The modern age could not exist without electricity. Electricians keep the world functioning with their technical knowledge and skill, and it takes extensive training to become one. If you were wondering how to become an electrician, you have come to the right place.
What Does an Electrician Do?
An electrician is a skilled trade professional that handles issues involving electrical power. They install and repair electrical equipment in industrial, commercial, and residential settings, depending on their specialization.
Electricians read blueprints and technical diagrams to complete their work. Often, they need to install and inspect control, wiring, and lighting systems. An electrician will diagnose and fix electrical problems while adhering to local regulations. Lastly, higher-level electricians will manage and train other workers in the electrical industry.
These tradespeople use testing devices to identify electrical malfunctions, and they have familiarity with circuit breakers and transformers. Their job applies to a wide area of services, such as powering appliances, work equipment, sensors, lighting, media devices, and much more.
Electrician Career Trajectory
The electrician career trajectory has a projected 8% change in employment between 2019 and 2029. This value is twice the average of all occupations because of infrastructure demands for alternative and sustainable energy sources.
Electricians may need some retraining to install and maintain solar and wind power, but their technical skills will apply vastly as more companies and homes switch to renewable energy.
In the United States, approximately 82,200 job openings should happen each year. The best candidates can perform solar photovoltaic installation and maintenance, electronic systems repair, and industrial component wiring.
How Long Does It Take?
So, how long does it take to become an electrician? Well, it depends.
There are several types of electricians, depending on their licenses and experience. The most basic level is a journeyman electrician who has finished an apprenticeship and gotten their license. After gaining two years of experience, a journeyman can become a master electrician. These requirements vary between each state.
The first step to becoming an electrician is completing an apprenticeship. You will need between 500 and 1,000 hours in the classroom and 8,000 to 10,000 hours of experience attained through your choice of apprenticeship.
Once you have completed training, you will need to match the minimum practical and theory hours to complete a written exam concerning the National Electrical Code. At this point, you are a journeyman electrician.
To become a master electrician, you will need to work about 4,000 hours before applying for the master electrician’s license. From there, you can design electrical systems, pull permits, and supervise job sites. Also, you can apply to become an independent electrical contractor. These license requirements vary based on your state.
How to Become an Electrician Apprentice
You will need to meet some prerequisites to become an electrician apprentice. First, you will need to be 18 years or older with a high school diploma or GED. Most states require you to have passed one year of high school algebra and to have a valid driver’s license.
From there, you need to pass a drug test and background check. Some apprenticeship programs will allow people who have criminal records to take their program. Since electricians complete a lot of physical activity, you will also need high levels of physical fitness.
Most apprenticeship programs require multiple interviews for acceptance, as well as a test. If you do not meet these prerequisites, consider attending an electrician school to gain the base knowledge necessary for an apprenticeship.
How Much Do Electricians Make?
Electricians have a median wage of $56,900. The lowest ten percent made under $33,810 while the highest earned over $98,720. Government electricians receive a median wage of $64,490. Those who work in manufacturing make around $61,510. Independent electrical and wiring installation contractors earn approximately $55,170 a year. Lastly, electricians in employment services make about $50,110.
Working your way up from apprentice to master electrician will result in pay raises. Most work full-time, and sometimes at unusual hours if someone encounters an electrical emergency.
Do Requirements to Become an Electrician Differ in Each State?
Requirements to become an electrician do differ statewide. You can find the local requirements here. Usually, you will need a state-specific license, though they are all based on the National Electrical Code.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Joining the Electrician Union
The pros and cons of joining the electrician union are as follows.
- More intensive training and education
- Healthcare access
- Retirement benefits
- Increased hourly compensation
- More work opportunities
- More likely to get laid off
- Extensive rules to follow
- Lack of union standardization in pay and benefit increase
Career Progressions for an Electrician
All electricians need to complete their education, training, and apprenticeship before they can progress in their careers. Once you have achieved the necessary licensing, your career path depends largely on your preferences.
Most start by working as a contractor for a few years to gain experience and understand where they wish to specialize. You may need some additional training for some specializations, so make sure you have the option to continue your education.
You can focus on residential work, where you install, repair, and maintain household and apartment wiring and electric systems. Commercial electricians handle the power used in commercial buildings, which differs from residential in terms of capacity and wiring. Finally, industrial electricians care for large facilities that use specialized machinery and equipment, such as manufacturing facilities, chemical, and power plants.
Each of these fields requires unique training. If you have spent a few years working independently, you may wish to start a business and employ other electricians. At this point, you would take a more managerial role.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions concerning becoming an electrician.
How long does it take to train to be an electrician?
It takes about three to five years of training under an apprenticeship and in theory classes to become an electrician. You will need more years of experience to advance your career.
Do electricians get paid well?
The median pay for electricians is $56,900, which is substantially higher than the all-occupation median wage of $41,950.
Is becoming an electrician hard?
Becoming an electrician requires a lot of commitment, passion, and training. You will need strong physical and mental skills to succeed in this career.
How do I get started as an electrician?
You can get started as an electrician by applying for an electrician school or apprenticeship to meet the foundational requirements for advancement.
Interested in learning more about becoming an electrician? Start by viewing open electrician job listings here at job.com