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Electrical Contractor Survey Reveals Growing, Changing Industry

While there are some factors that remain fairly constant among electrical contractors, a new survey from Electrical Contractor magazine reveals some surprising changes that seem to indicate growth in some sectors.

For the most part, the average age of electrical contractors remains steady in the mid-50s. Older electrical contractors tend to work in smaller firms, perhaps because, the survey results read, “Older EC’s may have built up the knowledge necessary to hang their own shingles while spending their earlier career working for a larger company.”

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Results also reveal that the number of smaller firms is greater than the number of larger companies, and that most offices employ fewer than 10 workers, about 74 percent of survey respondents.

More electrical contractors have at least some higher education under their belts, the magazine’s survey shows. A full 56 percent of participants said they have some college, and 19 percent have bachelor’s degrees. Only 31 percent report vocational, trade skill or apprenticeships as their highest level of education, down from 34 percent in 2012.

Slow economic recovery continues to play a significant role in the type and amount of work electrical contractors are performing across industries. Construction, in general, accounts for less work than maintenance, service and repair calls; 32 percent compared to 41 percent, respectively.

Contractors do report increases in the amount of “green” work they’re doing as well as low-voltage projects. Nearly half, 44 percent, of survey respondents said they’ve working on both LEED and non-LEED energy efficient upgrades in the last year, and about 70 percent of participants said they’ve done some trouble-shooting and maintenance of low-voltage systems.

EC survey researchers did note that contractors are working across an increasingly varied field instead of focusing predominantly in one area.

“Systems integration also took a step up in importance. Losing ground were industrial systems and energy management/power quality in terms of revenue, though it may be because EC’s are working in an increased number of categories of electrical work than ever before,” the result summary continues. “Their revenue has spread out from traditional sources into a broader range of work types.”

Increased diversification means making sure electrical contractors get the training they need to get the jobs done. At least three-quarters of respondents said they or someone in their company had received training in the past year.

Safety training and staying educated about the National Electrical Code remain high priorities as well among survey participants. Top study subjects include lighting, automation, grounding/bonding, safety issues, and green/sustainability matters.

The full EC survey is expected in Fall 2014.