commercial or residential structures. Because the work is physically demanding, and because electricity opens doors into virtually every industry, it's not unusual for an electrician to want a career change. With a little research, you can find a new career that is right for your electrician experience and interests.
Robotic or Electrical Engineer
Some electrical engineers design or construct electrical systems necessary for robots and other electrical devices. In this line of work, you could help control robotic arms in a manufacturing plant, create a deep-sea vehicle that scientists use to discover ocean life, or delight children with automated toys. You also could test communications equipment and controls on electrical devices. Electronics engineers make an average yearly salary of $91,540, based on the most current (2009) data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
All branches of the U.S. military use high-tech electrical equipment. Additionally, all military vehicles, including ships and aircraft, depend on basic electrical systems. As a member of the military, you could install and maintain these systems. This is a good option if you feel called to serve your country, have the desire to travel and are physically fit. Pay depends on rank as well as the military branch, so you can earn more as your military record grows.
Electronics specialists test and repair small to mid-sized electronics such as phones, televisions, GPS units and laptops. In this field, you spend most of your time looking for breaks in extremely small wiring and circuitry. When you find the cause of shorts or electrical failures, you replace the bad circuit points or repair them. You also could advise clients on topics like electrical networking, such as how to connect a television to a computer and camcorder simultaneously, recommending peripheral equipment like converters. Electronic specialists make an average annual salary of $65,000 as of March 2011, says the Indeed website.
As of 2011, automotive technicians – also known as mechanics – must have a thorough understanding of electronic principles. Increasingly, auto manufacturers incorporate complex electrical systems in their vehicles. These systems power everything from built-in navigation units to USB drives, power windows and windshield wipers. Many of these systems now have the ability to network with Bluetooth devices and operate under voice commands. As an electrician, you can specialize in installing and fixing these types of automotive components. You'll likely also focus on battery, alternator and terminal problems. This industry pays an average $37,880 annually as of 2009, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics.