The aging electrician workforce has been the focus of some recent studies.1,2 Why? Because many electricians are nearing retirement age, and researchers are concerned about the potential for a skilled trades shortage if there are not enough workers with the proper electrician training and skills to replace them.1
The average age of an electrician in 2019 was 40.9 years old, so why are researchers so concerned about a labor shortage?3
Get answers in this article.
Could There Be an Electrician Trades Shortage?
‘As it stands, Americans are more likely to be ripping out their car batteries for power than having cars that drive themselves or fly. And this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what will happen to society without enough skilled electricians. We need to course-correct now and begin encouraging young people to choose a career in electrical work so that in 20 to 30 years, we, and generations of Americans to come, can live how our ancestors dreamed we would be living – and not worse than how they actually lived.’ — Mark Klein, co-president of Klein Tools1
There could be a skilled trades shortage in the United States in the coming years, especially in the electrical industry.1 According to a study called Dark by 2050, more than 250,000 electricians will be needed to service the country’s electrical needs in the next decade.1 This report was compiled in October 2020 by Klein Tools and The Accelerate Group.1
Some of the driving factors for this high demand of electricians include the nation’s growing infrastructure, increased renewable energy usage and modern building systems.1,2 Another reason for the predicted shortage is that electricians who are currently working are expected to retire, leaving a labor gap if new workers with the proper electrician training do not enter the job market.1
What Is the Average Age of Electricians?
The U.S. Census reports that the average age of all electricians was 40.9 in 2019, the last year that data is available.3
To break it down by gender, the average age of a male electrician in 2019 was 40.9, and the average age of a female electrician was 39.4.3
How Old Are Most Electricians?
Of the 914,000 electricians working in the U.S. during 2019, most of them were aged 35 to 44, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Below is a breakdown of demographic age data for electricians.4
|All electricians over 16 years old||Electricians 16 – 19 years old||Electricians 20 – 24 years old||Electricians 25 – 34 years old||Electricians 35 – 44 years old||Electricians 45 – 54 years old||Electricians 55 – 64 years old||Electricians 65 years and older|
The median age of electricians was 41.7 in 2019.4
What Could Happen If There Is an Electrician Shortage?
The average electrician may not be of retirement age right now, but a lot of them will be nearing it in the coming years: 42.1% of the electrician workforce was aged 45 or older in 2019, according to data from the BLS.4
If the electrician workforce shortage is not addressed with more qualified electricians entering the field, power outages across the country could grow more frequent and severe, and it may take longer for businesses and residences to receive basic repairs.1 In times of inclement weather, such as storms and hurricanes, the lack of qualified electricians might be especially disastrous, as some regions could go weeks without power.1
In other scenarios, institutions and manufacturers could possibly experience intermittent shutdowns if their power supply is interrupted or suspended.2 Because nearly every industry relies on sustained power to operate, this could result in negative effects for food production, fire departments, hospitals, schools, airports and more.1
Electricians clearly play an essential role in the labor force, and as the country advances, more electricians could be needed to ensure a healthy and functioning modern society.1
Electricians Need Proper Training To Fill the Labor Gap
According to these predictions, more qualified, trained and experienced electricians will be needed over the coming decades to fill the gap of workers who will be retiring and meet the demand for skilled workers.1,5 Who will become the next generation of electricians?
How to Become an Electrician
Becoming an electrician does not happen overnight. In fact, electricians need technical training in order to learn the trade and fulfill their job duties.6 Attending a vocational training program is one way to begin gaining the skills needed to enter the field.6
Most electricians spend 4 to 5 years working as an apprentice.6 (Sometimes credits from vocational training may apply toward their apprenticeship.)6 Then, after completing an apprenticeship, they can take a test to advance to the level of journeyman.6 After that, the highest level that can be achieved is master electrician.6
Electricians also need to understand the licensing requirements in their state and may need to take continuing education courses to maintain their license.6
Keep America’s Lights On. Train to Become an Electrician
Will there be an electrician shortage? Only time will tell. But, considering the dire situation such a shortage could cause, why wait and see?
Do your part to keep the lights on and the country moving. Consider taking the first step with electrician training.
Tulsa Welding School is here to help. Call 855-981-7313 to speak with a knowledgeable trade school representative about your options for preparing for this essential career.
NOTE: 42.1% was calculated by adding up the three columns: 45-54, 55-64 and 65+, then dividing by the total (90) to get the percentage of electricians aged 45 and over.