Here's How to Become an Electrician (Professional Guide)
Here's how to become an electrician, professionally. Electricians are professionals tasked with designing, installing, maintaining, and troubleshooting electrical wiring systems.
These systems can be found in houses, businesses, and industrial structures, as well as in machinery and big machinery. Electricians operate both inside and outside to make lights, televisions, industrial equipment, appliances, and a variety of other necessities feasible.
What does an electrician do?
Inside wiremen and exterior lineman are two types of electricians. These are the major focuses, although, within each category, there are many areas of expertise. Each sort of post or specialty has its own set of responsibilities.
Inside wiremen are electricians who specialize nearly entirely in the wiring of structures. The structures range from newly constructed homes to an old industrial structure that has been converted for a new function. Inside wiremen, as the name indicates, spend most of their time indoors. They install new electrical systems in new buildings, diagnose faults, and replace existing systems using blueprints.
Outside linemen, on the other hand, spend most of their time outside. Because they must climb telephone and power poles when a lift bucket is not available, they must have a moderate level of physical condition. Outside linemen must also contend with bad weather in order to restore power to all impacted homes, businesses, and other structures in the vicinity. Transformers, transmission lines, and traffic lights are all used by these electricians. They can also be called upon to prune trees or put up electrical substations.
These broad categories are further split into subcategories:
- Service electricians, for example, are experts in troubleshooting and repairing electrical issues.
- Construction electricians, on the other hand, specialize on installing wire in new structures and seldom undertake maintenance. Marine, aviation, research, and hospital-specific applications are all areas where electricians specialize.
A journeyman electrician
The most basic degree of electrician is a journeyman. After completing an apprenticeship, a journeyman electrician becomes a licensed electrician. A journeyman can work alone, but he or she is unable to instruct apprentices, supervise a project site, or get electrical permits.
After two years of experience, a journeyman electrician can seek to become a master electrician. Specific criteria vary by jurisdiction, however, most states need candidates to pass an exam before they can be licensed. Master electricians can supervise jobs, teach apprentices, and supervise electrical teams.
Independent electrical contractor
Electrical contractors are essentially proprietors of their own businesses. To finish tasks, they recruit teams of electricians. As a result, electrical contractors are obliged to have specific insurance and either be a master electrician or have one on-site.
Pro tip: You must be certified and licensed to operate as an electrician in California. Before you can legally bid on any job costing $500 or more, you'll need to get a C-10 Electrical Contractor license from the Department of Consumer Affairs, Contractors State License Board.
Residential electrician or maintenance electrician
Residential electricians work in houses and small apartment complexes, installing, repairing, and maintaining wiring and electrical systems.
Commercial electricians are experts in resolving electrical problems in businesses. Because commercial buildings utilize somewhat different types of electricity than residential structures, commercial electricians must complete a specific number of hours of instruction in that environment throughout their apprenticeship.
Industrial electricians operate in huge buildings with a lot of heavy gear and equipment. Manufacturing plants, power plants, and chemical plants are just a few examples. The electrical requirements of industrial buildings are generally higher than those of residential and commercial structures. As an apprentice or journeyman, industrial electricians must work under the supervision of a qualified industrial electrician.
Electrician job description
Electricians' tasks vary depending on the employer and speciality, however there are a few that are shared by all:
- Use schematics or blueprints to figure out what's wrong with your electrical system.
- Repair and install electrical systems.
- Examine, troubleshoot, and run tests.
- A variety of testing instruments can be used to pinpoint issues.
- Use various hand and power tools safely.
- Plan how electrical wiring, equipment, and fixtures will be laid out and installed.
- Follow the National Electrical Code's safety requirements and regulations.
- Ensure that people are properly trained and supervised when installing and repairing electrical components.
- Inspect electrical systems for faulty wiring.
- Use electrical equipment to follow electrical plans.
- Installing, maintaining, and repairing electrical wiring (residential wiring/commercial wiring).
How to become an electrician
Here's how to become a professional electrician.
Earn a high school diploma
You'll need a high school education or the equivalent to pursue a career as an electrician. Though the majority of the job requires industry-specific abilities, electricians use a variety of academic ideas on a regular basis. The following are some examples of school topics that provide useful abilities for this profession:
- Algebra and trigonometry: To determine wiring lengths, calculate the force of electrical currents, and measure the angle of a circuit, electricians must employ mathematical abilities.
