Minnesota is currently facing a high demand and low supply of workers with technical skills that is only expected to balloon in the coming years. While the shortage is hard on employers looking for skilled workers, it presents significant opportunities for those who enjoy working with their hands and their heads. One such opportunity is in electrical work.
“Being an electrician is a great career opportunity,” Senator Jason Rarick shared with American Experiment in a personal interview. “I was able to combine my interest in math and my desire to work with my hands.”
When he isn’t at the Minnesota Capitol, Senator Rarick has worked as a one-man electrical outfit at Rarick Electrical for over a decade. His bright career in the electric industry started with a two-year degree in applied science from Dunwoody College of Technology. From there, he did some work with programmable logic controllers before hearing about an apprenticeship opportunity through the local electrical union.
“I was accepted into the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 110 [St. Paul] and completed a four-year apprenticeship program before becoming a journeyman followed by a master electrician,” Rarick said.
Senator Rarick’s involvement with his union and community then led him to get involved in politics.
“My passion is to help school counselors and students understand the trades aren’t jobs for dummies,” Rarick said. “You aren’t wearing a suit and tie, but it absolutely requires skills.”
Increasing the supply of skilled electricians takes time, so it is important young people know about these opportunities as they consider next steps, Rarick continued. “We are encouraging students to first figure out where they want to go to school, then figure out what program they want to do, but then when they graduate, they are thinking, ‘Okay, now what job can I get with this?’ Students should first look for career opportunities that are out there that they’re interested in, then figure out what type of education it takes to get there, and what schools offer the best training for that career.”
Getting beyond the stereotypes will also take time, but there are a number of efforts underway to tackle this, including the Center’s Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree project.
“We need to change the perceptions of these jobs and show how valuable and in-demand they are,” Rarick said. “Instead of getting done with high school and competing against another student, you get done and have multiple companies competing for you.”
Check out our reports to learn more about the earning potential and expected job growth for electricians along with other in-demand careers that don’t require the traditional four-year degree route. Electricians can expect lifetime earnings between $2 million to $2.2 million.