When it comes to advancing in the electrical construction industry, everyone needs to participate in ongoing education. There are just too many new developments and industrial initiatives happening that need special attention to learn how they fit into the ever-changing and expanding electrical industry. If you want to be qualified to walk into a better job, you need to be constantly updating your skills.
According to the latest government Bureau of Labor Statistics’ jobs outlook, “Employment of electricians is projected to grow 14 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. As homes and businesses require more wiring, electricians will be needed to install the necessary components. The job prospects for electricians should be very good, as many employers report difficulty finding qualified applicants.”
Everyone needs to realize you earn more when you learn more. Just like continual improvement on products and their materials is important, education has become a continual endeavor in many fields, and the electrical industry is no exception.
As I mentioned in an earlier column, “The skill sets needed for today and tomorrow’s jobs are flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and technology (FACT) skills. This new FACT-based approach needs to be adopted and implemented in all public schools.”
The new markets of companies require new skills
From designing electrical cars to building recharging stations to developing new batteries at giga-factories, the job skills needed today are very different than ones that were around 20 years ago in the traditional commercial and residential electrical industry. If you want to be marketable today, you need to understand this change in skills and the demand for them. You also need to prepare differently than how someone did 20 years ago.
When it comes to any company today, they need people with a good mix of skills and experience. Let’s take a look at a typical ad for a sales position in power solutions (this is from an actual ad):
Position Summary: This position is the primary sales position in the Power Solutions organization responsible for selling service work. This position is responsible for developing and maintaining relationships with new and existing “Company X” customers to identify the scope of work, estimate and sell system adds/modifications and maintenance agreements to meet or exceed his/her booking and margin targets.
Services include but not limited to: Service Agreements, Engineering, Commissioning, retrofits, upgrades of metering, enterprise software installations and extension of Service Agreements for Power Solutions including Power Quality opportunities.
Looking at the write-up for the job, we can assume the job requires some skills above-and-beyond basic electrical skills. It is also going to require sales, analytical, and automated computer skills that encompass understanding Microsoft applications like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. If you do not have these basic computer skills, you will be at a disadvantage when it comes to moving up into better jobs. This is not the traditional electrician’s job description of 20 years ago.
In continuing to review the job description, we see more requirements:
What do you get to do in this position?
• Develop and maintain an ongoing professional relationship with new or existing Company X customers
• Prospect for and identify potential service sales opportunities
• Utilized end user data base to identify customer candidates for opportunity qualification
• Prioritize service sales opportunities to maximize customer facing time
• Develop and implement sales strategies and tactics for individual service sales opportunities
• Work with front office operations to provide appropriate information to prepare sales quotations and proposals
• Conduct customer site inspections and walkthroughs to determine service opportunities
• Analyze customer needs and develop service or maintenance contract options for proposal to customer
• Understand fundamental metering & verification, energy efficiency and conservation strategies with customers
• Other duties may be assigned
• Four (4) year college degree required or equivalent work experience.
• Three years’ technical sales experience
• Strong verbal and written communication skills.
• Proficient in Microsoft Office programs including, but not limited to, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
• Excellent organizational skills.
• Basic understanding of industry communication protocols and communication architectures
This job might be for you if you qualify. Do you have a four-year degree? (Most places will give you some credit for experience, but remember, your writing and speaking skills are just as important, if not more so.) It is just as important to have good people skills and organizational skills coming into a job like this.
In this century, there is going to be a growing demand for those workers with experience and skills that span across several disciplines and not just be focused in one. It is not that you have to be an expert in three or four areas, but you need to know how those three or four areas interrelate with one another.
This need for a multidisciplinary approach to jobs has been growing for at least the last 30 years in the intelligent buildings area, but most educational institutions have yet to alter their curricula to fit these new complex skills demands. If you want the bigger opportunities in the 21st century workplace, you need to have a broader vision beyond just the electrical industry that includes other industries which overlap into it.
Break away from the routine, and see what other types of more rewarding opportunities open up.