- Physics: To accomplish their profession efficiently, electricians must comprehend basic scientific principles.
This job will frequently demand specialists to read technical papers in English.
Classes in the shop and mechanical drafting can also help electricians learn how to design electrical systems in buildings and other structures.
Consider a trade or vocational-technical school
Although it is not essential to attend a trade or vocational-technical school to become an electrician, it can provide important training and substantially assist students in the process of certification and job placement.
Whether you study electrical technology at a four-year university or get a career certificate from a trade school, the experience will provide you with extensive lab and classroom instruction. Students are taught basic tools and exposure to fundamental electrical concepts, which can offer them an advantage when applying for apprenticeships.
Furthermore, most states and licensing areas allow students to replace some of their formal education hours for the hours of experience necessary to acquire their journeyman license. In most cases, 1,000 hours of on-the-job experience equals one year of formal schooling. Students can only substitute up to two years or 2,000 hours of instruction.
Depending on the vocational-technical institution, a comprehensive journeyman program can be available that is tailored to meet the local licensing criteria. The majority of these programs will give 4,000 hours of on-the-job training, which is about half of what is necessary to become a journeyman electrician.
What you'll learn in vocational-technical schools
Electrician training is available at certificate and associate degree levels at trade and vocational institutions. The following is an example of a classroom/lab session curriculum:
- Grounding Systems and Overcurrent Devices
- Electrical Power Distribution
- Alternating Current Fundamentals
- The National Electrical Code
- Electrical Safety and Accident Prevention
- Electrical Drawing and Blueprint Reading
- Introduction to Electricity: electrical theory, electrical drafting
Electrical Components: conduit, panels, switchboards, motors, controllers, generators, transformers
Lab sessions can introduce students to some or all of the following tools and technologies, depending on the level of the training program:
- Voltage meters
- Frequency meters
- Tension gauges
- Infrared scanners
- Cable reels
- Stripping tools
- Wire and cable cutter
Apply for an apprenticeship
Whether you choose to complete your training at a trade school or not, you must complete an apprenticeship to become a licensed electrician. You can find an apprenticeship in a variety of methods, including:
Through a trade school: Apprenticeship and work placement options are common in trade schools.
Labor union: The Joint Apprenticeship & Training Committees, or JATC, maintains offices in nearly every major city in the United States. The JATC will match you with a local union employer and will most likely coordinate and conduct any classroom or lab-based technical training at their location. Just keep in mind that joining the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, or IBEW, is required to participate in a union apprenticeship.
Non-union: Whether or not to join a union is ultimately a personal choice for each apprentice. The Independent Electrical Contractors, or IEC, and the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc, or ABC, are the two main organizations that offer apprenticeship placement with non-union electrical contractors. Both of these organizations have offices in nearly every major city.
Pro tip: You must register as an electrical trainee. To become an electrician trainee, you must complete one of the following courses: Be enrolled in a state recognized school. Or working directly supervised by a certified electrician After that, you must finish at least 720 hours of comparable classroom training at a state-approved institution or apprenticeship.
Where to apply to an apprenticeship
You can be able to find a local apprenticeship through the United States Department of Labor. In addition, electrical apprenticeship openings periodically become available through organizations such as:
- International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
- National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA)
- Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC)
- Independent Electrical Contractors (IEC)
When applying for an apprenticeship, you can be required to take an aptitude exam that will assess your reading comprehension and math skills. You will almost certainly be required to undergo a job interview, submit to a drug test, and satisfy certain physical standards.
The IBEW and the NECA conduct their programs through the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. To search for a sponsored apprenticeship, consult the Office of Apprenticeships Sponsors website.
Register as an electrician apprentice
Before being authorized to work on construction projects, several states require electrical apprentices to register. Before you start working, find out what your state's requirements are.
Complete your apprenticeship
Your apprenticeship will be the foundation of your electrical training. It includes both classroom and on-the-job training, as well as mentorship and supervision by a master electrician. Before taking the test, most states demand that you have completed at least four years of apprenticeship.
An apprenticeship will include training in areas such as:
For electrical planning, deciphering technical schematics and construction blueprints
- Electrical wiring and distribution equipment installation, maintenance, and repair
- Ensure that all work is completed in accordance with federal, state, and local requirements.
- Specialized equipment is used to test and examine electrical systems for problems.
