Are you considering training to become an electrician?
This trade is ideal for anyone who has a good understanding of how things work, enjoys working with their hands, and has strong problem-solving skills. However, it takes time to gain the skills and qualifications you need to do this job. There is also a certain amount of risk involved with this profession, and it is not for everyone.
So, let’s take an in-depth look at how to become an electrician and find out more about this fascinating profession.
Reasons To Choose This Career
Before you dive in, you need to make sure that you want to become an electrician. Like most careers, it takes time and dedication to gain the skills and knowledge you need to do the job. So, here are some great reasons to become an electrician.
On the job training
One of the great things about this career is that you can make money while honing your skills. This is ideal for people who don’t have the financial resources to dedicate two or three years to formal learning. You will work alongside experienced electricians and other professionals and learn essential skills while making connections.
Variety of tasks
Each day on the job is slightly different, especially when you are just starting. The wide variety of tasks helps prevent the job from getting tedious. There is always something new to learn and fresh puzzles to solve.
Plenty of jobs
There is plenty of available work for qualified electricians. Even if you decide to move states, you should find it relatively easy to get a new job. The demand for talented electricians is constantly growing, and this is a reliable career path to follow.
There is a lot of opportunity for committed and hard-working electricians to advance on their career paths. After you have gained a little experience, you can advance to the role of field manager. This can lead to further promotions within a certain field and company.
Different Types Of Electricians
These skilled trade professionals are trained to complete a wide range of electrical power tasks. The main responsibilities include installing, maintaining, and repairing all types of electrical equipment. There are three main job categories that you can become licensed to work within.
This is the most basic level, and most people in the industry start as journeymen. You can take on this role after you have completed an apprenticeship and secured a license. While these people are allowed to work independently, the range of tasks they can perform is rather limited.
Once you have at least two years of experience, you can apply to advance to this role. You will need to apply for special licensing, which usually involves completing coursework and passing an exam. This role allows you to lead jobs, direct electrical teams, and train apprentices.
Independent electrical contractor
If you have a head for business, you could advance to this type of electrician. You would be in charge of running your own business and hiring teams of electricians to work on jobs. You either need to be a master electrician yourself or work closely with one to win and run jobs.
There are a few key specializations within this field. Choosing a specialization increases your earning potential and makes it easier to find work. Here are the main specializations that you can choose from.
This specialization is focused on installing, repairing, and maintaining electrical systems and wiring in apartment buildings and homes. These professionals often work directly with an apartment manager or large private property company. It is also possible to run your own business and be called out by homeowners to do different jobs.
This specialization is aimed at taking care of electrical issues that occur in commercial buildings. These buildings use different types of power to residential buildings. As a result, it is important to choose this specialization before your apprenticeship and complete the necessary training.
This role involves working in facilities like factories that use large pieces of machinery and other equipment. These industrial buildings have specific electrical needs that need to be monitored and maintained. You have to train as a journeyman or apprentice under a licensed industrial electrician to follow this path.
How To Become an Electrician?
If you want to do this job professionally, you need to become licensed. Before that, you will need to gain certain types of knowledge and skills. Here is an outline of the steps you need to take to become qualified and experienced.
Get a High School Diploma
The first step to working as an electrician is getting your high school diploma. There are several skills you learn in high school that you will usually use daily during your professional work. Here are some of the most important subjects that you should aim to get good grades in.
Algebra and trigonometry
You will use math skills to calculate the force of electrical currents and measure the angles of circuits.
You need to have at least a basic understanding of scientific concepts like velocity.
You need to have strong English skills to read technical documents.
Shop and mechanical drawing classes
These classes teach you the basic skills to design electrical systems.
Attend a Trade Or Vocational-Technical School
While this step isn’t needed to become qualified, it provides valuable training. People who attend a school will find it easier to obtain certification and find employment after graduation.
Through the course, you will gain both classroom and hands-on lab-based training. Students gain introductions to basic electrical principles and foundational tools that give them an edge when applying for apprenticeships.
You can divide your time!
In many states, you can substitute some of the hours you would spend during your apprenticeship for hours spent in class. A year of education in a trade or vocational-technical school is equivalent to one thousand hours of an apprenticeship.
In some cases, you can divide your time between studying in class and working on your apprenticeship.
Apply For An Apprenticeship
You need to complete an apprenticeship before you can become licensed to work independently. Most trade and vocational-technical schools offer apprenticeship opportunities. You could also find an apprenticeship through a union like the Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees or the Independent Electrical Contractors.
You could be asked to complete an aptitude test when applying to become an apprentice. This will test your math skills as well as your reading comprehension. You will also need to complete a job interview, meet the physical requirements, and submit to a drug test.
