As technology evolves, students attending an electrician school will not only be learning about the basics of the industry, but will need to know more high-tech skills in order to deal with highly complex networks in the future.
"Where 20 years ago, it was mostly hands-on, learn on the job, today you have to have good computer skills," Jim O'Connell, the director of the IBEW Local 103's training center in Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe.
Adam Palmer, a project managers with J.M. Electric Company, told the news agency that working with large electrical systems in buildings is becoming increasingly more complicated because they use computer processors, fiber optics and sophisticated controls.
"I think people don't realize how much science and technology can go into controlling a building," Palmer noted. "You don't just turn on a thermostat and get hot or cold air. There's a lot more to it."
In Detroit, electricians are also learning a unique skill set in the wake of natural disasters such as Hurricane Sandy. IBEW Local 58 recently held a three day course, which included hands-on training, for certification in storm damage repair, WWJ News reports.
Instructor Beau Burton said that professionals with electrician training that can get the lights back on for the customers in the event of an outage will get more work in the long-run. The course includes triage, public safety, residential service and response.
In California, a new training center has opened up to help more electricians find careers in sustainable energy. The new Net-Zero Center will teach electricians advanced skills in building automation, on-site power generation, lighting control and solar panel and wind turbine installation, according to SustainableBusiness.com.
Back in Massachusetts, Paul Guarracino, president of J.M. Electrical, said that the construction industry has flourished as a result of the real estate community going green. He said his electricians were busy even during the economic downturn as more commercial buildings were being retrofitted with controls and other devices to save energy.
Guarracino said that he continues to train his workers in the fine points of building automation systems, which are all run on one complex network that includes HVAC, lighting and security alarms.
"It's very complicated, and we need technical people to do the installation," Guarracino noted.
The advanced training is not only helpful to those who install the systems, but for workers who will maintain them as well.