The following are the criteria for electrician license, regardless of region:
- Between 576 and 1,000 hours in the classroom
- 8,000 to 10,000 hours of on-the-job training (four to five years)
Licensing and certification requirements differ by state and even city, so be sure you know what certifications you'll need to work in your region. If your location requires a license, you can also be required to pass an electrical test. The National Electric Code, safety measures, electrical principles, and construction codes will all be tested on this exam. You'll also need to show documentation that you finished your apprenticeship.
You can work on home and commercial electrical wiring, installations, and repairs with a journeyman electrician license. You will be able to complete all tasks without the need for direct supervision.
Changes in electrical codes and jurisdictional regulations are inevitable. As a result, ongoing education and periodic license renewal will be an important aspect of your job to guarantee you stay current.
You can opt to take extra steps to qualify for one or more specialty licenses as you gain experience on your route to becoming a master electrician. These certifications require further education and experience, as well as the completion of a licensing test.
The following are some of the more common specialty licenses:
- Photovoltaic/solar power
- Electrical signs
- Refrigeration, heating, and air conditioning
- Photovoltaic/solar power
- Low voltage
How to become a master electrician
You had to finish between 500 and 1,000 classroom hours and 8,000 to 10,000 hours of on-the-job training as an electrical apprentice. You earned the designation of journeyman electrician by successfully completing state and/or jurisdictional requirements and passing a state competency assessment.
However, your professional development does not end there. In most states and/or jurisdictions, you can qualify for a master electrician license after completing another 4,000 hours as a journeyman electrician (about two years of full-time employment). In certain areas, obtaining a master electrician title also necessitates completing a test.
Licensure by state
To qualify for a master electrician license in Texas, for example, journeyman electricians must work for at least two years and pass the Texas Master Electrician test.
A master electrician examination assesses a candidate's knowledge, talents, and experiences in the installation, design, maintenance, alteration, and construction of electrical systems, as well as all applicable codes and laws. It also assesses a candidate's ability to manage and guide others who are performing similar tasks.
Some states, on the other hand, demand less journeyman training to become a master electrician. In Virginia, for example, journeyman electricians can get their master electrician license after just one year of practice.
Different degrees of master electricians exist in some states/jurisdictions, each requiring a different amount of expertise.
Electrician Master Licensed – E (experienced) and Electrician Master Licensed – A (new) are two separate master electrician designations in Michigan, for example (advanced). While both are licensed to obtain permits, perform electrical work, and perform a full range of technical electrical work, only the Electrician Master Licensed – A is permitted to supervise the work of lower-level licensed electricians, provide instruction and training, and review job performance by observing and critiquing techniques and completed work. One year of experience as an Electrician Master Licensed – E is required in this situation to qualify for the Electrician Master Licensed – A grade.
Electrician job outlook
The ongoing demand for repair of more complex, computerized wiring and electrical systems is expected to give this career a bright future. Given that virtually every structure has some sort of electrical power, an increase in new construction is predicted, which will result in more work opportunities for electricians.
More demand is created by the continuous need for maintenance of older equipment in industrial plants, as well as emergency electrical repairs following storms and grid outages. Furthermore, advancements in power generation will necessitate the training of electricians in solar and wind technology installation and maintenance.
The myth of independence
Electricians will be in charge of connecting these newer sources of energy to household and power networks. Electrical contracting businesses that supply building contractors employ more than two-thirds of all electricians in the United States. Only around 10% of people opt to work for themselves.
Graduation from a technical school program, completion of an apprenticeship, and passage of an examination demonstrating knowledge of national and regional electric codes are often required for entry into the industry. Candidates' electrician career chances will be heavily influenced by their skill levels, training, experience, and credentials, and licenses obtained. Instrumentation, electrical administration, and fiber optics certifications will open doors to new employment.
Those who get a master electrician's license will find it easier to find work in senior positions.
Simply put, demand for electricians is likely to continue to grow since they protect the safety of people and property.
Average salary information
According to the BLS, the national average annual wage for an electrician is $59,190, which is somewhat more than the average annual wage for all professions, which is $51,960. Depending on the state, the typical electrician pay might vary substantially.
Learn more about electrician salaries.
Our favorite resources are included below.
Job interview resources
- Common Interview Questions by Marquette University
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- Mock Interview Handbook by CSUCI
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Resume and cover letter resources
- Writing a Resume and Cover Letter by USC
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- Resume and Cover Letter Guide by Harvard University
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