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A career as an electrician can be stable and lucrative. The average wage is about $54,110 per year. There are multiple employment paths, such as a journeyman or independent contractor. Before starting your job, you need to get the proper training. So, here are the steps for how to become an electrician.
1. Graduate High School
Start by earning your high school diploma or an equivalent. The education allows you to learn academic skills vital to the role. Technicians work with math to determine wire lengths and calculate electrical currents. So, algebra and trigonometry are good courses to take.
Here are a few more essential classes:
- Shop and mechanical drawing classes
- Physical Education
2. Consider a Trade Schools
These are good opportunities for electrician training. You learn specific industry skills and can obtain certificates and job placements. You can attend a vocational university or earn a diploma through a trade school. Emily Griffith Technical College and Everest Institute are popular vocational colleges.
You’ll get hands-on experience that you can apply outside of the classroom. This also can give you an edge when applying for an apprenticeship. Plus, your educational hours could count toward licensing requirements.
3. Complete an Apprenticeship
An electrician apprenticeship is an essential step in how to become an electrician. It ensures you have enough experience to obtain a license. It provides specialized job training mixed with academic study.
You can find an apprenticeship in multiple ways. One easy way is by attending a trade school, which may have connections. Also, check out union websites, such as the Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees. Like the Independent Electrical Contractors, other organizations can help you find non-union placements. When applying, you’ll take an aptitude test and complete a drug screening.
4. Register Your Apprenticeship
Some states require you to register as an electrical apprentice before working on a job site. So, check your local state requirements. Review your department of labor’s website for regulations. Keep in mind the program will take about four years. You will also receive compensation while on the job. The classroom portion covers a variety of topics, including:
- Deciphering technical diagrams and construction blueprints.
- Installing, maintaining and repairing electrical wiring.
- Ensuring all work is done in compliance with national, state and local regulations.
- Using special devices to test and inspect electrical systems.
5. Obtain Your License
The license and certification requirements vary by state. Research your local rules before applying for jobs. If you need a license, you might also have to pass an exam. This will test your knowledge of safety protocols and building codes. In addition, you might need to show proof you have completed an internship.
Some employers may value specific certificates, including the following:
- OSHA Safety Certificate
- EPA Amusement Operators Safety Certification
- Mobile Communications and Electronics Installer
- IBM Certified System Administrator
- HVAC Master Specialist
What Do Electricians Do?
Once you know how to become an electrician, you can plan your career path. As a technician, your job is to install, maintain and repair electrical power systems. This includes working with homeowners, businesses and factories. You may also improve or replace electrical equipment and conduct periodic inspections.
Along with industry-specific skills, contractors also need soft skills. These may include communication, problem-solving and customer service. Communication is vital to keep everyone safe and ensure the project runs smoothly.
The Different Career Paths
As soon as you get licensed, there are multiple options for jobs. Consider ones that line with your interests and skills.
Here are a few of the main types:
Journeyman electrician: This is the most basic level. They have completed an apprenticeship and are licensed. They work independently but can’t offer training, lead a job site or pull permits for electrical work.
Master electrician: A journeyman can become a master after a certain amount of experience. The requirements vary by state, but most people need to pass an exam. A master electrician can lead jobs and train apprentices.
Independent electrical contractor: These contractors are basically like small business owners. They gather teams to complete specific jobs. Therefore, they need good insurance and must be a master electrician or have one on staff.
Beyond their job title, technicians can also specialize in a specific area, such as:
Residential: These electricians install and maintain the wiring systems in homes and small apartments.
Commercial: They specialize in handling electrical issues in commercial buildings. Commercial electricians must also complete a certain amount of hours of training.
Industrial: They perform electrical work in large facilities that use heavy equipment and machinery. These can include manufacturing facilities, power plants and chemical plants.
Steps for How to Become an Electrician
An electrician is a highly in-demand job. As housing and commercial properties expand, safe and functioning wiring systems are essential. However, entering this field requires a high school diploma and formal training. So, follow these steps for how to become an electrician.