Register as an electrician apprentice
Once you have been offered an apprenticeship, you may have to register. This requirement depends on the state you live in. Once you have registered, you will be ready to start working on a job site.
Complete your apprenticeship
Apprenticeships combine on-the-job training with classroom instruction, supervision, and mentorship from an experienced master electrician.
You usually need to work as an apprentice for at least four years before taking an exam. During your apprenticeship, you will spend 576 to 1,000 hours in the classroom and 8,000 to 10,000 hours gaining on-the-job training.
Apprenticeships are structured and have to include certain elements. These include:
- Interpreting technical diagrams.
- Interpreting construction blueprints for electrical plans.
- Installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical wiring.
- Installing, maintaining, and repairing electricity distribution equipment.
- Following national, state, and local regulations.
- Testing and inspecting electrical systems for issues.
- Learning to use special devices and equipment.
Get licensed or certified
Each state and even some cities have their own special requirements for certifications and licensing. Make sure you research the specific requirements carefully to meet them.
Even if you don’t have to obtain a license, you are likely to have to sit and pass an electrical exam. This exam tests your understanding of safety protocols, the National Electric Code, building codes, and electrical concepts. You will also have to show proof that you have completed an apprenticeship.
Types Of Certifications
There are lots of different types of certifications you can gain to advance your career. The type of certification you choose will depend on your specialization and chosen career path. Here are some of the main types of certifications and information on what they involve.
OSHA Safety Certificate
You can complete this program in forty hours, and it covers the General Industry 1910 and Construction 1926 Standards. At the end of the course, you will gain an OSHA Safety Certificate to prove that you understand safety procedures. This program is open to electricians who have at least two years of experience.
EPA Amusement Operators Safety Certification
This is a comprehensive and equipment-specific safety program that provides instruction on the best risk management practices. Earning this certification shows employers that you understand potential safety issues and how to avoid them. This entry-level course is open to electricians of all types, and no experience is necessary.
Electrical Maintenance Technician Certificate
You need to pass a total of eight courses to earn this certification. You also need to have at least two years of work experience. The certification is available through many community colleges and can be completed while working part-time.
Electrical Contracting Trade Associations
Joining a trade association is a great way to make connections within the industry. Many associations run special networking events, and membership also comes with a range of benefits. Here are some of the key electrical contracting trade associations you can become a member of.
This is one of the largest associations that is dedicated solely to the electrical contracting industry. The association provides members across the United States with special education and business training. It also runs special networking events where members can make important connections.
Independent Electrical Contractors
This association has been established for independent contractors and focuses on promoting the merit shop system. The goal of the IEC is to provide members with the highest level of quality possible. This helps independent contractors to hone their skills and make connections within the industry.
Federated Electrical Contractors
This international association covers the whole of North America as well as several other countries. If you are planning to work abroad at some point, it is a good idea to become a member of this organization. The Federated Electrical Contractors help to connect the international community and raise standards within the industry.
American Lighting Association
This association focuses on the lighting sector and provides its members with specialized support. Members receive important information on new technologies and gain access to industry leaders. The American Lighting Association also offers a wide range of special services.
American Solar Energy Society
This is the largest solar power association in America and is a valuable resource for anyone working in this field. The American Solar Energy Society is open to both professionals and enthusiasts and provides valuable connections. The main mission of this association is to promote renewable energy in America.
Association of Energy Engineers
This association was established to promote both the science and education of energy engineering within the energy industry. Members gain access to innovative research and development as well as information on the latest technology.
Illuminating Engineering Society
This society was established more than a century ago to promote excellence in the electrical industry and lighting sector. Members are provided with access to education, resources, and member development to help them excel.
Why Not Try Construction Work?
Well, if your heart is set on being an electrician, then my Electrician Job Description, my Maintenance Electrician Job Description, and my Electrician Apprentice Job Description will tell you what the positions entail. Alternatively, check out my Best Paying Jobs In Energy for further ideas!
Perhaps you like working outdoors? Then construction work could be for you! So, check out our Construction Laborer Job Description, or Construction Worker Job Description, or even our Construction Superintendent Job Description. Along with our Halliburton Construction Application or our KBR Construction Application job opportunities if you’d like to apply.
Working as an electrician can be an interesting and secure career. There are generally lots of electrician jobs all over the United States, and this job comes with a good salary.
The salary for a junior electrician is around $30,000 per year, while the average salary is around $56,000 per year. Choosing a specialization is a great way to boost your career prospects as well as your earning potential.
With hard work and dedication, you could advance to the role of a master electrician in a few years. Depending on the field you work in, you could earn at least $80,000 per year.
All the very best with your new career as an Electrician!